SINGAPORE - About 370 families living in public rental flats have requested rent assistance each month from January to July this year, said National Development Minister Desmond Lee on Friday (Sept 4).
Over the same period, 325 households had their rents reduced by the Housing Board (HDB).
This reduced rent will apply for the rest of the household's current tenancy term, which goes up to three years.
Some 1,470 households a month were placed on or renewed for ComCare rent assistance, he added.
Mr Lee provided these figures in a written parliamentary reply to Workers' Party MP He Ting Ru (Sengkang GRC), who asked for an update on the number of households which have sought help with rent payments for this year.
Mr Lee, who is also Minister-in-Charge of Social Services Integration, said the HDB will help public rental households get the assistance they require, and that it is continuously monitoring the situation.
Ms He also asked if the HDB is considering a temporary rent freeze for tenants.
To that, Mr Lee said that public rental rates are highly subsidised.
"Rents are never raised within a tenancy term, but can be lowered at any time if the household income falls. Rents are reviewed only at tenancy renewal, which happens every two to three years," he said.
Any household which is having difficulty affording the rent should approach its local HDB Branch for assistance, he added.
In May, it was reported that around 5,200 - or one in 10 - public rental households did not pay their rent on time.
About three out of four of these households, usually lower-income families, owe less than $3,000 in rent.
About half owe less than one year's worth of rent.
HDB also helped 159 families move from two-room to one-room flats in the last three years.
Then National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said that the HDB takes "a compassionate and holistic approach" in assisting such tenants and will seek to understand their individual circumstances.