HDB disburses $550m under Proximity Housing Grant

A total of 29,600 households so far have received around $550 million under the Proximity Housing Grant scheme, which was introduced in August 2015 to foster closer family ties for mutual care and support.
A total of 29,600 households so far have received around $550 million under the Proximity Housing Grant scheme, which was introduced in August 2015 to foster closer family ties for mutual care and support.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Around 4,500 families and singles have set up home in the same Housing Board block or even in the same flat as their parents or children in the past four years.

Such families were among 30,100 first-timers who applied for the Proximity Housing Grant (PHG), which was introduced in August 2015 to foster closer family ties for mutual care and support.

The number of applicants represented a third of the total of 96,800 who registered between Aug 24, 2015 and Dec 31 last year for resale flats, figures released by the Housing Board (HDB) yesterday showed.

Around $550 million has been disbursed to 29,600 households under the PHG scheme so far.

Under the scheme, which applies to resale flats, first-timer families or singles receive $20,000 and $10,000 respectively, when they buy a resale flat within 4km of their parents or child's home.

For families or singles who buy a resale flat to live with their parents or children, the amount rises to $30,000 and $15,000 respectively.

As for new flats, HDB said that for the final four months of last year, it received 26,500 applications from first-time buyers.

Out of those applications, about 80 per cent or 20,800 households were eligible for HDB's Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (EHG) that supplants the former Additional CPF Housing Grant and the Special CPF Housing Grant.

HDB also received about 7,300 applications for resale flats between Sept 11 and Dec 31 last year, with half coming from first-time buyers. Almost all applicants were eligible for the EHG.

For Ms Sandra Tan, 26 and her fiance Ang Shouchen, 32, the grants helped when they were looking for a place of their own.

After numerous failed attempts to acquire a Build-To-Order (BTO) flat - due to high demand - the couple then turned to the resale market, and were surprised by the grants they were eligible for.

 
 
 
 

Resale flats were a quicker way to home ownership, and the grants for her particular case were higher than those for a BTO unit, Ms Tan said.

They eventually bought a four-room resale flat in Choa Chu Kang to be near Mr Ang's parents - with $90,000 in housing grants, consisting of a $50,000 CPF Housing Grant, a $20,000 EHG and $20,000 PHG.

Mr Lee Sze Teck, director of research at Huttons Group, said the PHG was a "very good" social policy because it encourages families to live close together to offer support to one another.

The numbers also suggest the different schemes are working, he added.

The head of research and consultancy at ERA Realty, Mr Nicholas Mak, said a large number of singles appear to be looking to live near their parents, which is an "encouraging sign" and shows that the PHG scheme appears to be achieving its aims.

But he added that HDB could give families more options by going beyond the 4km radius, although he acknowledged this could introduce problems.

"If you widen it, it will make more households eligible (for the scheme), but it will also weaken family ties. People will end up living in a totally different town, and have transport problems."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 17, 2020, with the headline 'HDB disburses $550m under Proximity Housing Grant'. Print Edition | Subscribe