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    Jan 22, 2016

    Couples, lower income to get help to buy flats

    HAVING met demand for HDB flats from people, the Housing Board will now make sure young couples and the lower-income get help they need to own their homes.

    The elderly, too, will get help moving to smaller homes as well as moving about more easily at home and in their estates.

    The Ministry of National Development (MND), which oversees the board, outlined these plans yesterday in its addendum to the President's Address last Friday.

    Most importantly, public housing will continue to be inclusive. Said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong: "We will ensure that our housing policies continue to help young couples start a family, uplift the lower-income and vulnerable to a better future and enable our elderly to age gracefully."

    He added: "We remain committed to helping Singaporeans own their homes and keeping housing affordable for future generations."

    For instance, home owners who sold and then rented HDB flats can get government help to own a home again, under the Fresh Start Housing Scheme. More public rental flats will also be built.

    MND will also look at how to support other vulnerable groups, such as divorcees and low-income singles.

    There will be more shared spaces for people, like town plazas. And to encourage different generations to bond, the ministry will look into siting childcare and eldercare centres together.

    Also on the agenda: More parks, boosting construction productivity, rejuvenating older estates and helping local farms.

    The Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) also announced plans to transform the urban landscape yesterday.

    To improve the living environment, it will tighten standards for vehicular and industrial emissions to reduce air pollution levels.

    Food hygiene regulations will be made stricter too.

    Up for review are Singapore's Water Master Plan, to secure Singapore's water supply for the future, and the role of hawker centres.

    In addition, the ministry will help industries go green and be more energy-efficient.

    The push for energy efficiency is to meet Singapore's international climate change commitments, following its adoption last December of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.