3-room BTO flats for singles - not now, but not never

3-room BTO flats for singles - not now, but not never

Once, single Singaporeans could not buy a Housing Board flat. Not a new, subsidised one. Not one on the resale market.

Then, in 1991, the rules changed. Those aged at least 35 could buy three-room or smaller resale flats. In 2004, resale flats of any size were open to them.

However, the biggest shift came last July, when the Government allowed singles to buy new, subsidised two-room flats as solo purchasers.

And now, in no time at all, the bar of public expectations has been raised further. Singles are now asking, as two did in letters to The Straits Times Forum page: "When can we buy three-room subsidised flats?"

Two things have changed to nudge the HDB to provide for singles.

One is the recent move to make public housing more inclusive. The Government has long maintained a pro-family policy in public housing, which is implemented by the HDB.

Those who want to buy a new, subsidised HDB flat usually need to form a "family nucleus" - they can be a married couple, with or without children; a divorcee, widow or widower with children; or a single with one or more parents.

In 1988, then National Development Minister S. Dhanabalan had explained why singles would not be allowed to buy HDB flats: "While we cannot force people to stay with their families, public housing policy should not be such as to encourage them to move out of the family home."

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