11,000 households get $211m in proximity housing grants

About $211 million in government grants has been disbursed to help some 11,000 families buy resale flats in Housing Board estates so that they can live close to their parents or their married children.

A further 1,000 families will get the grants after completing their resale flat deals, the Housing Board said yesterday.

These 12,000 households who tapped the proximity housing grant represent about a quarter of the 50,000 HDB resale flat transactions registered between Aug 24, 2015, and Dec 31 last year.

Under the scheme introduced in August 2015, all Singaporean citizen families who buy resale flats to live with or near parents or a married child will receive a grant of $20,000. Eligible singles also enjoy a proximity grant of $10,000 if buying a resale flat to live with their parents.

All Singaporeans qualify once for the grant – regardless of household income, ownership of private property or whether they have enjoyed housing subsidies before. But those owning private properties need to dispose of them within six months of the resale flat deal.

The HDB said 54 per cent of the 12,000 households would not have qualified for any housing grants before the introduction of the proximity scheme. Families made up 93 per cent of applicants, with the rest being singles.

Slightly over half – 52 per cent – bought flats in non-mature estates such as Bukit Panjang, Punggol and Yishun. Children who bought resale flats to live close to, or with their parents, made up 93 per cent of applicants, while parents who wanted to be close to their children made up the rest.

IT analyst Ng Yang Ting, 34, and his wife Goh Ya Zhen, 31, applied last September to buy a resale flat in Bukit Panjang.

They decided on a four-room flat in the estate – where Mr Ng lived for some 30 years – to be close to his family, and also because they failed in three previous Build-To-Order (BTO) flat applications.

The couple said the $70,000 in savings – $50,000 from the CPF Housing Grant and $20,000 from the proximity grant – lessened their financial burden. On the biggest benefit, Mr Ng said: “(The flat is) a few blocks from my mother’s home and my other siblings’ homes, in the same neighbourhood we grew up in.”

The scheme also helped Madam Sameera Begam Mohamed Aiyubu, 24, and her husband Mohammed Farook Mohamed Sultan, 32. The couple lived with Madam Sameera’s parents in Sengkang and decided to buy their own flat after Mr Farook, an Indian national, became a permanent resident in August 2016. They were also pressed for time as Madam Sameera’s older brother was getting married and would be moving into the Sengkang flat with his wife.

After failing to secure a balance flat, Madam Sameera and her husband considered resale flats in May last year and bought a four-room unit in Sengkang within two months. They received their keys in November and saved about $85,000 through housing grants.

“It was a big financial relief, especially since we have our one-year-old boy to take care of,” said Madam Sameera, who quit her human resources job to look after her son. Mr Farook earns $2,500 a month as a marketing executive.

“(The flat) is two bus stops away from our parents so they can visit as often as they like. It is also much cheaper to renovate since we don’t have to start from scratch.”

Adapted from: The Straits Times, 12 February 2018