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HDB Set To Test A New Form of Public Rental Housing

Updated: Apr 6, 2023

Former Anderson Junior College hostel in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 8 (Photo: Gavin Foo, The Strait Times)

At the end of 2023, the Housing Board (HDB) plans to introduce a novel public rental housing concept named "Single Room Shared Facilities," which offers individual rooms to low-income singles while sharing kitchen and toilet amenities. HDB intends to deliver a more private living environment while promoting a community atmosphere.

The pilot project will be conducted at the previous Anderson Junior College hostel located in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 8. This initiative comprises two 11-story buildings, which can accommodate 480 residents in single rooms, partitioned from 240 units. Each room, approximately 9 square meters in size, will be equipped with fundamental furnishings such as a single-size bed frame, wardrobe, table, chair, wall shelves, and a mini-fridge. For hygiene reasons, tenants will need to purchase their own mattress.

Each floor of the Single Room Shared Facilities project will house 24 tenants who will have access to communal amenities, such as a kitchen featuring five cooking stoves, sinks, and cabinets. Additionally, there will be two shared bathrooms on each floor, meaning that roughly 12 individuals will share three shower cubicles and three to four toilets.

The occupants will also have access to laundry and activity rooms on the premises, along with dining areas that have been converted from former study rooms. Unlike the Joint Singles Scheme Operator-Run model that was implemented at the end of 2021, which pairs singles together in semi-partitioned one- or two-room HDB flats, this setup offers each resident their private space while still promoting communal living.

A study room converted into a communal dining space (Photo: Housing Board Development)

Following a tour of a sample unit, National Development Minister Desmond Lee informed reporters that the former hostel site was chosen as the location for the pilot to minimize the preparation time. By utilizing existing infrastructure and making the necessary adjustments, HDB was able to launch the program quickly. Lee stated that constructing a new facility would have taken several years and significant resources to test a new model compared to retrofitting an existing location.

Lee added that the pilot will run for one to two years to determine whether the program is effective and whether it should be incorporated into the government's permanent public rental schemes. If it becomes a permanent feature, there may be changes to the configurations and the ratio of tenants to facilities. The primary goal is to try out the model, learn from the experience, and adjust as necessary. There will be a lot to gain from this pilot, and the findings will assist HDB in refining their approach to offering affordable housing solutions to low-income singles.

The former hostel site is undergoing a renovation process, and the Single Room Shared Facilities program will be open for individual applications at the end of 2023, once it is fully prepared. Eligible applicants must be Singaporean citizens who are at least 35 years old and single, divorced, or legally separated. Individuals who are widowed or orphaned and at least 21 years old may also apply.

Each tenant will be required to pay a fixed monthly fee, which will include individual rent, utilities, and conservancy charges. The rent will vary depending on the applicant's monthly income and other factors. More information about the rental fees will be made available later this year. According to HDB, an operator will be selected to manage the premises, which will include dealing with tenancy matters, providing social support, and furnishing and maintaining the facilities.

In addition, low-income singles will have the option to apply to three new sites under the Joint Singles Scheme Operator-Run model. These three new locations, which can accommodate up to 600 tenants, are situated in Bukit Panjang, Bidadari, and Sengkang. Applications for these sites will open at the end of 2023.

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