Minister hopes to shorten rental flat queue with new criteria

A shorter queue for the needy to rent a flat from the government. That’s what National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan hopes to achieve when he announced stricter rules for Singaporeans who want to rent a flat at subsidised rates from the Housing and Development Board (HDB).

Currently, it takes about two years to rent a HDB flat. But the waiting time may be reduced to one year, with stricter rules for applicants.

Mr Mah said he hopes the stricter rules will mean fewer eligible people will join the queue, and weed out at least a third of those who can afford other forms of housing.

“They (the stricter rules) are meant to allow the more needy to join the queue and allow them to get their flats faster,” Mr Mah told reporters at a Lunar New Year dinner on Saturday.

But, he said, enforcing the new rules may require HDB officers to do extra work, especially for exceptional cases.

“Those who don’t fit the criteria but we’re not sure, then HDB will have to do those checks,” said Mr Mah.

“This is where I think the process will be a little slower but this is something HDB is prepared to do.”

But, Mr Mah said, genuine cases can also be brought forward in the queue which is not based on a first-come-first-served basis.

He added that genuinely needy cases will also be exempted from the 13-month debarment.

Mr Mah, who is an MP for Tampines GRC, also called on residents there not to compromise on education expenses during tough times.

To help the residents, a grassroots organisation in Tampines has given out over $43,000 worth of bursaries to some 200 needy students in November last year.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 7 Feb 2009

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