More help for couples to live with or near parents

More help for couples to live with or near parents

YOUNGER couples who want to live with or near their parents may soon get more help, said National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan as he mulls over measures to help them.

On the cards are possibly larger housing grants, more three-generation flats and even doing away with balloting completely, by giving them "absolute priority" when flats are balloted.

This is in addition to the larger grants and higher number of chances that they currently enjoy for buying resale and new flats respectively.

The likely new measures were disclosed by Mr Khaw in his blog yesterday, in which he revealed that there remains a sizeable number who are unable to live with or near their parents, even though they want to do so.

A Housing Board survey showed that the proportion of young couples who live with or near their parents increased from 31 per cent in 2003 to 37 per cent last year.

It still falls short of the 50 per cent who have expressed a desire to be near their parents, revealed Mr Khaw.

It is unclear why this remaining 13 per cent could not make the move, but he hinted that more would be done to help them. Larger grants could be an option, he said.

"We... provide a higher-tier CPF Housing Grant to eligible first-timers who buy an HDB resale flat with or in the same estate as their parents ($40,000 instead of $30,000). Should we widen the difference? Will this help more to live together or near their parents?" he asked.

He also cautioned against shutting out young couples as a result of the "alumni" effect, so that those whose parents do not live in their preferred estates still have opportunities to move into them.

Another alternative is to encourage parents to live in non-mature estates near their married children, he said.

This is because "mature estates would have limited land to build large numbers of new flats", he observed.

The Ministry of National Development has started consulting the public on a number of housing issues, including how such young couples may be helped. Members of the public can sign up for the dialogue or give their views at www.mnd.

A suggestion is for greater flexibility in loan approvals to help young couples live near their parents, said Mr Terry Lim, a corporate communications manager in a volunteer welfare organisation.

The 30-year-old is marrying his 23-year-old fiancee next year and the maximum HDB loan they could take based on their current income is insufficient to buy a resale flat in Bishan or Ubi where their parents live.

"We can go for BTO flats, but it means living far away from parents and waiting a few years for the flat," he said, referring to Build-To-Order flats.

"The HDB can take into account that our salaries will go up, approve a bigger loan, so that we can buy a flat near our parents."

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