After many years of renting a flat from HDB, Mr Lee finally felt ready to buy one of his own with his wife and young child. He had started his own business after working hard in various odd jobs. “He said that another family might need the rental flat more urgently than them,” Estate Manager Tan Shimin recalls. “His never-give-up spirit and consideration for the needs of others touched me deeply.”

The family is now a step closer to achieving their home ownership dreams, as Shimin has been working hand-in-hand with them on their housing budget and flat options, and helping them to navigate the processes involved, from application to key collection.

Dedicated and Holistic Support

Shimin is a member of the Home ownership Support Team (HST), formed in 2019 to help rental households progress towards home ownership. HDB recognised that offering personalised support and a human touch can make a big difference to these families.

“People enter rental housing for various reasons, such as financial difficulties due to loss of employment, or unexpected life events like divorce or the sudden loss of a family member,” Shimin says.

As each family's circumstances are unique, HST officers seek to identify the targeted help they need, and work closely with partners such as the Ministry of Social and Family Development, Ministry of Manpower, Community Link, and Family Service Centres, to offer solutions.

“If we don't address the fundamental issues, these problems might persist even after the family moves into their own flat,” Shimin explains.

A Personal Connection

She understands the challenges all too well, having personally walked the journey from living in a rental flat in Circuit Road to achieving home ownership. “The rental flat was a safe space where my family could be together under one roof. Before that, I was staying apart from them and moving from place to place,” she reminisces.

Shimin was a temporary staff at HDB during the time that her family decided to take the leap into home ownership, and they received valuable advice on how to do so from her colleagues at Tampines Branch. She describes the moment that her family first stepped into their own home, as surreal.

“My mother simply said ‘Finally, we have our own flat’, but I understood the magnitude of her words and how much hard work it took for us to get there,” she recalls.

Achieving home ownership represented a new beginning for Shimin and her family, something she hopes for the rental households she helps as well.

“I have met many amazing rental tenants in the course of my work. They are resilient and undefeated by their challenges in life. Instead, they persevere to resolve them, such as working hard to rebuild their finances,” Shimin shares.

“Having a place to call their own can give them a fresh start and uplift their lives. A home also represents hope. The HST will do all we can to help them achieve this,” she smiles.

Over the next few years, the HST aims to reach out to 1,000 rental households.