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Jamus Lim & Louis Chua: Singapore needs more diverse housing options, especially for the young

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The first proposal is a universal sale and leaseback scheme, which would permit flat owners to sell them back to HDB, which Mr Chua says addresses one of the issues with the 99-year-lease decay problems, and with the HDB as the buyer of last resort, would provide stability to housing valuations.

SINGAPORE: This week, Workers’ Party MPs Louis Chua and Jamus Lim tackled the public housing problems facing Singaporeans in the past few years, with higher prices and longer wait times in order to get an HDB flat.

The first is a universal sale and leaseback scheme, which would permit flat owners to sell them back to HDB, which Mr Chua says addresses one of the issues with the 99-year-lease decay problems, and with the HDB as the buyer of last resort, would provide stability to housing valuations.

The second proposal is Widespread SERS and SERS+, which is an expansion of the current SERS (Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme), the programme to renew older housing estates that allows eligible residents to have an opportunity to move to a new home with a new 99-year lease. At present, SERS only applies to a small fraction of public housing, hence the need to expand.

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The third proposal is implementing Different Lease Duration Schemes. The WP proposes that instead of the 99-year lease, having a baseline of 70 years and then providing the option of another 29 years, if the homeowner desires it.

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Assoc Prof Lim likened this to booking a holiday for two weeks when you only want to say for 10 days. People would rather book the 10 days, and then have the option of extending for two weeks if they need or want to.

The MPs again underlined the conflict between CPF and retirement adequacy versus HDB and the need to house people.

They also talked about better options for public rental housing, which will also mean changing mindsets, as renting can be seen as inferior to homeownership.

“Ultimately, what we want to put on the table is a greater degree of flexibility—just giving Singaporeans many more options rather than be stuck with the few cookie-cutter ones that we already have and to push the boundaries of the ones we already have,” Assoc Prof Lim said.

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In the first part, Mr Chua explained the crux of Singapore’s public housing dilemma, that homes are expected to be both affordable and investment at the same time. And in the second installment, Assoc Prof Lim examined the history of public housing in Singapore and explained how the current issues came about.

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For the third portion, Assoc Prof Lim explained how HDB builds, prices, and sells housing units, as well as asked if there is an alternative way.

In the final installment, which, like the others, may be viewed on the WP’s Facebook and YouTube pages, the two Sengkang GRC MPs shared the different alternative public housing proposals put forth by the Workers’ Party.

These alternatives to the current housing policy may be read about in greater detail in the WP’s housing paper.

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/TISG

Jamus Lim: Government can do more in terms of building HDB flats in advance

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