MND introduced the Interim Rental Housing Link (IRH) scheme in 2009 as a pilot, to help needy families with temporary housing at subsidised rates, while they work out a more permanent solution. The scheme is run by private operators, not HDB. To cover costs, the operators are allowed to lease out a portion of the flats at each IRH site at market rental rates to other Singaporeans and foreigners working and studying in Singapore.
IRH is a minor supplement to the public rental housing scheme which is run by the HDB. (While 1,500 households are under the IRH scheme, 45,000 families are living in the HDB rental flats.)
We are tweaking the IRH scheme to better serve Singaporean families in need.
First, HDB will exercise greater oversight of the IRH scheme, to ensure that the private operators managing the scheme serve needy Singaporean families first. HDB will limit the role of the operators to managing the IRH tenancies and premises on HDB’s behalf.
Second, HDB will introduce guidelines to ensure better pairing of households to help minimise conflicts. (IRH requires two households to flat-share as this lowers their individual rental cost.)
Third, HDB will extend the IRH tenancy period from six months to a year, renewable for up to two years. This will reduce the anxiety that families feel, and give greater certainty to tenants who may need more time to work out a longer-term housing option. (Those waiting for their new flat or public rental flat can continue to renew until their flat is ready for occupancy.)
The first site that will operate under the revised IRH terms is at Dover Road, with about 500 flats.
As for the existing five IRH sites, HDB will honour the contracts with the private operators until their lease expiry.
I hope that these changes will provide a more stable living environment for needy Singapore families in transition. But we should be mindful of the many social problems faced by these families. Resolving them will require many helping hands, from CDC, FSCs, self-help groups to the local social service agencies.
Let’s try to give them a leg up, especially the children.
After reading the above, I felt compelled to comment. The above is re-produced from Minister of Environment Khaw Boon Wan’s FB. Since comments are closed, I shall write my comments here.
The IRH plays a small role in HDB housing rental mainly for some Singaporeans and foreign students. It is privately run with units leased from HDB. Unlike those rental units run by HDB, it seems that the IRH operates on a commercial basis.
To address the problem of many citizens not having accomdation, HDB has decided to expand the IRH to play a bigger role by providing more rental units to outside agents or operators at the market rates – hence to get two different unknown families into a unit to cut rental costs. “Paired” them!
The above smacks of “tai chi”! Instead of tackling the housing woes of citizens, HDB has decided to outsource to private enterprises in the form of expanding the IRH. The latter will be given more flats so that they can rent out to needy citizens. More profits for them?
HDB’s solution to the housing rental problem seems so simple. Just licence those profit driven commercial enterprises to look into the housing needs of citizens. It is not going to be cheap. HDB simply regulates and provides a framework for them to run their IRH business.
How convenient and easy for HDB. Just outsource it. No costs or overheads involved. Just wash their hands off the matter. Those private businesses driven by profits will handle it. Really langgar.
From experience we know that those one room rental flats usually rented to lonely old folks on twin sharing basis generate lots of social problems. They quarrel, fight and even resulted in serious injuries sometimes leading to death between the two tenants. It’s reported in the papers every now and then.
What makes HDB think that similar problems will not arise in the IRH scheme? By squeezing two families into a three room flat will not have problems such as those one room flats?
To believe that two desparate families unknown to each other with children squeeze into a small three or four room flat will live happily ever after is naive. Extreme naivete beyond imagination.
Just take a minute and imagine that 8 persons (4 per family) or more living under one roof. The sharing of kitchen, toilet, laundry, living room watching TV etc etc will surely create friction and conflicts. Still believe that they can co-exist peacefully?
Two old folks staying in a rental flat can’t co-exist. Do you think they could? Why didn’t HDB think of that? Or they just don’t bother? Why should they bother anyway? Take it or leave it. You’ve got no choice.
Giving our desperate citizens the “leg up” or create more headaches? Do they think that the children will live happily in such a “stable environment”? Well, it says that the CDCs, FSCs will help out in case there is any problem. Again, HDB “tai chi” to those social organisations. How clever of them?
I pity the police. Instead of going after criminals, they will have much work attending to their problems subsequently. Unnecessary social resources are wasted due to HDB’s creativity. Just wait and see. Mark my words.
I believe HDB can do better than just “tolak” the problem to private businesses whose only motive is profits. HDB should do the right thing by taking DIRECT responsiblity of our citizens’ housing needs.
Please do not take the easy way out by outsourcing. It is morally wrong.