Senior Research Executive of the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) Chong Ning Qian had submitted a forum piece on the Straits Times about low-income families living in public rental housing.
Earlier in Parliament on 4 May, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong stated that 10 per cent of public rental households are in rent arrears, as well as how rent arrears alone would not result in termination of rental tenancies.
This meant that one in 10 families living in public rental flats have not paid their rent on time. About three in four of these households owe less than S$3,000 in rent.
Ms Chong acknowledged that this news was somewhat reassuring for the targeted group to have shelter amid the COVID-19 pandemic; however, she had further discussed on waiving rental fees for these families.
According to her, AWARE had been interviewing low-income families about how the coronavirus outbreak had affected their financial situation.
Not only that many of these families reside in public rental housing, but they had also experienced a loss in income because their jobs were negatively impacted by the safe distancing measures. Ms Chong mentioned that those jobs included house cleaners and waiters.
These targeted families revealed their anxiety in paying their bills which included rental, as well as for other daily necessities.
After describing the issues low-income families are experiencing during the coronavirus outbreak, Ms Chong suggested the Housing Board to consider waiving rental fees for the people who live in public rental housing during the pandemic.
She also revealed that even before the pandemic, more than 5,000 households in Singapore were already struggling to pay rent. This implies how the pandemic would worsen their situation given that they would not be able to go to work as usual.
Despite the fact that people in the public rental housing will not lose their homes immediately, Ms Chong predicted that more households will still end up in the same difficult situation due to the impact on the economy caused by the pandemic.
She expressed that these households may be forced to compromise on other aspects of their lives such as cutting down food expenses, in order to cope with the struggle.
As one of the staff from AWARE, Ms Chong called for more support to be given to low-income households to at least ensure that they are sheltered during the current crisis.
“Being guaranteed a home allows people in crisis situations more choices for their well-being.”
“We hope that more support will be given to low-income households during this period to ensure that they have a roof over their heads.”