Last Friday, Ms Stephanie Toh hosted a reunion dinner in her own home for the first time.
Her nine guests were welcomed into her three-room Housing Board flat in Yishun, the first she has owned.
The 27-year-old divorced mother of two girls, aged eight and five, previously lived in a two-room rental flat.
"There was not much you could call your own. My daughters and I had to make do with one queen-size mattress to sleep every night," said Ms Toh, an accounts assistant in an auditing firm.
With the help of government grants, she is now the sole owner of a Sale of Balance Flat (SBF) .
Ms Toh and her daughters now have their own rooms and beds.
She said: "The girls have so much room to run around and play hide-and-seek.
"We even have a storeroom for their bicycles and they can have more new toys."
Ms Toh, who divorced in 2014, lived in a rental flat for five years.
Money was a concern for the single mother when applying for a flat, but Ms Toh managed to obtain $65,000 in grants from HDB.
According to HDB, more than 80 per cent of rental tenants have received either the Additional CPF Housing Grant, the Special CPF Housing Grant or both to help them with the purchase of an HDB flat.
Since 2012, nearly 3,000 rental tenants have become first-time home buyers in Build-To-Order (BTO) or SBF sales exercises.
The grants have allowed Ms Toh to pay the rest of the price of the flat, which was $210,000, entirely through her Central Provident Fund (CPF).
Coming home has never been more satisfying for Ms Toh.
She now has her own kitchen, a luxury compared with the small stove she had in a corner of her rental flat.
"I feel like my home is complete now," she said.
"Getting my own flat was really a huge accomplishment in my life."
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This article was first published on Jan 31, 2017.
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