Country Listing

Singapore Table of Contents


Housing and Development Board

Central to the issue of land management was another statutory board, the Housing and Development Board, established in 1960. Between 1960 and 1985, the government-owned board completed more than 500,000 high-rise, high-density public housing apartments-- known as housing estates--along with their related facilities were completed. By comparison, the British colonial government's Singapore Improvement Trust had completed only 23,000 apartments in its thirty-two years of existence (1927-59). From 1974 to 1982, the Housing and Development Board built and marketed middle-income apartments, an activity which became a function of the board after 1982.

By 1988 the Housing Development Board was providing housing and related facilities for 88 percent of Singaporeans, or some 2.3 million people--a feat that has been called urban Singapore's equivalent of "land reform." Government encouragement of apartment ownership was both an economic and a "nation building" goal because individual ownership would ultimately pay for the program while giving citizens a "stake in Singapore." The board also provided estate management services and played an active role in promoting the advancement of construction technology. As one of the country's major domestic industries, housing construction served as an important economic pump primer.

Home owners were encouraged to use their Central Provident Fund savings to pay for the apartments. The factors determining the selling prices of apartments included location, construction cost, ability of the applicants to pay, and the practical limits to government subsidies. Resettlement policies aimed at equitable payments, minimal readjustment, and real improvement in housing conditions. In social terms, attention was paid to providing an environment conducive to community living, integrating the population, preserving the traditional Asian family structure, and encouraging upward social mobility by providing opportunities for home upgrading.

Starting with a capital expenditure of S$10 million in 1960, the Housing and Development Board's annual capital expenditures rose to about S$4 billion by 1985. The board's capital budget, with funds obtained in the form of low-interest government loans, represented 40 percent of the government's capital budget. Selling prices, rent rates, and maintenance charges were determined by the government, and the board received an annual subsidy of 1 to 2 percent of the government's main operating expenditure.

Data as of December 1989