Being a single parent is fraught with challenges both socially and financially. Securing home ownership is even more difficult, as outlined in AWARE’s critique of the Fresh Start Housing Scheme. For decades, HDB regulations have thrown obstacles in the path of divorced, widowed or unwed parents in getting a home.
Thankfully, we are taking baby steps towards becoming a more inclusive society for our marginalised groups. On 4 March 2020, then-Minister for National Development (now Deputy Prime Minister) Lawrence Wong announced in parliament that HDB will lower the minimum age for single parents looking to buy Build-to-Order (BTO) flats to 21, and make the 3-room flat type available to them.
What other changes have taken place? How can single parents achieve home ownership? We go into detail below.
For divorced or widowed single parents
Divorced or widowed Singapore citizens, aged 21 and above, with children under their custody, care and control, are now considered a family nucleus and can purchase a HDB flat under the Public Scheme with their kids. Being considered a family nucleus also makes them eligible for the Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (EHG), as well as higher chances of scoring a new flat if they are first-timers, with a portion of 2-room Flexi and 3-room Build-To-Order (BTO) flats in non-mature estates set aside for divorced or widowed parents with children aged 18 and below.
Getting a new flat from HDB with their children also qualifies them for schemes such as the Assistance Scheme for Second-Timers (Divorced/ Widowed Parents) (ASSIST) and Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme (PPHS), if they meet the eligibility criteria (such as citizenship and income ceiling).
Divorced and widowed parents buying a resale flat can qualify for the CPF Housing Grant and EHG. They can also qualify for a Proximity Housing Grant (PHG), as long as they have not previously taken the PHG.
BTO vs Resale
For BTOs, flat allocation is up to 5% of 2-room Flexi and 3-room flats in the non-mature estates. This quota is shared with the 15% quota set aside for second-timers.
Eligibility conditions include having at least 1 child aged 18 years or below – either your child from a legal marriage or legally adopted. Adoptive parents must have the Adoption Order of the child when applying for the flat. You must also not have acquired any interest in an HDB flat or private residential property (except for your matrimonial flat/ property) after the date of divorce/ separation or death of your spouse.
Upon successful BTO application, divorced or widowed parents who need housing while waiting for their BTO flats to be completed can apply for a temporary rental flat under the Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme (PPHS), if they meet the eligibility criteria.
For resale flats, divorced or widowed buyers with children may be eligible for the Proximity Housing Grant (PHG) if they are living with or near their parents; this applies to both first or second-timers. First-timers may also apply for the Family Grant. This brings it up to a total of three grants divorced or widowed parents can draw on for resale flats — EHG, PHG and Family Grant.
Widowed or divorced parents aged 21 years old and above with a monthly household income of a maximum $1,500 may opt to rent a one-room or two-room flat under the Public Rental Scheme.
For unmarried single parents
Unfortunately, HDB policy still does not allow unwed, single parents and their children to count as a “family nucleus”, which would make them eligible for flats and housing grants under the Families Grant scheme. What’s more, they cannot apply for rental flats if their income exceeds S$1500. This means unwed parents can only go for resale flats, which are usually way above their financial means. As such, more so than divorced or widowed parents, unwed parents tend to fall between the cracks of being “too rich for a public rental flat” and “too poor to afford to own a home”.
BTO vs Resale
Before DPM Lawrence Wong’s announcement in 2020, unwed parents could only apply to buy a 2-Room Flexi BTO in non-mature estates and had to be 35 years old and above. Now, unwed single parents over the age of 21 can buy a 3-room BTO flat in non-mature estates. HDB’s key consideration is to ensure Singaporean children have a stable home to grow up in and a good start in life.
Meanwhile, an unwed parent resale buyer may qualify for the same grant amount as a single person under the Joint Singles Scheme (up to $80,000) or the Single Singapore Citizen Scheme (up to $40,000). Unwed parents who cannot afford to buy any flat will be considered for public rental flats.
In a nutshell, here are the housing options for single parents
Finding it difficult to get a home as a single parent? Let us help!
Let Ohmyhome’s smart data-matching technology MATCH you with the right home, according to your specific needs. Submit your preferences to us and our algorithm will filter all our available listings based on those, and we’ll WhatsApp them to you once we find a match. We’ll also send you relevant content that you can use for your research and inform your home-buying decision, so you no longer have to spend hours searching online for the information that you need. Because at Ohmyhome, we’re always by your side, always on your side. Secure an appointment with any of our Super Agents by dropping us a message on WhatsApp or via our Live Chat at the bottom, right-hand corner of the screen.