People who are not heterosexual couples wanting to start a family are being left behind in Singapore’s government housing market.
Since its independence in 1965 the ruling People’s Action Party prioritized creating low-cost housing for its citizens. Singapore’s Housing Development Board (HDB) is responsible for all aspects of public housing.
An Asia Times report revealed more than 80% of Singapore’s citizens live in government housing. 90% of those people own their flats.
But the country has placed strict restrictions on who is able to buy a a new Build-To-Order (BTO) flat. Heterosexual Singaporean couples or families are given priority to the BTO flats which falls in line with the ‘pro-family’ agenda. As the population ages and the birth-rate stays very low, the Singapore government is encouraging families to have more children.
‘The policies on public housing are designed to give a special advantage to couples who have a family or are looking to start a family, by making it more affordable to get their first home,’ said Tan Poh Lin, assistant professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy told Asia Times.
How do you afford housing if you’re not straight or coupled-up?
But many Singaporeans are left out of the affordable housing market in a country where real estate is prohibitively expensive.
Single people are not allowed to apply for a BTO flat until they are 35-years-old. A majority of single mothers have had problems trying to access housing.
LGBTI people also fare badly when it comes to accessing government housing.
‘For LGBT individuals, especially transgender young persons who may have been rejected or disowned by their families because of their inability to accept their child’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity, current HDB policies also make it difficult for them to access public housing,’ said Leow Yangfa, executive director of LGBT-friendly counselling and personal development organization Oogachaga.
‘Statistics show an increasing trend towards single-person households, later marriages, fewer children, marriages where there are no children, families with children led by same-sex couples,’ he said.
‘All this should force the HDB to update its policies to keep up with social realities.’