3Gen flats? Parents prefer bigger grants, priority for kids

A total of 50 three-generation or 3Gen flats will be among the new Housing Board apartments that will be launched in new town Tampines North later this year.

These 3Gen flats, introduced last September to encourage multiple generations to live under one roof, are larger than a five-room unit.

However, they received a lukewarm response at a discussion on Thursday among married couples with adult children, on the topic of living close to extended family members.

Instead, the parents were far more keen on the Government giving bigger grants and higher, if not absolute, priority for their children to buy flats near them.

But the 3Gen flats are just one way to encourage closer family ties, said Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee when he spoke of the Tampines North move at the session organised by his ministry.

"It is not the 3Gen flat or nothing," he said, pointing out that it is one of many HDB flat types available to Singaporeans. Also, it complements two schemes that promote living close to extended family members.

One is the Married Child Priority Scheme: Those who choose to live near their parents will double their chances when balloting for a flat, while those who live with their parents will triple their chances.

The other is the Multi-Generation Priority Scheme. It sets aside up to 15 per cent of studio apartments and two- and three-room flats in a Build-To-Order project for couples and their parents who apply for separate new flats in the same project.

In acknowledging the crowd's tepid response to the 3Gen flat, Mr Lee said: "There's always the negative possibility of friction that may cause families to lose that spirit of closeness."

"Different people have different aspirations," he added, on how close they want to live to their extended family. "We'll try our best to meet every Singaporean's wish."

To this end, Mr Lee said his ministry will seriously consider giving higher grants for resale flats. Now, the $10,000 grant is only for first-time HDB owners buying a resale flat with or near their parents or married children.

About 70 per cent of the 51 people at the four-hour session asked for an increase in the grant.

Many also suggested that it keep up with inflation, or be a proportion of the cost of the flat.

Thursday's discussion was the third of four the ministry is holding. The earlier two were for courting couples and married couples with young or no children.

The final one is on July 15. All Singaporeans are invited to sign up for it at www.mnd.gov.sg/ homesweethome/


This article was first published on June 21, 2014.
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