Experts hope that the 2016 Budget, which will be announced this Thursday (24 March), will solve some current problems with the Fresh Start Housing Scheme, reported Channel NewsAsia.
This scheme helps HDB tenants purchase their own flat, with a focus on families with young children, and those who previously owned a home.
But a key problem is fine-tuning the eligibility criteria to ensure that the beneficiaries really deserve such assistance, said DTZ’s Research Head Lee Nai Jia.
“I think this is a great scheme. The key problem is how we are going to identify this group and their income ceiling, and (how we are going to define) the type of benefits to give this group.”
According to Saktiandi Supaat, member of the Government Parliamentary Committee for National Development, the scheme provides a second chance to families currently leasing an HDB flat, particularly those who were forced to sell their original unit due to an unavoidable issue.
However, the support given should take into account the different circumstances of each household.
“There could be more support in terms of grants and there could also be some conditions for the grants to be disbursed,” said Saktiandi. For instance, families would first have to show proof that they have the means to pay for the new flats.
Aside from providing grants and the actual house, it is also important to educate families about responsible homeownership, financial management, and activities to keep their children in school, explained the Fei Yue Family Service Centre.
“We don’t want to come to a point where they are on the scheme, and then there is a setback, and they are penalised or thrown out of the scheme,” said the centre’s principal social worker, Lilian Ong.
“We could introduce some sort of readiness or transitional programme to prepare the whole family for this”, and this should run for six months, she said.
The Housing Board and the Ministry of National Development have held public consultations to gather suggestions on implementing the scheme. The feedback includes provision of concessionary loans and more grants, as well as shorter leases.
Picture Source: The Fresh Start Housing Scheme is targeted at families with young children.
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