Fifty years ago, in February 1964, the Home Ownership for the People Scheme was launched to encourage Singaporeans to take the first sure steps towards affordable home ownership. As with most beginnings, the scheme had a slow start. People were unsure of how it would benefit them. But with the launch of the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Public Housing Scheme in September 1968, which allowed funds from CPF to be used for downpayments and monthly repayments on an HDB flat, as well as a subsequent slew of liberalisation measures, it made better sense to buy, rather than rent an HDB flat.
Before long – in fact by 1970 – more than 20,000 had applied to buy HDB flats and the number of flat buyers soon exceeded those who wanted to rent. Today, about 80% of Singapore’s resident population live in HDB flats, and about 90% of these resident households own their HDB flat – amongst the highest ownership rates in the world.
While the policies have made home ownership a viable option, the greater draw is the improvement to their lives that HDB flat owners could see and experience for themselves. Ownership meant that they are now an asset-owning class, with a stake in the nation’s prosperity.
Ownership of an HDB flat has also given Singaporeans a physical as well as an emotional anchor, deepening their sense of rootedness to home and country. The push for home ownership was an important factor in nation building 50 years ago, and remains equally vital today.
Generations of Singaporeans can relate to the soaring HDB blocks that define the Singapore skyline. These HDB towns and flats spell heartwarming homes for the majority of them, with the common experience of HDB living the unifying arc.
This Annual Report takes you down memory lane through the reminiscences of our residents and HDB staff. We hope their sharings will help jog into memory some of your own sweet recollections.