Crafting Responsive Housing Policies

Public views are being sought on the Fresh Start Housing Scheme to be aimed at struggling families with children, living in public rental flats. Recent change on housing policies include the increase of income ceiling to $14,000 for executive condo applicants. Existing HDB EC in th market include The Terrace EC, Brownstone EC, Signature EC at Yishun while upcoming ones include Wandervale EC and Parc Life EC.

At first glance, some might frown at those who’ve squandered public housing ownership benefits obtained earlier, wound up in rental homes again, and are now back in line for another flat offered cheaply by the state to the low-income. Indeed, the received wisdom, that has made the nation a crucible of self responsibility, is built on the notion that it’s both need and the motivation to move forward on one’s own steam that justifies wide social support given to those who are down. If such individuals seek to simply cash out subsidised assets, that would be ruinous for both them and society as a whole over time.

However, a changing ethos has led to policymakers seeing the issues affecting low-wage families through the multiple lenses of sociology, economics, culture and psychology. Dysfunctionality can arise for a variety of reasons, like unstable relationships, money woes, unemployment, a family member’s addiction or imprisonment, and illness. To implement housing rules strictly could further hobble such families, while lax regulation of benefits might not bring about positive change.

To strike a proper balance, one must first acknowledge what economists call the “positive externalities” (broad public benefits) of housing schemes. These are realised when children do not fall behind educationally living in cramped rented quarters, families avoid homelessness, local communities are improved, and the cycle of poverty is not left unbroken. Fundamentally, sound schemes promote social solidarity by letting disadvantaged Singaporeans know their fellow citizens are fully on board in wanting to offer them opportunities to advance.

signature at yishun ec executive condo site pic 1