HDB has not lost heart: Khaw

SINGAPORE - The Housing Board has not lost its compassion even though it stands out as the largest housing developer here, said National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan.

The minister highlighted three examples in his blog on on Friday of how the agency exercised good judgement, particularly when young children were involved. "Whenever an unexpected family tragedy comes to our attention, HDB officers, together with the local grassroots leaders, will immediately visit the bereaved family to find out how we can be of help," he wrote.

In one case two years ago, a Singaporean man passed away suddenly at work leaving behind his foreigner wife and four young Singaporean children. When the tragedy struck, they had been waiting to move into their new Build-to-Order flat in Choa Chu Kang, and were currently staying in a rental flat.

HDB officers had immediately reached out to them, and allowed them to keep the flat, while lowering their monthly rental fee so they would be less burdened.

In another case last month, a couple has passed away suddenly leaving behind a teenager who could not keep up with mortgage payments. HDB then made a special exception and deferred the mortgage payments until she started working.

Mr Khaw said that the second case highlighted the need for buyers to take up the Home Protection Scheme, which is an insurance plan which reduces the mortgage should the insured member die prematurely or become incapable of servicing the loan.

Despite it being inexpensive, some HDB flat owners still do not subscribe to such plans, he added.

The HPS is only required for flat owners using their Central Provident Fund to service their housing loan and starts from $13 a month. "HDB will be as compassionate as it can to help victims of circumstances address their housing needs when tragedies strike," said Mr Khaw, "However, parents should also help their children and plan ahead. Buying an appropriate insurance is one good avenue."

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