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    Dec 27, 2013

    Parenthood scheme helps 10,000 couples

    BY NEXT month, almost 10,000 couples will have benefited from a Housing Board scheme which gives priority to parents.

    Under another scheme, nearly 800 families with children have been able to rent HDB units while waiting for their new flats.

    National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan revealed these figures in a blog post yesterday that discussed three policies aimed at helping young couples.

    First, the backlog of first-time buyers has been "largely cleared" after three years of increased supply of Build-To-Order (BTO) flats. The HDB will thus launch fewer three-room, four-room and five-room flats next year, but build more two-room flats for singles.

    Second, there is the Parenthood Priority Scheme (PPS), which sets aside 30 per cent of BTO flats and 50 per cent of balance flats for married couples who have a citizen child aged below 16, or are expecting a child.

    It was launched in January this year and, by next month, it will have benefited almost 10,000 couples, said Mr Khaw.

    Third, other families have been helped by the Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme, which gives families the option of renting an HDB flat while waiting for their new flat.

    When launched in January, it was open only to first-timer married couples with children.

    By September, only 327 couples had applied for the 1,150 flats on offer. In the same month, the scheme was extended to divorced and widowed parents, as well as couples comprising one first-timer and one second-timer.

    Now, almost 800 flats have been taken up. Some units still lie vacant, but that "is a bit of a happy problem", said SLP International Property Consultants head of research Nicholas Mak.

    As Mr Khaw observed: "I am glad the new policies are showing results." The changes were necessary, he added, because young couples today get married and start a family only after they get a home.

    "In my generation, most went through this sequence: get married, rent a home, have a baby or more, buy a home. I did," shared Mr Khaw, who is an MP for Sembawang GRC. "But my young Sembawang activists taught me that such a sequence was outdated."

    The updated policies have been well received. Mr Chang Tay Chiang thinks the PPS scheme may have helped his successful application for a BTO five-room flat in Woodlands in July. The 43-year-old IT manager has three children, aged 11 to 17. "A couple of our friends applied (for the same BTO) but could not get it," he said, noting that they did not have children.