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Review of housing options for the elderly


Review of Housing Options for The Elderly

As announced by the Prime Minister on 28 August 2005, HDB has reviewed and fine-tuned its housing policies to help elderly Singaporeans meet their housing and retirement needs. The changes are in three areas:
(a) encouraging the elderly to live with their family
(b) facilitating the elderly to buy studio apartments
(c) upgrading more HDB rental flats with elderly-friendly features
Currently, extended families buying new flats directly from HDB enjoy a higher monthly household income ceiling of $12,000, compared to $8,000 for nuclear families.
To encourage extended family living, HDB will extend the $12,000 monthly income ceiling to extended families buying resale HDB flats with the CPF Housing Grant. The revised policy will apply with immediate effect. The cut off date for submission of resale applications is at Annex A.
HDB launched the Studio Apartment (SA) scheme in 1998 to provide a housing option for the elderly who wish to maintain their independence while living near their children and friends.
The scheme allows HDB flat lessees and private property owners who are at least 55 years old to sell their existing properties and buy SAs at affordable prices and to use the balance of the sales proceeds for their retirement needs. SAs are specially designed with elderly-friendly features.
There is also a Neighbourhood Link run by a Voluntary Welfare Organisation (VWO), which provides social and communal facilities and services to the elderly residents.
The SA scheme has been well received. All the SA units in the pilot project were taken up. HDB¡¯s survey of SA owners conducted in 2002 showed that 95% of them were satisfied with their living environment.
HDB's latest offer of integrated SAs in the Oct 2004 Balloting Exercise was also fully subscribed.
Going forward, new SAs will be included as part of HDB's building plan and offered for sale under the Build-To-Order system. This will provide another affordable housing option for elderly Singaporeans.
Revised Conditions for Purchase of SA
To further enhance the attractiveness and affordability of SAs, HDB will revise the conditions for the purchase of SAs as follows:
(a) Removal of Medisave top-up requirement
SA buyers have to currently top-up their Medisave account to the prevailing limit. The requirement was first introduced to ensure that the elderly have adequate funds to meet their healthcare needs.
However, given that CPF members already need to contribute to their Medisave accounts, MND has decided to remove the Medisave top-up requirement for SA buyers. With the revision, SA buyers, like other HDB flat buyers, will no longer need to top-up their Medisave account.
(b) Removal of 20% premium
The 20% premium on the purchase price of SAs was imposed on SA buyers who have enjoyed two or more housing subsidies because such buyers would normally not be allowed to buy another flat from HDB. This was to better manage demand for the SAs in the pilot project. With SAs now incorporated as part of HDB's building plan, the 20% premium will be removed.
(c) Removal of requirement for non-property owners to include children
Previously, elderly non-property owners living with their children were required to include at least one of their children in their application to buy SA. This was to encourage continued mutual care and support of the elderly in the SA unit. HDB will now remove this condition, thus allowing the elderly to decide on their own living arrangement.
(d) Allow use of CPF for purchase of SAs
To facilitate the elderly to buy SAs, buyers aged at least 55 years will now be able to use their CPF to buy SAs after they have set aside at least the full cash component of their Minimum Sum.
The SA would then be pledged for the amount of CPF used, up to the maximum pledge allowed under the Minimum Sum Scheme.
These revised conditions will take immediate effect. The cut-off date will be based on the date of booking of the SA.

Source: Press Release 29 Aug 2005


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30 August 2005