The social and financial impact of no-frills flats, estates

I DISAGREE with the recommendations to build “no-frills” housing to meet the needs of young couples who cannot afford resale flats or even new flats direct from HDB.

Firstly, not having features such as playgrounds or BBQ pits in such a no-frills housing estate will have social repercussions. The idea contradicts the Government’s campaign of encouraging couples to start a family or have more children. Without family-friendly features such as a playground, where do the children of families living in such estates go to play? Where will neighbours or family members socialise without features such as BBQ pits or parks? Further, such an estate may be labelled as a “poor man’s estate” and with that comes other misconceptions.

Secondly, installing basic features such as flooring tiles, kitchen cabinets and maybe even built-in wardrobes can help cash burden on young couples, who would otherwise struggle to pay high renovation costs just to have such basic features in their homes. Such cash commitments may lead to them delaying family plans until the loans are taken care of. By including such basic features as part of the flat’s price, payment can be deducted from their CPF accounts, thus reducing their cash burden.

Thirdly, to help young couples afford new HDB flats I recommend that HDB consider a flexible payment option. Instead of fixing the monthly repayment amount from Day 1 until the end of the loan tenure, HDB can consider offering a lower monthly mortgage to young couples for the first five years. After that, HDB can reassess their financial status, and adjust the mortgage repayment accordingly.

Taman Jurong used to be for lower-income families whose children did not do well in school. Crime rates there were high. Today, it is no longer viewed as such with the development of new flats, including executive units. Jurong Point is one of the biggest and most successful suburban malls here ˜ testament to the affluence of Jurong residents.

Thus, why do we want to develop another “Taman Jurong”?

Lenny Sofia

Source : Today – 11 Feb 2009

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