National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said in parliament yesterday (4 March) that the government will strive to accommodate large families in public rental housing, adding that land supply is one of the key constraints for the government to provide bigger units for large families.
Nominated member of parliament (NMP) Anthea Ong raised questions in parliament yesterday pertaining to the problem of overcrowding in Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats. She pointed out that the maximum occupancy cap for rental flats is different than the occupancy cap under the public rental scheme.
Ms Ong claimed that the occupancy cap for rental flats includes a maximum of six occupancy in four- to three-bedroom HDB flats and four occupancy in any smaller flats.
However, for the public rental scheme, only one- to two-bedroom flats are available, and families without income are only eligible for one-bedroom flats, regardless of the number of family members living together, Ms Ong said.
“This results in families of five or six squeezing into one bedroom flat or even families of more than 10 in two-bedroom flats,” she noted. She went on to highlight the adverse effects of overcrowding such as the eroding of family ties, frequent conflicts in the family, impact on the children’s overall development and more.
She then asked the government whether it would consider allocating three-room flats and above to families of five and over under the public rental scheme.
In response to that, Mr Wong clarified that “the occupancy caps imposed on HDB owners who are renting out their flats, these caps are only applied to the tenants who are renting the flats, the occupancy caps do not apply to family members who are living together in their own flat or rental flat.”
Despite the government’s interest to provide bigger units for large families, Mr Wong claimed that land supply is one of the key constraints to fulfill that as it is important to ensure the demand for flats in the country can be met on a sustainable basis in the long run.
“That’s actually getting harder and harder to do, as our island gets more built up,” Mr Wong noted. “So we do need to take a pragmatic approach for single tenants as SPS said just now, most are prepared to share and are able to live in a rental flat together.”
The minister further explained that most families with children are already living in two-bedroom flats.
“For very large families, we do our best to accommodate them,” he said, adding that the government can also offer nuclear families with two rental units in the same block.
“On a case by case basis, we will be prepared to offer larger families a 3-room rental flats,” Mr Wong added.
Meanwhile, the government will also prepare to consider the request for those with medical conditions to have their own rental flats.