SINGAPORE - To tackle growing inequality and stratification, the Government is "going one step further" to build rental and sold flat units within the same block, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said on Thursday (May 17).
Currently, there are no Housing Board blocks designed to have both rental and sold flats.
In recent years, however, HDB had launched some Build-to-Order blocks in Woodlands, Bukit Batok and Sengkang that feature such integration from the onset as a pilot.
Said Mr Wong on the fourth day of the debate on the President's Address: "We have been building more rental flats with newer, better designs, alongside the sold flats in various HDB towns. This means that families grow up in the same neighbourhood, and the residents share the same common areas and facilities.
"Now, we are going one step further to integrate rental and sold units within the same HDB block."
Mr Wong did not give more details on the integrated blocks, but had said in his Budget speech this year that the integrated blocks in Woodlands, Bukit Batok and Sengkang are still under construction. More will be built if feedback about the lived experiences are positive, he said previously.
As of 2017, there are around 58,000 rental flats.
The idea for integrated blocks had been mooted in previous sittings by various MPs, including Mr Louis Ng (Nee Soon GRC) and most recently Mr Murali Pillai (Bukit Batok).
On Wednesday, Mr Murali said in Parliament that he was concerned that standalone rental flats are "sometimes built at the fringe of the housing estates". They also run the danger of becoming ghettos, he said.
In his speech, Mr Wong said an outstanding city is not one that is only economically vibrant, but also socially inclusive.
"Our housing and urban plans must continue to push back against the growing pressures of inequality and social stratification. We cannot just leave things to chance, but we must deliberately plan for a more equal and inclusive society," said Mr Wong, who is also the Second Minister for Finance.
Besides building integrated blocks of rental and sold flats, Mr Wong said the Government is also doing more to help families living in rental flats, supporting some 1,000 households last year with significant housing grants and new programmes like the Fresh Start Housing Scheme. These households were able to move out of rental flats to become homeowners, he said.
"We must do even better than that, so MND will be working with the Ministry for Social and Family Development, Social Service Office and voluntary welfare organisations to see how best we can these families, help them solve their issues holistically and get back on their feet," said Mr Wong.
Besides families living in rental flats, Mr Wong said the Government must also take care of the elderly living in studio or two-room Flexi apartments.
He highlighted Kampung Admiralty, a development which integrated these flat types with community services, medical facilities, and shared spaces.
Kampung Admiralty officially opened on Saturday, and more of such kampungs will be planned in other HDB towns.
Mr Wong also outlined his ministry's plans to realise the vision of Singapore as a Global-Asian node of innovation and enterprise, including the construction of Changi Terminal 5, the Tuas megaport, developments in Jurong, the Greater Southern Waterfront and in HDB towns like Punggol, Tengah and Paya Lebar.
Said Mr Wong: "When we say we are not done building Singapore, it's not a slogan. It's a single-minded commitment and mission to keep building and improving our city.
"I can confidently say that over the coming years and decades, Singapore will be undergoing its most extensive urban transformation yet."