MP Louis Ng petitions for single parents to get equal public housing rights

MP Louis Ng petitions for single parents to get equal public housing rights
A survey carried out in February found 95 per cent of single mothers seeking public housing faced problems. Mr Ng’s petition calls for laws to be changed so they will be allowed to buy HDB properties. Photo: Najeer Yusof
Published: 4:00 AM, September 12, 2017

SINGAPORE — Member of Parliament (Nee Soon GRC) Louis Ng submitted a petition to the Government yesterday for more inclusive provision of public housing for single parents.

The petition called for amendments to sections 47 and 65 of the Housing and Development Act so that people with legal custody of a child will not be restricted from purchasing a Housing and Development Board (HDB) flat, regardless of their marital status.

Mr Ng made a passionate plea for single-parent families to be equally supported in this “basic need” and not to be “discriminated against” in Parliament yesterday.

“As a parent to three young ones, I cannot imagine going through my parenthood journey alone and I can appreciate how difficult it must be for single parents,” he said.

In February this year, a study by the Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware) involving 55 single mothers found that 95 per cent of those who sought public housing faced problems. The women were unmarried, divorced, widowed or had spouses in prison.

Among its recommendations, Aware called for changes like raising the S$1,500 income cap for rental housing; lifting debarment periods for rental housing and HDB flat purchases; and allowing unmarried mothers to be considered as a family nucleus with their child when applying for public housing. Mr Ng’s petition has been signed by seven single parents.

Responding in a joint statement, the Ministry of National Development and Ministry of Social and Family Development said Singapore’s public housing policies aim to address the needs of Singaporean citizen households without having to undermine “self-reliance and family support”.

They said each case is unique and should be evaluated “holistically”, and flexibility exercised to help various households with their housing needs.

This includes helping single-parent households to buy a flat “within their means”, or providing rental housing for those with no other housing options or have no family support.

The HDB and social service agencies will also assist families facing difficulties in other ways, through counselling, financial assistance, employment support, and advice on their housing options.

“As a party to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), Singapore remains committed to making Singapore a great place for children and families to thrive and grow in, thereby empowering our children to achieve their full potential,” said the ministries.

“Achieving this, especially for vulnerable families, is an ongoing effort.”