The Independent

Home ownership: Shelter or burden

When it comes to home ownership there really are few options for those who need it the most: the very needy.

Inflexible rules and regulations, tight financing and still tighter definitions of what constitutes a family unit, lie at never-ending recurring cycle of getting homes for of the some multitudes living with us.
Is the destitute among us a ‘persecuted’ lot?

Whatever the classifications maybe, there is quite a substantial number among us, who cannot afford a roof over their heads and many reside in some of the bowels of Hougang, Ang M Kio, Serangoon Road etc.

In the by-election in Bukit Batok last year, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam revealed that there were some 50,000 people in Singapore who earned less than $1,000 a month. With such a measly income we are only left to wonder how these people ever subsist or make ends meet? Do they really have a life left after what that token $1,000?

As with elsewhere in the world young homeowners are becoming a vanishing breed. Full home ownership with all mortgages paid for, is something of a rarity in Singapore. No figures were immediately available but just by the readings of anecdotal findings there are not many who can with some equanimity of mind say that all the heavy lifting from home ownership is over and done with. Perhaps, it is only home ownership among pensioners that appears to be still on an upwards trajectory.

But The Independent’s drift is not about the young and upwardly mobile struggling to own a home. They eventually will, except that many are swaying in the headwinds of change wrought on by technological disruptions and job re-classifications. That has had a rocking and chilling effect in their efforts to get what they want.

But what is really at issue here, is the poor and simply displaced and dislocated. The government’s Fresh Start Housing Scheme is an encouraging move.

Having a secure home is always a major challenge, not just for the poor and marginalized but just as importantly, for everyone.

What could be reviewed is the traditional policy of only allowing for one and two-room rental flats regardless of family size for the poor and needy.