Budget debate: Housing grant to help families in rental flats buy second HDB flat upped to $50,000

Under the Fresh Start housing grant, eligible families will receive $35,000 upfront in their CPF Ordinary Account when they collect their keys. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A housing grant that helps families in public rental flats to buy their second Housing Board (HDB) flat will be increased from $35,000 to $50,000.

To provide families under the Fresh Start Housing Scheme with more housing options, households will also have the option to buy three-room flats on a shorter lease length, on top of the two-room flexi flats currently offered, said National Development Minister Desmond Lee on Tuesday (March 8).

To keep units more affordable, both the two-room flexi and three-room flats will be offered with leases of 45 to 65 years in five-year increments, as long as the lease can cover the youngest applicant up to the age of 95.

Offering three-room flats on shorter leases will provide families with more housing options, he said, noting this is being done for the first time.

"It is a substantial change that we're making in our housing policies, to support lower-income families and their children, as they seek to improve their lives," he added during the debate on his ministry's spending plans.

He was responding to Mr Gan Thiam Poh and Ms Nadia Ahmad Samdin (both Ang Mo Kio GRC) who asked about help given to rental households to own their own homes.

Under the Fresh Start housing grant, eligible families will receive $35,000 upfront in their CPF Ordinary Account when they collect their keys.

The remaining $15,000 will be disbursed into the same account in equal tranches over the next five years.

Families will also receive close support from a social service agency to ensure that they can continue to own their homes, said Mr Lee.

Introduced in 2016, the scheme helps families with at least one child below the age of 18 and had previously bought a subsidised flat to buy their second HDB flat.

Flats sold under the Fresh Start Housing scheme have a 20-year minimum occupation period to ensure a stable home for the families and children.

There are currently around 51,100 households living in public rental flats.

To further help families stay on track in their journey towards home ownership, the Fresh Start Support Programme was set up in 2019 to facilitate closer and more regular contact with public rental families to address any issue, said the Ministry of National Development and HDB in a release on Tuesday.

Since 2019, families who do not quality for the scheme but "demonstrate good potential and motivation to own their own home" may be given special consideration to book a Build-To-Order (BTO) flat, said the agencies.

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