Feb 19, 2010

Most are happy with their HDB flats

Board's 2008 survey indicates high level of satisfaction all round among flat-dwellers

By Jessica Cheam

DESPITE the occasional grouse, the overwhelming majority of public housing residents are happy with their flats and think they are good value for money, according to the Housing Board (HDB).

Its 2008 survey of 8,000 households shows that 96.4 per cent were satisfied with their flats, and 95.1 per cent, with their neighbourhoods.

High satisfaction levels were seen across flat types, age groups, ethnicities, educational qualifications and household income, said the HDB, which did its five-yearly survey via face-to-face interviews and online polls.

What residents most liked about their homes were their location, transport facilities and estate amenities. Cleanliness, maintenance and noise topped their list of grouses.

Just over 80 per cent were proud of their flats, thanks largely to their ability to own a home.

Close to nine in 10, or 86 per cent, said their flats were worth the money, thanks to capital appreciation, location, nearby facilities and affordability.

The survey also showed more people living in public housing than ever before - and they are older, wealthier and better educated.

The HDB flat population increased by 2.7 per cent to 2.92 million between 2003 and 2008.

This represented about 60 per cent of Singapore's total population of 4.84 million people in 2008, according to the Department of Statistics.

Out of this HDB population, 88 per cent were Singapore citizens, 8 per cent were permanent residents and 4 per cent were foreigners.

The HDB population is ageing too, with the average age of flat-dwellers rising to 37 from 30 about two decades ago. About one in 10 was 65 years and older in 2008 - up from 7.6 per cent in 2003 and 5.4 per cent in 1987.

Education levels are up too. Just under a third of those with jobs had tertiary education, compared to 19.9 per cent in 1998.

More were in white-collar jobs: 34.5 per cent in 2008, compared to 29.5 per cent in 1998.

And average household income rose to $5,680 in 2008 from $4,238 in 2003.

National University of Singapore (NUS) sociologist Paulin Straughan, a Nominated Member of Parliament, said the satisfaction levels could reflect the HDB's constant upgrading of housing estates.

'The HDB has been careful not to allow the development of slum areas, and there has been a lot of upgrading of old estates such as Queenstown,' she said.

She added that the changing profile of the average resident had implications for HDB, which would have to find ways to meet their higher aspirations.

Associate Professor Sing Tien Foo from the NUS real estate department noted that the ageing population meant that HDB would have to provide sufficient housing and amenities for the elderly.

Typical of residents surveyed, security guard Ahmad Noor Talim, 47, a married father of three, said his five-room flat in Tampines was a 'good investment', conveniently located near amenities and affordable when he bought it for $305,000 three years ago.

HDB is to release further survey findings on the social well-being of residents over the next two months.

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