To tackle growing inequality and stratification, the Government is "going one step further" by having rental and purchased flat units within the same block, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said yesterday.
Currently, there are no Housing Board blocks designed to have both rental and sold flats. This is changing with three Build-To-Order blocks in Woodlands, Bukit Batok and Sengkang that will feature such integration from the outset. These blocks are being constructed.
Speaking on day four of the debate on the President's Address, Mr Wong outlined his ministry's efforts to build a better city that is more innovative, inclusive and resilient. President Halimah Yacob had cited housing as one of the ways the Government can "tackle inequality vigorously".
Mr Wong said: "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."
Mr Wong said in March that more of such blocks will be built if feedback from residents is positive.
There were around 58,000 rental flats as of March last year.
When we say we are not done building Singapore, it is not a slogan. It is a single-minded commitment and mission to keep building and improving our city.
NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT MINISTER LAWRENCE WONG
Various MPs have mooted the idea of integrated blocks, including Mr Louis Ng (Nee Soon GRC).
On Wednesday, Mr Murali Pillai (Bukit Batok) voiced his concern that standalone rental blocks are "sometimes built at the fringe of the housing estates", and run the danger of becoming ghettos.
In his speech yesterday, Mr Wong said an outstanding city is one that is not 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, we must deliberately plan for a more equal and inclusive society," said Mr Wong, who is also Second Minister for Finance.
In addition, Mr Wong said the Government is also doing more to help families living in rental flats.
It supported about 1,000 households last year with housing grants and new programmes like the Fresh Start Housing Scheme. This helped rental households become home owners, he said.
Besides families in rental flats, Mr Wong said the elderly living in studio or two-room flexi apartments must also be taken care of.
He highlighted Kampung Admiralty, a development which integrated these flat types with community services, medical facilities and shared spaces. The complex officially opened last Saturday, and more such kampungs will be planned in other HDB towns.
Singapore does not want a situation where lower-income or elderly residents inhabit "deteriorated neighbourhoods or towns", he said.
To that end, town councils, the Government and residents must take on the shared responsibility of renewing the buildings and infrastructure continuously, he added.
Mr Wong also outlined his ministry's plans to realise the vision of Singapore as a Global-Asian node of innovation and enterprise, listing future developments such as Changi Airport Terminal 5 and the Greater Southern Waterfront.
"When we say we are not done building Singapore, it is not a slogan. It is a single-minded commitment and mission to keep building and improving our city," he said.
"I can confidently say that over the coming years and decades, Singapore will be undergoing its most extensive urban transformation yet."