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Aware calls for more inclusive housing policies for single parents

SINGAPORE — The Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware) has renewed its calls for more support for single unwed parents, particularly in the area of housing.

Aware calls for more inclusive housing policies for single parents

Mei Ling Street rental flats. TODAY file photo

SINGAPORE — The Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware) has renewed its calls for more support for single unwed parents, particularly in the area of housing.

It has drawn up 16 recommendations to improve the ability of single parents and their children to have secure and affordable housing, among them raising the S$1,500 income cap for rental housing; lifting debarment periods for rental housing and Housing and Development Board (HDB) flat purchases; and allowing unmarried mothers to considered as a family nucleus with their child when applying for HDB housing.

These recommendations were drawn up after Aware interviewed 55 women, almost all of whom (95 per cent) faced public housing problems. The women are unmarried, divorced, widowed or have spouses in prison.

The top three challenges are unclear information on polices available from HDB officers; inability to access public housing even with the help from the Members of Parliament (MP); and salaries exceeding the income cap for rental housing.

Many interviewees also reported overcrowding and tension in relatives’ homes, and frustration with the poorly explained and uncertain processes, like having to fill out multiple applications or appeals to MPs, causing their families to experience stress and financial pressure.

One interviewee, Uma (not her real name), a divorced mother of four who has struggled with the HDB rental and purchase application processes, said: “As long as you don’t meet the criteria or you fall short of one category, you are rejected. (Once rejected) you have to repeat the whole process again.”

Aware said housing is a basic need which all citizens should have access to, as lack of housing stability can lead to social problems such as poverty, poor academic performances, and adverse health outcomes.

“Everyone needs decent and stable housing, regardless of marital status or family structure, and single-parent families are growing in number… Access to housing has a strong impact on family life and intergenerational social mobility,” said Ms Jolene Tan, Aware’s head of advocacy and research.

Last year, Aware launched an initiative #asinglelove to advocate on behalf of single parents.

Thanking Aware for its latest recommendations, the Ministry of National Development said it will take the findings into considerations as it reviews it policies.

Its spokesman also said: “We recognise that our policies may not address every circumstance. Therefore, on a case-by-case basis, we do exercise flexibility to help single parents, including single unwed parents, with their housing needs.”

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