SINGAPORE: Details of the Fresh Start Housing Scheme, which aims to help second-timer families in rental flats buy a home, were released on Monday (Apr 11). Minister of National Development Lawrence Wong said his ministry aims to introduce the scheme by the end of the year.
Speaking in Parliament as part of the Committee of Supply debates, Mr Wong said that the scheme targets parents with school-going children.
Under the scheme, families who qualify will be able to by a new two-room Flexi flat, said the minister. The flats will come with shorter leases, ranging from 45 to 65 years, to keep the price affordable, and will also come with a longer Minimum Occupation Period of 20 years, to ensure a stable home for the children.
Those who apply for the scheme will also be given another Housing Development Board (HDB) concessionary loan, regardless of any previous HDB loans. The flat buyers’ CPF will be able to be used for the down-payment as well as mortgage payments.
The families will also get a Fresh Start Housing Grant of up to S$35,000, which will be pro-rated according to the lease of the flat they buy.
QUALIFYING FOR THE SCHEME
The scheme, first announced at the National Day Rally last year, will integrate financial assistance with personal responsibility and social support, said Mr Wong.
To qualify for the scheme and receive the full grant, families will have to show commitment to remain in stable employment, manage their finances well, and ensure their children are attending school regularly, he added.
Then, depending on the efforts made by the families, the the grant will correspondingly be disbursed in tranches over time. When they collect their keys, S$20,000 will be given, while the remainder will be given out annually over the next five years.
He added that Ministry of Social and Family Development officers will check in with these families to ensure that they are doing well, and to link them up with partners for social support if needed.
As for families that encounter difficulties after signing up for the scheme, Mr Wong said the ministry will consider individual circumstances and the effort they are making to meet the conditions.
“We will not reply on just a single criteria or matrix, because we will exercise discretion and judgement, and we will look at it case-by-case,” said Mr Wong.
He noted that those that might qualify for the scheme – those who are second-timers, with school-going children, and who do no have excessive arrears with HDB – number about 1,000, and that not all of them might choose take up the scheme.
“The numbers may not be very big, but I believe the scheme can and will have a meaningful impact on the families we are reaching out to,” said Mr Wong.
TENANTS’ PRIORITY SCHEME TO BE EXTENDED TO SECOND-TIMER FAMILIES
In a separate speech on Monday, Minister of State for National Development Koh Poh Koon said that the Tenants’ Priority Scheme (TPS), will be extended to second-time rental families, including Fresh Start Housing Scheme beneficiaries.
The scheme was earlier opened only to first-timer rental families, where 10 per cent of two- and three-room flats in sales exercises were set aside for them. Second-timer families had a lower allocation quota than first-timers when balloting for new HDB flats, and now, the extension of the scheme to second-timer families will increase their chances of owning a flat, Mr Koh said.
Like first-timer families, the second-timers will be eligible if they have stayed at least two years in public rental, and are applying for a two- or three-room flats.