Jan 24, 2007

Would ANYONE Be Homeless By Choice?

Let's imagine that once upon a time, life was good in Singapore. You were lowly-educated, but you had a job, a small but steady income. You bought a flat from HDB (quite cheaply too) and you could afford the mortgage payments.

15 years later, you fell on hard times. You lost your job. Your savings ran out. You begged and borrowed. Finally you sold your flat, took the money and repaid the loan sharks, and you stayed with relatives.

You kept on looking for jobs, but except for the occasional odd job as a cleaner or dishwasher, you failed - you became just another one of those "structurally unemployable" Singaporeans. Finally, you couldn't even get the cleaner/dishwasher job anymore, because the foreign workers from Bangladesh beat you to it.

Another year passed, and then your relatives kicked you out. They said that they couldn't go on feeding you forever. They aren't rich themselves. So you decided to rent a one-room HDB flat.

But you got rejected.

The reason? Some technical rule that you didn't even know existed. You had bought a flat directly from the HDB flat 15 years ago, and then you'd sold it - therefore you cannot rent any flat from the HDB anymore. You've been disqualified.

So you start living in a void deck. You're homeless now.

To add insult to injury, the government says that actually, you prefer to be homeless.

    ST Jan 24, 2007
    Are some here homeless by choice?
    Govt says even with 3 options available, some prefer to be homeless. Not always the case, say MPs
    By Peh Shing Huei

    EVERY now and then, the media reports on cases of Singaporeans who live in void decks, or on the beach.

    Yesterday, their plight was raised in Parliament, with different views on how they came to be homeless.

    They are sometimes 'homeless by choice', said Parliamentary Secretary (National Development) Mohd Maliki Osman.

    But four MPs rose to their feet to argue that some people were forced out of their homes and had no choice but to sleep in void decks.

    The debate arose from a question filed by Dr Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim (Marine Parade GRC).
    Referring to two homeless cases cited by Dr Faishal which were featured in Malay-language newspaper Berita Harian in November and last month, Dr Maliki said that in both cases, the people were 'homeless by choice rather than due to circumstances beyond their control'.

    The first person, said Dr Maliki, made substantial profits through the sale of two subsidised flats. When he applied for a subsidised Housing Board rental flat, he was rejected because he could not meet the eligibility conditions.

    The second person, added Dr Maliki, defaulted on the mortgage payments on his flat, which he had purchased from the open market with a housing grant.

    When the bank repossessed his flat, he applied to HDB for a subsidised rental flat, but was also rejected because he could not meet the eligibility conditions.

    HDB advised him to consider buying a smaller flat or to live with his siblings, or to stay at temporary shelters run by volunteer organisations, but he declined all these suggestions.

    Dr Maliki highlighted three options for families who have trouble finding a roof over their heads: subsidised rental flats, open-market rental flats, and living with extended families.

    Mr Inderjit Singh (Ang Mo Kio GRC) asked: 'Does the Parliamentary Secretary realise that there are also many cases of residents who are in negative equity and, as a result of that, the banks are forcing a sale and therefore they actually don't have excess cash to help them rent a flat, buy a flat?

    'And that these cases are increasing because of the policy change of allowing banks to handle HDB mortgages?'

    Families planning to take up a bank loan should understand the implications of taking on this responsibility, said Dr Maliki.
This government won't rent a public flat to a citizen, but it WILL sell a public flat to a non-citizen. Wonderful, isn't it.

51 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh..oh.., how ironical and cynical the whole mindset of the government is, as so subtlely or rather obviously exemplified in this case.

And mind you, the statement was, I presume, spoken with as straight a face and as clear a heart in them that has no qualm bout "betraying" the basic trust of all citizens who laboured, sacrificed and placed their hope, belief and trust in them by according them the honor of leadership and governance!

Wonderfully-high and "transparently-superb" is such a standard of caring leadership and legacy-leaving nationhood building, isn't it?

Those who agree, please voice out ..

Anonymous said...

Pretty sad that this phenemenon happens today when many decades ago, especially during the aftermath of the Bukit Ho Swee fire in 1961, the government of a newly independent nation strove to give every one in Singapore a home to stay. That was drive behind HDB's success.

In fact, for past 10 yrs or so, there has not be much any major construction of new HDB estates, only upgrading of old blocks (except in opposition wards), and private construction of more condos. Some of my friends, and even newspaper reports say that there is actually a surplus of HDB flats around S'pore because the population isn't rising that fast anymore. Furthermore, the govt even announced recently that they are building new apartments for thousands of foreign workers coming in during the next few years to construct the Sentosa IR.

So I believe if the govt really cares of these senior citizens who sweated for Singapore success, they are surely able to do something than just stick rigidly and uncompassionately to the rules. Only then we will truely have the confidence to stay in Singapore till we're old and not leave the country after we obtained the financial means to do so.

Concerned post-65er.

Anonymous said...

i agree with anon 4:47 that this totally exemplifies the gahmen's mindset. note the three options:

subsidized rental = akin to gahmen aid tied to string of conditions including ability to forecast your own future circumstances

market rental = this is "In-a-free-market-you-need-to-survive-on-your-own-means" mentality

dependent on relatives = stress self-help at familial level (i bet if they could, they would pass a law mandating individuals to extend assistance to their extended families, just like the parents bill)

LOL...LOL...LOL

Anonymous said...

Interesting. PRs can buy a new flat direct from the HDB whereas single citizens cannot.

So what happened to the promise that citizens will be treated better or a priority?

Anonymous said...

Amazing. How creative can they be? Telling the poor to be poorer first before they will help in a small way. How's the hell are we still standing here?

amatu said...

I dont understand why is the MP behaving in such a manner. How does he benefit from it?

And also, why is the government so anti-welfare? In Brunei, the wealth of the sultan is abundance that benefits are provided to bruneians. Singapore is second richest country in asia after japan, if im not wrong, so cant our government help the poor? I do not have the statistic of the poor in sg but is the figure so high that assistance is impossible?

Im not against the rich but i think the poor needs help in times of need.

Molly said...

Perhaps this is what they mean by financial irresponsibility.

Anonymous said...

They are trying to be responsible by not giving out any money anyhow here because they do not know how much money they have in the banks. So when someone asked where is the money, the answer was not clear or was it that it will take years to calculate.

YCK said...

Correct me if I am mistaken, was it not Dr Mohd Maliki Osman who weighed in on the elitism issue on the non-populist side?

Anonymous said...

Look pple, instead of castigating the Govt why don't all of u pitch in to help the homeless? Get your hands dirty and your wallets lighter for a change instead of just pointing out what u think is wrong, doing sweet F.A. to right the perceived wrong. And don't start telling me that it's the Govt's job to help the homeless... let those who have alredi done something for the homeless be the ones to cast the first stone..

stoned said...

Anonymous January 24, 2007 9:15 PM

Whoa, hold that horse. Before you throw that moral dagger, please remember that the government is paid by taxpayers to do their job, just like your employer pays you to do yours.

Now, try telling your boss about those stones the next time he expresses dissatisfaction with your work.

No wonder some foreigner recently said Singaporeans lack critical thinking skills.

kf said...

OF cos anonymous!!

Oh how foolish and silly can I be! It is my prerogative to help the homeless! Working class people like me have the power to help poor people! Our dear government should focus on getting our country rich and wealthy instead. We shouldn't be wasting their precious effort and money on doing dirty welfare!

I am now so ashamed to become this typical Singaporean whiner that some MPs were complaining about the other day! I must be more proactive than than the government!

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

To Anon 9:15pm of June 24:

Credit to Mr.Wang and all those who pitch in with their "sarcastic" critique on the topic, merely to highlight and stir the leaders to the realisation on why and what in the first place, they present themselves for higher office for...i.e, to safeguard,lead and care for the interest of the people, and not just for their own career interest by seeking to please their ego or superiors alone. Wouldn't you agree that there's truthful elements in all these sarcastic critique on some of these track records?

BTW,I do agree with you that all of us at our own individual level should seek and help the homeless who come across our path. In one sense, the "sarcastic critique" from all who pitch in now against this ridiculous remark on "homeless by choice in the light of HDB policy" is the individual way to help the forced-to-be-homeless people by voicing their plights. Hopefully, our voice counts together with your call to soil our hands and help the homeless!

Anonymous said...

The right to spend the public reserves or lose them in risky ventures belongs exclusively to the MIW, their associates & cronies. If only the massive Shin Corp losses & extravagant Durai's excesses had instead been used to :-

- provide relief for the desperate ones so that they don't have to jump off the MRT tracks
- provide some form of monthly allowances to those senior citizens so that they dont' have to hunt for discarded cardboards & cans
- offset the ever increasing GST, bus fares, hospital & medical expenses
- upgrade the constituencies in Hougang & Potong Pasir
- etc, etc, ......

wouldn't Singapore be a much better place to live in.
Just wishful thinking on my part.


-

coo1J4m said...

I have the same thoughts but different scenario to your topic. The past few mths i have been seeing quite a number of mentally unsounds adults running ard neighbourhood areas. Kids selling newpapers or stuff in kopishop at ard 11pm plus close to 12 midnite during during sch mths(including today!!). Its a worrying sight to me, not becos these plp are unsound or selling stuff without a license. yet it stuck me with doubts on the welfare n care system the govt is providing to under-privilage Sgporeans in our society and in other words i pity n feel for them. Its common n relieving to hear on the media that the govt are constantly giving packages n welfare to the unfortunate, yet it remains a question mark to how many of our under-privilaged countryman have benefitted from these welfare packages???
Sooner or later we will hear abt the GST package to lower income families from PM Lee, i am starting to lose faith in such policies. Hopefully i am wrong :-(

Anonymous said...

Sigh! After reading that, I still couldn't believe what kind of monsters are being voted into the house by the 666.

It's the same uncaring elite face and their mindset that anyone who could not make it must be by their own fault.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, most belong to the disillusioned middle class who wont give a hoot about anything.

Anonymous said...

The Whinger

Love thy Nanny,
Keep Her not away.
Love thy Nanny,
Pray that She doesn’t stray.
‘I still love thee, Nanny,
‘Why do you not clear the disarray?
‘When you said you’ll love me forever
‘To give me help, comfort, and a breather
‘Why do you leave me now, when I’m now older?’


Parsimonia

Anonymous said...

I am really curious whether it'll be higher or lower than 66.6% if all Singaporeans are allowed to vote.

Not all citizens are free to vote. Only the chosen ones get to do so. Sometimes I think it is ridiculous that we are called a democracy. There should be some kind of UN convention to protect the voting rights of citizens of member countries from control freaks that make freak elections a reality.

Anonymous said...

it is the same 'rules'again! Another peeve is when a C ward patient has suspected colon cancer but has to wait 3 months for a scope because his is not an urgent case. Really? A suspected colon cancer is not urgent from whose point of view? Again a set of rules that only the rich people not in C ward can appreciate.

Anonymous said...

"Some technical rule that you didn't even know existed. You had bought a flat directly from the HDB flat 15 years ago, and then you'd sold it - therefore you cannot rent any flat from the HDB anymore. You've been disqualified."

If you read the rules carefully, you are allowed to rent from the HDB if you've only sold 1 flat that was bought directly from them, but under the category of Second Timer.

If you remember how heavily subsidised HDB flats are 15 years ago, and how much profits were pocketed when it was sold, you might sign a different tune.

As a taxpaper, why should I have to continue subsidising for irresponsible people?

A one-room rental of between $90-123 is not very expensive, even if the person has to lower his salary expectations so that the Blangadeshis do not steal his job.

Anonymous said...

This time round, I do agree to a certain extent with the government. I think those who have made money out of subsidies for HDB flats should not complain at all. Those who were greedy over-committing themselves should also blame themselves for their greed and not expect the government to bail them out.

Otherwise, it is tipping the scales even further at the expense of citizens who did not have a chance to take advantage of those perks.

Having said that, I saw yet again another beggar lying face down, with amputated arms and legs outside the Tampines MRT station yesterday night. It is ironical that the one responsible for public housing is also the MP for Tampines.

And yes, there were people who donated. But what is the government doing about these unfortunate ones?

Exit of an nth-class single citizen said...

Anon at January 24, 2007 6:19 PM wrote: "PRs can buy a new flat direct from the HDB whereas single citizens cannot".

Yes, to add salt to injury, the MSM published in big headlines that "Singles can buy flats directly from HDB"... but without the T&Cs printed in the news reports. The fine-print in HDB website was non-citizen singles may form a family unit with another family member (non-citizen parents/siblings/spouse) to buy a flat directly from HDB.

Over the last 2 years there were some really nice choice units in town available to the above category of "singles". My friends/family who read only the MSM reports but not the HDB T&C fine-print thought I was just being silly to buy from the resale market. I had to keep repeating the actual rules to them.

Anyway, forget it! I'm outta here in some years. It's worse than being 2nd class citizen in Singapore when you're single... you're actually last in the queue. The govt, of course, may someday quote that "those who were single by-choice only had themselves to blame for being irresponsible in choosing not to marry and procreate for the nation"... and so they deserve to live in the streets? Shipped overseas to 3rd world country for retirement?

Well, by then, guess I can celebrate that this white team is no longer my govt.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:18,Jan 25.

You are counting beans in explaining away that why you, as a responsible taxpayer, should see no reason to empathize with those deserving homeless people who are irresponsible and manipulative to squander away their calculated gain, figuratively speaking.

I am sorry to dig you in on this and now, may I elaborate why you're so counting beans...!

What Mr. WangSaySo refers to 15 years, he had earlier stated that "lets imagine...". With this, it is clearly meant to be a story or a parable and surely, you need not count beans as to pick on that "15" years. The same story, on the ludicrous situation of already-totally-end-of-the-road singaporean who having failed to rent from HDB (disallowed because of rules,whatever they may be!) and hence forced (mind you not by HDB ok, to be fair) to be homeless, can also be equally illustrated with a story that starts 5 or 7 years or perhaps even 2 years ago.

The point is such cases do happen with HDB barring renting due to rules on one hand, and on
the other hand ,not barred by rules, public-funded housing and accomodations are either made available or built for legal foreign workers. Illegal foreigner workers would "rightly" not have their interest taken care,i.e no housing! Do yo see now why most of the empathizing commentators to this column all indicated this state of affair as wonderfully ludicrous!

It's the spirit and the message behind this column rather than its bolts and nuts that matters. Incidentally, owners who purchased resale HDB units about 13 years (after 1993) and took up the 30-50k HDB grant are also considered as the HDB first-timer and I dare say, some of these owners may still be in negative equity as far as their housing goes. Wonder if this will burst or debunk the two notions that (i)HDB first-timer is heavily subsidized and (ii) all hdb owners stand to have profitted from these "subsidies". I still stand amazed at the mindsets that some singaporean, like you, still could honestly buy into the arguments that HDB new flats have been heavily subsidized to the benefit of HDB lessees. As I end here, I realise I made a critical mistake above when I make reference to HDB flat-owner. Treated in bolt-n-nut or bean fashion, none of singaporean are HDB flat-owner but instead lessee only!

Mr Wang Says So said...

The problem is that some Singaporeans are easily deceived by what they read in the mass media. How easily tricked they are, by Maliki.

Okay lor. So YOU think you're "financially responsible"? Tomorrow you may lose your job - it may just fly away to China. You may be unable to find another for the next five years. Let's see whether your existing savings can still service your HDB mortgage in Year Six.

Then in Year Six, you'll sell your flat. You'll make a "profit". The money will go towards repaying the friends and relatives from whom you've been borrowing for the past two years, to feed your children.

In Year Seven, the money will be gone. You'll go to the HDB and ask to rent a little one-room flat. You'll be rejected. After all, you had "made a profit". Now go sleep in the void deck. Preferably in some hidden corner where you won't sully the neat, clean look of our public housing estates.

stillsingle said...

Anonymous January 26, 2007 12:07 AM

Exactly my sentiment. But no matter what, I will not get married for the sake of buying that flat direct from the HDB.

After being treated like scum, that will be another reason for singles to vote for opposition parties :D

Anonymous said...

They're running out of creative excuses. Few years ago they said jobless Singaporeans are "jobless by choice". Now they're shifting the blame once again by saying the homeless are "homeless by choice".

This Ma-lackey Assman can't even be original.

Swiss Standard of LEEving

Anonymous said...

Did anyone even bother to read the qualifications required to rent from the HDB ???

You ARE allowed to rent from the HDB even if you've both bought AND sold a flat bought directly from the HDB.

You simply qualify under the more expensive Second Timer.

Which although more expensive compared to First Timer is still cheap compared to renting from the open market.

Anonymous said...

My..my.. anon 10pm Jan 26 ...

I bring your attention to the two cases queried at parliament. Here, I quote:

"The first person, said Dr Maliki, made substantial profits through the sale of two subsidised flats. When he applied for a subsidised Housing Board rental flat, he was rejected because he could not meet the eligibility conditions.

The second person, added Dr Maliki, defaulted on the mortgage payments on his flat, which he had purchased from the open market with a housing grant. When the bank repossessed his flat, he applied to HDB for a subsidised rental flat, but was also rejected because he could not meet the eligibility conditions"

Wonder what had happened then that despite the stated qualifications
(http://www.hdb.gov.sg/__48257038002F46F1.nsf/0/21AA51D066A5DDA3482570970040BE8E?Open&Highlight=2,rental) they are still homeless ??? As you have so written, we could all certainly presume that these two persons must be able to qualify too what .., perhaps just need only to afford the "slightly" higher rental rate! The parliament statements are clear that at end of the day, they could not meet the HDB eligibility conditions, or in another cannot qualify. Could the reason be that they are criminal or non-lawful citizens at point of application ?? Eh,,eh, nobody knows about that.. Or..could it be they are "3rd-Timer or 4th-Timer" and hence cannot qualify and therefore they had instead chosen to be homeless?

Baffling..really baffling ...

Anonymous said...

if u can't qualify, there must be a reason given.

as of now, none of us are any wiser what those reasons are besides 'they don't qualify'

so don't go assuming it's because they had previously bought and sold a hdb flat

when we get all the facts, then it makes more sense to debate on the merits or lack of

Mr Wang Says So said...

Don't get distracted. Focus, please. Maliki is trying to distract you.

Would ANYONE choose to be homeless?

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang,

Yes, fully agree on your remarks except wouldn't be so certain about that coming from the only Maliki..! It could be from "blind-sighted" fellow singaporeans who had so chosen their views to be muddled even in the face of the clear records and messages staring at them!

Also, surmise that should there be more focus arising on this topic in coming days, there would be stories run in the media that depicts how right and inevitable the decision had to be and how wrong and deserving those two fellow singaporean souls ended up been homeless, by their own preference....If this guesswork turns out right, it further confirms that the same style goes again!

Anonymous said...

It seems that the problem with some Singaporeans is that they cannot imagine people being more unfortunate than they are. True some are financially irresponsible, but not all are, and to paint the same brush for everyone is merely more evidence of the culture of elitism that has pervaded Singapore like a cancerous rot.

Anonymous said...

To be logical, putting all the facts, arguements, excuses and whatever aside. I seriously think that even if it is the person's "fault" that he is now homeless. As a citizen, he does warrant more investigation into his matter. Rather than a brushing aside statement saying "Some are homeless are by choice"

Mmmmm last I remembered being homeless means.

1) No place to stay, hence having to sleep in the streets.
2) No toliet or bathing facilities
3) No place to store personal belongings.
4) No mailing address for any documentation or letters.

As for the statement that this people have earned profits from HDB sales.... errrr correct me if I am wrong, I think any sale of the flats, whatever profits go back into CPF right? You dont actually touch the money physically. So where are these people going to get the cash now that they are in financial dire straits? Their so called profits in actually being held by the government.

As some have said, the government's job is to look after its citizens and not have the citizens work and sacrifice to look after the government.

Dodo

Anonymous said...

I have the impression that anything let over from the sale of a flat except money from withdrawn from the CPF, loan and interest, associated fees, will be given back as cash to the seller.

Also, even if the profit is locked in CPF, it can be used to purchase a bigger flat. It is still money earned although some may argue we do not or may never see that money.

Anonymous said...

However I think there are cases of people that slipped through the welfare net or rather if there is a welfare net. End of the day this people have no cash to make ends meet and as the papers say have negative equity. Means they have debts, hence the govt can be a little more caring than callously saying "homeless by choice" Yeah by choice... No choice you mean.

Dodo

Mr Wang Says So said...

Is my post really so difficult to understand?

"Profit" means that you sold your flat for a higher price than you bought it for.

"Profit" doesn't mean that you can afford to buy a new place to stay - especially if you had bought your first flat many years ago. Basically the government no longer builds one-room, two-room & three-room flats.

"Profit" also doesn't mean that you don't have to use your money to feed your children; pay school fees; cover medical expenses; purchase food etc.

So if you have no job, your "profit" must inevitably run out, whether over the course of six months, one year or two, or three, or four.

And yes, certainly some Singaporeans have been employed for that long.

Mr Wang Says So said...

And surely you must read about those people last year, who DID own a flat but had nothing to eat? And could not afford electricity? And water? And collected food scraps from garbage heaps and so on?

Of course, one alternative is for them to sell their flat. Then they would be homeless. But they WOULD have money to buy food for some time.

Anonymous said...

There was a news on this homeless issue in ytd's Sunday times. A homeless guy chalked up debts to the HDB because he couldn't meet the monthly payments for ths flat and was evicted. But guess what? He is still being billed for conservancy charges! So his debts keep mounting. Quite ridiculous isn't it?rwu

Anonymous said...

I'm no longer singaporean so pardon if my comments are irrelevant.

I returned to Singapore recently for a short transit. I was very disappointed by what I saw.

Singapore is dirtier, noisier and most shopping malls look like one big pasar malam to me. It felt like a third world than a first world place to me despite the hype.

And reading about these homelessness, I feel even sadder. I even met a few salespersons who condemned the government after knowing that I was a "quitter".

The humanity index in this country is indeed very dismal if the MPs could take such a stand towards its people. What happened to second chances for everyone? Just because you had profitted once and had a good time, you can't expect to be helped when you are down?

It is sad when singaporeans regard each other with such calculative attitude.

zHuAz said...

Rules are made to suit the situation of the time. Rules made 5 years ago usually do not reflect or best fit the situation today.

Much less using rules made more than a decade ago. Speak about changing with the times, the Government is not even keeping up.

Anonymous said...

It seems like most of the rules, directives, etc from stat board such as HDB, IRAS, etc that had been made long long time ago are still the same as of today. They keep saying the need to change or review but the rules, directives, etc are just there and not changing or even being reviewed.

One such example to quote will be Parents Relief Claim when filing Income Tax:

One of the conditions that a son/daughter can claim for parent relief is that the parents' income must not exceed $2000 annually. In today's Singapore, I really do not know what kind of job yield such an income ($2000 annually)???

There are a lot more of example such as timing of free parking on Sunday or why free parking not being reviewed to both Sat and Sun since most companies and Government sector are on 5-days work week and Government encouraging on family bonding.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone actually get time to read what we sign at the HDB when we buy the flat?

Seriously, I never. All they tell me is "Sign here, and here, and here... "

I think all these things we sign should not be legally valid at all because we have no time to read.

Anonymous said...

I think every homeless case should be studied individually.

Have anyone watch "Pursuit of Happyness?"

In India, there are still some homeless beggars on the street. They are there because they probably get more as a beggar than try to get some jobs to do. And because there are some welfare organisation giving them food, so they camp outside these welfare organisations.

In Sydney, there are also homeless people in town. They sit around waiting for generous donations, at the end of the day, they spend the money to drink.

So should we help all these cases of homeless people? I do not agree, not helping at all, nor helping every cases. But on a case by case basis.

I guess that is the issue we need to address.

Joanne said...

Re: HDB Rental Scheme (Supply and Demand)

Date: 7th May 2007
After speaking to the HDB Rental Scheme hotline 1800 225 5432, I was informed that the queue for Rental Scheme is about registered 400 families/ people as of May 2007 (excluding those who are appealing because they are not directly eligible or not yet registered) and the wait is more than 6 or 9 months. There is obviously a lack of HDB subsidized rental flats for low-income/ poor family, and people are not on the streets yet probably credited to charity homes (Are they homeless shelters in Singapore?) or kind friends and relative that are willing to put them up. This scenario is extremely unacceptable, not in the affluent society Singapore is today whereby our politicians are drawing not only world-class salaries, but salaries higher than any other countries, even pro-welfare high-taxation Scandinavian countries.

Here is a little Q&A session while I was on the hotline:
Q: Are there any plans to provide and supply more rental flats in the future?
A: There is, but nothing is confirmed.
Q: So where do all the homeless people go?
A: They have to find alternative housing first.

Honestly speaking, there is no alternative housing in Singapore. If you go and rent a flat in the open market, the rental would handicap the low-income family. If you rent a room for a family, the open market rental is still high and room renting are not suited for families, but for singles.

The HDB rental flats under HDB Rental Scheme are the alternative housing for this group of low-income people! Instead of selling a few hundred flats monthly and bi-monthly to probably the same group of low-income people enquiring and queuing for HDB rental flats, who most probably will struggle critically when getting and eventually paying for their housing loan after flat purchase, why not reshuffle these flats on sales to provide for these approximately 400 over people desperately in need of a roof over their heads? Has HDB gotten their priorities confused? Have our sociology experts and scholars forgotten to inform the politicians and governmental workers that are serving the people that homeless people goes through tremendous traumas and depressions?

My parents, 57 and 61 years old, are on the verge of being homeless since their current 4-room flat is facing compulsory acquisition action from HDB. Both of them have contributed in labour, in taxes, and in spirit to build Singapore for more than 3 decades. Is this how our government intends to support our poor, elderly and senior population and citizens?

Joanne – bebebergenwall@gmail.com

Joanne said...

Re: Rental Scheme (Eligibility)

With regards to the rule that "Person who has bought 2 HDB flat directly from government is debarred from HDB's Rental Scheme":
Example to illustrate:
Q: If Dad has purchased flats directly from HDB twice (co-owner of flat 1, sole-owner of flat 2), and Mum has only purchase flat directly from HDB once (co-owner of flat 1, occupier of flat 2) - Is my Mum still eligible to apply for Rental Scheme (having my Dad as an occupier), taken into consideration that she and my Dad do qualify all other remaining requirements e.g. household income less than $1500 etc.?
A: No, since this ruling is applicable to not one but all the Rental Scheme tenants in the same household or family nucleus.

With regards to the rule that "Person who has sold HDB flat in the open market is debarred for 30 months from HDB's Rental Scheme":
Example to illustrate:
Under normal circumstances, flat downgraders would usually have sufficient funds to finance the purchase of a smaller flat or rent. This is however not true for all cases (due to financial hardship) and I wish to illustrate an exemplary Estimated Sales Proceed Calculation (in sgd):

Estimated Sale Proceeds for a 4-room = 240000
less
Outstanding HDB Loan = 224000
HDB Late Payment Fees = 6000
CPF utilized plus accrued interest that will be put into the respective Retirement Accounts [for wife (61 yrs old) and husband (55 yrs old)] = 13000
Property Agent's Commission = 4800
Legal Fees = 200
Others (e.g. overdue payments for income tax, property tax) = 700

Balance = -8700


Therefore, I would like to challenge that the above rigid rulings are unnecessary hurdles that poor/ needy people have to struggle against, on top of their personal hardships. The only suggestion I perceive is that HDB is trying to prevent families who have previously profited from sale of HDB flats in the open market to enter the Rental Scheme. It is not wrong but neither is it justifiable for all cases.

They are exception cases where people who are not eligible due to the two exemplary red-tapes above, who are homeless and have close to zero savings or incomes. These people in real dire strait hardships will have to follow up with appeals after appeals with no certainties. To make things worse – If these people are not educated/ lack education, they would have to wait from week to week to seek appeal writing aid from Meet-the-people Session that is only available every Monday from 8pm onwards.

My point is that there must be measures in HDB Rental Scheme system to aid people with real needs; even though they may have previously enjoyed subsidy-scheme from the government. They cannot and should not be allowed to become homeless Singaporean Citizens/ PR just because they are having financial hardships due to business failures, unemployment, retrenchment, severe pay cuts, business failure, prolonged illness or death of the sole breadwinner etc.

Please feel free to correct me if I have been negligent and wrong about any of the above.

Joanne - bebebergenwall@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

I wonder did other countries import so many foreign talents?

sportsplay said...

Mr. Wang:

Yes, it appears that many homeless people prefer being homeless! But it is a matter of making the best of a bad situation and getting used to it! Many homeless also experience a comaraderie amongst other homeless people, a unity they would not have in the real world!
As one who experienced the worst possible early-onset mental problems, both psychological and phsiological, (Paranoia, extreme fear, then topped-off by a Burst brain aneurism at 20 y/o that my parents left alone to heal!) It was never treated! I couldn't speak or understand words for the longest time! People thought I was crazy, which just added to the problem mix..I guess my parents thought it was just a nervous breakdown, as I was tettering along that path for years, when I felt a "small "POP" in my upper left forehead when coming home from work!!I still feel some after effects of it all some 45 years later! A whole abnormal social and personal life developed resulted from these problems, adding other things to be worked-on besides the primary sicknesses! And when you are in pain, as everybody experiences at one time or another, there is no time for goals, good study habits and marriage, though I eventually got married, just to have it dissolved after 18 years! One tends to think only about getting better and surviving, which is rarely ever attacked by the intellect, but by an emotional system that bears-up to the challenge by taking-it-on-the-chin, and living another day holdin-on to life and sanity as tightly as you can! You see, the emotional system that is battered to begin with, is the only resource many of us had to deal with our problems! I would like to see others accept situations and bear-up to them as I have, never having to take things to escape a terribly hurting emotional system! But that is unrealistic, unless someone takes a personal hand and provides day-to-day support and REAL help! But who knows the story that only they can tell! A person like myself can help some, but I have so much to do to catch-up and get off the homeless roles, that time constraints do not permit it! Remember, I am almost 68 and would like to lead some sort of life until the final day! Another problem is that I would not ask for help or assistance, and I don't know why that is, because I would be much farther ahead! Those of you with problems continue to seek meaningful help until you find it! Don't be stupid like I was!

Thanks

Thomas W. Atkielski

Anonymous said...

What "technical rule". Rules are static - never meant to capture all possible genuine scenarios. Human beings are not robots (although some people are employed to act like one) and we should overlook "technical rule" if need be.

Surely, HDB and MPs know that if the story pertaining to the 'technical rule' is indeed true, they should table some changes in Parliament for immediate rectification.

We are not too concerned with those who are 'homeless by choice'.

We are concerned with those who are homeless NOT BY CHOICE.

Anonymous said...

I dont know about Singapore, or even how relevant this is anymore, but I stumbled across this page after putting in "Homeless by choice" to google, so heres my reply:

Yes. People can be (and are)homeless by choice. At least in America. Often it has to do with wanting freedom. I know personally, as I have been a "stray" myself for three months so far and see no reason to change it. Now, not all people are homeless by choice, the majority are not. But I thought I'd give an honest answer to your little blog. =3

P.S.
I'm not a kid/teen runaway, abuse case, orphan, a drug addict or alcoholic, either.. Just thought I'd add that, since those seem to be the first things someone thinks when they hear about people like me.

Glowing Face Man said...

I spent a few years off-and-on homeless by choice, but noone would be able to tell I was homeless unless I told them. During that time I was a successful student, graduating as the distinguished grad in math from U of Arizona. I just wrote about my time homeless, here:
http://tinyurl.com/b74fyz