Ms Chanel Koh, a single mother raising two children, had shared her woeful tale in a Facebook post that has gone viral, regarding her many challenges in find housing arrangements for her family of three.
In the Facebook post published on 12 Feb, Ms Chanel expressed her anger as she listed the challenges she had to face as a divorcee in trying to rent a flat with the Housing & Development Board (HDB).
She disclosed that her divorce was yet to be finalized and due to the existing terms and regulations imposed by HDB, she was restrained from doing anything and that significantly impacted her ability to care for her children.
The lengthy Facebook post recorded the many difficulties faced by Ms Channel beginning with her parentless upbringing, to being put in an abusive foster care system which affected her persona and led her to an abusive relationship with her ex-husband.
Last Tuesday (11 February), Ms Chanel was evicted and only with the help of her social worker from the Fei Yue Family Service Centre, a non-profit organisation, she has temporarily been placed in a home at Serangoon. This temporary placement is troublesome for Ms Chanel as she explains that she works at Henderson, located in Bukit Merah, whereas her schooling children attend Tradehub 21, near Jurong East.
Along with the Facebook post, Ms Chanel shared several screenshots of conversations with a HDB officer which led to no solution.
In connection with this, Mothership is said to be in communication with HDB for further clarification. HDB representatives affirmed that they have been working together with Fei Yue organization on Ms Chanel’s recent application for rental housing.
So far, there has been no response from HDB in regards to Ms Chanel’s case.
Netizens commenting on Mothership’s Facebook page were quick to jump in to express their disgruntlement with HDB’s housing allocation judgement.
A large majority, consisting of single mothers, recount their difficult stories in trying to find housing for their families. Some netizens opine that the law is biased and does not cater to the existential problems of single mothers.
Vanessa Koh, Kimmy Joy and Sheila Kamis say that HDB rules are against single mothers. The HDB promises to help but does not do much.
Vanessa Koh says that because she is unable to find housing with HDB, she was forced to move back in with her abusive, arrogant husband from whom she was separated.
Meanwhile, Sheila Kamis, another divorcee, claims that she had to find her own housing in the open market though financially she was hard-pressed.
Mother of two special needs children, Ms Karen Kailun, explains that she faces a similar situation and fears that she would soon be evicted as well. She highlights that she is not allowed to be included as current occupants in her aunt’s place. She also faces harassment from a neighbor. She says that the government agency does nothing to help people who are in these situations.
Others were also quick to chide HDB for their refusal to provide housing assistance during their time of need. At the same time, some netizens expressed that they have given up hope in HDB.
Siti Saad writes, “I had the same issue and even worse. I have my two aged parents with me. My appeal was rejected twice with the officer asking me to ‘stay with your family or relatives’. HDB is no longer for the people”.
In sync with this, netizens are outraged as they refer to HDB as heartless and unhelpful during dire times. They say Singapore’s family unit has changed over the years and pressures all around are causing breakups. But the government and HDB are blind to this. They seem to be operating on old family systems and values, say the netizens, leaving them stuck in their old procedures.
Eddie Tan writes, “Aiyo HDB officer do not care how sad is her stories is just follow the BOOK is YES mean can if no mean cannot then sorry and just close the door”.
Netizens, on behalf of Ms Chanel, appealed to HDB to reconsider their screening process and approve Ms Chanel’s housing application. Derrica Chuah reasons that despite her background, Ms Chanel is a good mother and deserves an opportunity to provide for her children. She appealed to the HDB to make an exception in regards to Ms Chanel’s case.