Budget debate: 90 singles to move into public rental flats under pilot matching scheme

The pilot at the two sites in Bedok (pictured) and Buangkok Crescent is progressing well and tenants were generally able to get along. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Around 90 singles have been accepted into a pilot housing programme that does not require them to first find a flatmate, said Minister of State for National Development Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim.

The pilot at two public rental blocks in Bedok and Buangkok Crescent is progressing well and tenants who had moved in were generally able to get along, said Associate Professor Faishal during the debate on his ministry's budget on Tuesday (March 8).

He was responding to Mr Chong Kee Hiong (Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC) and Mr Lim Biow Chuan (Mountbatten), who raised concerns over challenges that applicants may face in getting along with their new flatmates.

Prof Faishal said the Housing Board understands these concerns and will continue to explore ways to address them.

As at end-February, about 170 of the 600 applicants assessed were found eligible, said HDB in a statement on Tuesday.

So far, about 1,400 singles have applied for the scheme, it added.

Launched last December, the Joint Singles Scheme Operator-Run model allows singles to apply for a rental flat individually. They will be paired up with a flatmate.

It serves as an alternative to the Joint Singles Scheme (JSS) where singles have to apply for a unit with someone they know, such as a relative or friend.

To quality for either model, tenants must be Singaporeans who are at least 35 years old, with no family support and no other housing options.

About 110 units of one- and two-room flats at Block 429A Bedok North Road and Block 999A Buangkok Crescent have been set aside for the pilot, to accommodate up to 270 tenants.

Social service agency Good News Community Services has been appointed via an open tender to run both sites for three years.

The pilot will be extended to a third site at Block 465A Bukit Batok West Ave 8, where 50 units will be allocated to house around 120 tenants.

HDB is expected to award the tender for this site in the second quarter of this year, with the first batch of tenants expected to move in from the third quarter of this year.

HDB said it will consider extending the model to other locations, subject to demand.

Flats under the pilot will come with partitions installed to provide more privacy for the tenants.

General household furnishings and appliances such as wardrobes, water heater, washing machine and refrigerator, are also provided within each flat.

Before allocating the flats, the operator will first interview prospective tenants to assess their personalities and needs. A social worker will be assigned to pair the tenants up, taking into account their gender, religion, ethnicity, spoken languages, age, lifestyle habits, employment as well as daily routines.

The operator will conduct befriending and bonding activities as well as regular check-ins with tenants. It will also step in to mediate in case of disputes.

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