New scheme to help Malay families in rental flats own their own homes

Census data showed that the number of Malay households in 1- and 2-room rented HDB flats more than doubled in the past decade
Census data showed that the number of Malay households in 1- and 2-room rented HDB flats more than doubled in the past decadeST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

SINGAPORE - A new programme seeks to improve the lot of Malay families in public rental flats by providing holistic support through national and community initiatives, with the aim of guiding them towards owning their own homes.

Called Project DIAN@M3, the scheme will be rolled out in Geylang Serai, Bedok and Jalan Besar.

It will be managed by the Engagement Coordination Office under the Government's M3 programme, which is a tie-up between Mendaki, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) and Mesra, the People's Association Malay Activity Executive Committees Council.

Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli told reporters during a briefing on Thursday (June 17) that while the Government's efforts to increase the number of rental flats has enabled more Malays to move out of cramped conditions and live on their own, it has also given rise to a worry that they might not wish to work towards owning their own home.

This is exacerbated by how these people are participating in the gig economy. It is of concern if they make such jobs their permanent career, said the minister, given how they do not have Central Provident Fund (CPF) contributions, which are used by most for purchasing public homes.

"We are worried that it will be an entrenchment of our community within this rental paradigm," said Mr Masagos.

Census data released this week showed that the number of Malay households in 1- and 2-room rented HDB flats more than doubled in the past decade, from about 9,100 in 2010 to about 18,600 in 2020.

The number of households from other races in 1- and 2- room rented HDB flats increased at a smaller rate over the decade. For Chinese households, this number went up from 28,000 to 28,700, while Indian households saw a jump from 4,600 to 6,800.

M3 said that Project DIAN@M3 will support households in rented flats through the "integration of assets'' within the community. It did not specify what these assets were, or how they would be integrated.

The scheme also aims to provide socio-economic support to seniors living in public rental flats.

Project DIAN@M3 will build upon the partnerships which M3 has with the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Social and Family Development and other Malay/Muslim organisations.

M3 said it has in place initiatives to support families in the community living in rental housing by streamlining outreach efforts, so as to avoid over-engaging families and cross-deploying volunteers.

Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development Faishal Ibrahim, who was also at the briefing, said Project DIAN@M3 augments the efforts that are already in place, by encouraging families to work towards being able to purchase their own flats.

"This initiative aims to motivate families to move towards homeownership, by raising access to national and community programs across education, employment, health, and social support," he said.