Housing policy for single parents in Singapore: Petition for changes rejected
A recent petition to bring about reforms in public housing policy for single parents in Singapore has been rejected by the MND...
A recent petition to bring about reforms in public housing policy for single parents in Singapore has been rejected by the Ministry of National Development (MND).
In February this year, a study by the Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware) involving 55 single mums had found that 95 % of those who sought public housing faced problems.
These mums were divorced, unmarried, separated, widowed, or had spouses in prison.
To overcome these problems, Aware had called for recommendations like:
- Improve affordability and conditions for rental housing for single parents and their children by increasing the S$1,500 income cap.
- Remove barriers to home ownership for single parents, by providing housing grants for single parents with (split) care and control of children and exempting single parents from resale levy etc.
- Lifting debarment periods for rental housing (30 months) and HDB flat purchases (3 years) for divorcees.
- Allowing unwed mothers to form a family nucleus with their child when applying for HDB housing.
In September 2017, MP Louis Ng (Nee Soon GRC) had submitted a petition to the Government requesting for reforms in public housing for single parents.
The petition called for amendments to sections 47 and 65 of the Housing and Development Act so that parents with legal custody of a child will not be restricted from purchasing a Housing and Development Board (HDB) flat, regardless of their marital status.
Mr Ng had said in Parliament, "As a parent to three young ones, I cannot imagine going through my parenthood journey alone and I can appreciate how difficult it must be for single parents.”
Mr Ng’s petition had been signed by 7 single parents.
According to The Straits Times, on Wednesday, November 29, it was made known however, that MND had rejected the petition.
In a written response, MND said that a change in law was currently not required, "The government is committed to housing the nation and ensuring the well-being of our children. However, achieving these goals do not require special legislative exemptions."
“In relation to meeting the housing needs of children with single parents, a range of government agencies work together to ensure that no child is without adequate housing, regardless of whether his or her parents are single or married.”
MND also said it is mindful "not to undermine the prevailing social norm of parenthood within marriage" when helping unmarried parents.
They have opined that, currently, HDB is able to make changes at policy level, which does not require changing the law, “At the same time, it is not possible for our policies to cater to every case and circumstance. Instead, for cases which our policies have not covered, we evaluate them holistically and exercise flexibility to help various households with their housing needs, according to their circumstances.”
“We thus welcome dialogue with organisations who can provide constructive suggestions, and wish to be part of a collective effort to support families in need."
The decision has disappointed single parents in Singapore, who were hoping for a more positive turnaround.
Ms Jolene Tan, head of advocacy and research at Aware, said: "Single parents have made it clear that, despite MND's promises, housing policies aren't meeting their needs."
"The Committee has missed an opportunity to respond to the needs and concerns of Singapore's vulnerable families."