We, the undersigned, are single parents, children of single parents, and people who support single parents. We urge the Singapore Government to reform housing policies to give single-parent families fairer access to stable, affordable housing.
At the moment, policies create disadvantage and hardship for parents like us, who are unmarried, divorced, widowed or have spouses who have abandoned us. We need stable homes with space for our children to grow up in. Complicated rules that favour married couples leave us with long waits, frequent house moves, overcrowding, strained family relationships, financial drain, and stress.
The current system of “case by case” appeals leaves many with unmet needs. We urge you to make the rules and system more inclusive through the following changes:
- Increase the income cap for public rental housing, and set it on a per-capita basis. Right now, households cannot earn more than $1,500 if they want to apply for or keep rental housing. This is especially unrealistic for a parent with one or more children. We should not have to choose between a roof over our heads and a better-paying job to give our children a better life.
- Allow divorced parents with full, split or shared care and control of children to rent public housing or buy subsidised housing immediately after sale of the matrimonial flat, i.e. remove the 30-month bar on rental and three-year bar on purchase. This is in addition to the long wait we may have for the final divorce judgment to start queueing. We and our children need quicker access to new homes for stable lives: not rules imposing delay, instability and financial stress.
- Allow unmarried mothers to form a family nucleus with their children to apply for HDB housing. Currently, we can only purchase under the Singles Scheme at 35 years old. We can only buy smaller and less accessible subsidised flats.
- Make information about housing eligibility clearer and more accessible. We find information on different schemes, rules or waivers - and how to qualify - on the HDB website difficult to understand. The website also leaves many queries unanswered. Front-line officers often do not proactively offer clear explanations of options. HDB should also be transparent with how its “case-by-case” approach works.
- Create a special unit to coordinate services for single parent families and reduce reliance on direct appeals for case-by-case decisions. It is confusing and stressful, as well as inefficient, to have to run around to multiple channels (like social workers and MPs), with no assurance of success. As HDB is the agency responsible for public housing, more cases should be resolved with their direct support and consultation, not through MP referral and social workers.
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