More 2 and 3 room HDB flats to be built in the next few months

The construction and upgrading of HDB flats will be a major project in the months ahead. The National Development Ministry said these are ongoing projects which will not be affected by the economy.

Construction costs may have gone up but so has the demand for public housing.

National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan said: “The mix of the new flats that we’re building will change from the bigger flats now to the smaller flats that we will continue to build.”

The National Development Ministry said it intends to build more housing especially two and three room flats. This is to cope with the expected rising demand from Singaporeans hit by the economic downturn.

The ministry said 1,000 two- to three-room flats will be offered under the Build To Order (BTO) scheme this year.

Some 2,000 more such flats will be offered annually over the next few years depending on demand.

Mr Mah continued: “I think the current priority is to help the lower income. Because I foresee that the economic situation will start to impact the lower income more at this point in time.

“This year, we’re building about 8,000 new flats. Close to 1,000 of them can be for the 2- and 3-room flats. So it’s quite a high proportion.

“When someone is in financial difficulty, he wants to downgrade, sometimes they ask for a rental flat. Our position is that HDB rental flats are only for the very needy. So if you’re downgrading and you need some cash, I would rather that we help you to move into a smaller flat, but a flat that you own rather than a flat that you keep renting.”

Mr Mah said some five to ten per cent of Singaporeans are in the lower income group and the Ministry will ensure there are enough new rental flats for them.

Although the Ministry encourages home ownership, it recognises that rental flats may be the best option for some lower income Singaporeans.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 22 Nov 2008