Dr. Cheong Koon Hean
Chief Executive Officer
In our quest to provide the best home for Singaporeans, HDB continued to seek out new ideas to make our towns a better place to live in, and to bring home ownership within reach of more Singaporeans.
Shaping the Best Living Environment
Guided by our Roadmap to Better Living, we continued to reimagine our towns and embrace game-changing innovations and urban solutions that redefine the way we plan, design and build our towns so that they remain highly liveable, sustainable and resilient.
The launch of the first housing parcel in Tengah’s Plantation District marked a new milestone in our plans to bring green and smart living to Singaporeans. The first of 5 housing districts in our youngest town, the district is envisioned as the home of community farming and planned with smart technologies from the outset. When fully completed, it will be home to some 10,000 families.
In Punggol, we broke new ground with the opening of Oasis Terraces – the first of 6 new-generation neighbourhood centres that brings together a host of facilities and communal spaces tailored to the needs of residents in the area. A pioneer in more ways than one, the centre is also the first to be built with smart and sustainable features throughout, including motion-sensor lighting and sensor-activated fans, rooftop solar panels, a rainwater harvesting system that treats surface water runoff, and a sensor-triggered irrigation system to manage the distribution of water to designated planting zones.
Every one of our HDB towns is designed to be unique, with its own distinct character and features that reflect its history and vision. To unify future developments as the towns evolve, we will be introducing dedicated Town Design Guides for each of our 24 towns. Chronicling the towns’ history, vision and distinct character, these guides will help preserve their identity and ensure residents can continue to live in a town they cherish. The first of such guides was launched for Woodlands during the Financial Year (FY).
Leveraging our experience as a leader in precast technology, HDB continued to make strides in construction technology. Our wider deployment of innovative construction materials and methods, such as the Prefabricated Bathroom Unit (PBU) and Prefabricated Prefinished Volumetric Construction (PPVC), saw HDB attaining an overall construction productivity level of 17.8%, up from 14.8% in the previous FY. Together with ongoing initiatives such as the use of laminated uPVC doors and vinyl strip flooring, these have enabled us to build better homes faster, and achieve higher levels of productivity. We will continue to invest in technology to push the boundaries further.
Fulfilling Home Ownership Aspirations
This FY, we launched about 15,300 Build-To-Order (BTO) flats across mature and non-mature towns, providing an affordable and comprehensive range of housing options to meet the diverse needs and aspirations of Singaporeans.
A suite of measures was also implemented to help young couples plan ahead and buy their first home earlier. These include announcing upcoming BTO projects 6 months ahead of their launch, instead of 3 months previously, and shortening the balloting time for BTO flats from 6 to 3 weeks. For young couples ready to settle down but have yet to meet the necessary period of employment to qualify for housing grants and loans, we have since May 2018, allowed them to apply for a flat first and defer the income assessment till just before key collection. Construction also commenced ahead of the sales launch for selected BTO projects so that waiting time would be shortened to about 2 to 3 years, down from 3 to 4 years. During the FY, some 1,100 flats with shorter waiting time were launched for sale, enabling young couples to own their dream homes sooner.
We also lent more support to lower-income families as well as those navigating life changes. To give lower-income Singaporeans a leg up in their home ownership journey, we will set up a Home ownership Support Team (HST) to provide added support to rental tenants, especially families with children, who are ready to buy a flat. The team will guide and advise them on the flat-buying process, their financing options, and the available schemes and grants.
Divorcing couples also received more help with their housing transition; they can now apply for a new flat once they have obtained an Interim Judgement of divorce. The Final Judgement of divorce should be obtained before they collect the keys to their new flat. In addition, seniors looking to monetise their flats for their retirement needs now have more options, with the extension of the Lease Buyback Scheme (LBS) to all flat types, beyond just 4-room and smaller flats.
Even as we bring exciting and innovative living concepts to Singaporeans, it is our residents who hold the key to town vibrancy and their active participation is sought in many ways.
Our Friends of Our Heartlands network continued to grow from strength to strength as we opened up more volunteering opportunities for residents to deepen their involvement and capabilities. To date, the network has amassed an active volunteer base of more than 3,300 residents, each contributing in their own special way towards improving their living environment and creating friendly and lively neighbourhoods.
Building Homes of Tomorrow
From planning and design of towns to community engagement and service delivery, HDB has focused on bringing the highest possible standards to all that we do. Winning the prestigious Singapore Quality Award (SQA) with Special Commendation this year is wonderful affirmation of the path we have chosen to take towards being a nimble and agile organisation that is responsive to change.
The years ahead will be exciting and challenging as HDB approaches new frontiers in designing and building homes for future generations. There is more to be done to make our towns even more liveable and sustainable, and we will continue to push ourselves to go beyond the status quo as we strive to make every town and precinct better than the one before.
New home buyers can look forward to refreshing housing concepts, while residents in existing estates can expect rejuvenation and renewal of their homes. Together with our partners and the community, we will shape the best living environment so generations of Singaporeans to come can find an HDB home that is just right for them.