In yet another sign of growing poverty, the Housing Development Board (HDB) reported that only 3,000 public housing renters managed to purchase a HDB flat in the past 5 years. According to a state media report dated in 2016, there are currently 60,000 rental apartments in Singapore. The latest housing figure show that social mobility is near non-existent, with only 5% of the poor being able to improve their living conditions.
Public housing rentals are heavily subsidised apartments that goes as low as S$26 a month, and it is income means-tested and usually reserved for only the poorest 20th percentile. The areas where these public housing are situated are the unofficial “ghettos” in Singapore, with the elderly and destitute poor making up most of the residential population. Many of these rental housing have poor estate cleanliness due to under-resourced cleaners, as the residents do not pay maintenance charges to the corrupted ruling party town councils.
Technically, public housing rentals operate similarly as a HDB housing “purchase”. Despite decades of government propaganda, HDB buyers are not “homeowners” and remain as “tenants” with HDB being the “landlord” according to the housing contract. The only difference is the prestige marketed by HDB, as new HDB housing now comes with “exotic”, albeit meaningless, western names like “[email protected]” and “[email protected]”. A 5-bedroom fetched as high as S$1 million, despite it being only a rental lease to HDB.
Earlier in 2017, Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong confirmed that HDB buyers will see their property value vanish once their lease is up. Only newly-bought HDB apartments have a 99 year lease, while the resale market have second hand HDB apartments with a leases as short as 40 years left.
Official income inequality figure now sits at 0.459, however the dictatorship manipulated the statistics through inaccurate definitions of the income group. Even with a GINI coefficient of 0.459, Singapore has the second-worst income equality when compared to the OECD nations.