While they expressed a desire to live near their children and grandchildren, most seniors who took part in a housing dialogue session organised by the Ministry of National Development (MND) yesterday (June 19) were not in favour of three-generation (3Gen) flats.
More than half of the 51 participating seniors, ranging in age from 44 to 83, said they were not averse to awarding absolute priority to Build-to-Order (BTO) applicants who want to live near, or with their parents — a contrary response to that of courting couples in the first Housing Conversations session, who felt that giving priority to these buyers would be unfair.
“If the government wishes to encourage families to stay together, why shouldn’t they make it as easy as possible? The choice is ultimately the children’s, they can take advantage of it or not,” said Mr Adnan, 55, a participant at the event.
Others who were not so sure suggested that it puts other applicants, who might have other priorities, at an unfair disadvantage.
Under the existing Married Child Priority Scheme or Multi-Generation Priority Scheme, ballot chances are increased and a 15 per cent quota for certain BTO units are set aside respectively for such applicants.
Three-generation (3Gen) flats, however, proved to be an unpopular proposition, with 75 per cent of the participants providing a resounding “no”. Concerns such as friction between relatives and an unconducive environment were repeatedly voiced.
“The older and younger generations may have vastly different habits and not get along under the same roof, it’s idealistic but ultimately not the most workable,” said Dr Rosalind Lui, a participant.
Yet, Mr Frankie Chew, 67, who voted favourably, said he finds the idea of “kampung living” appealing, adding that “it would be nice for the option to be on the table”.
The majority of seniors also voiced support for larger CPF grants for resale flats.
Currently, first-time resale flat buyers are offered an additional S$10,000 grant if they apply for a flat near their parents, a scheme that has seen a 40 per cent take-up rate, according to MND figures.
Mr Mitchell, 64, a participant who has three children, felt that there was room for improvement. “Any bit goes a long way, especially where a family is just starting and the older generation has retired, factoring in rising costs everywhere else and the resale levy, S$10,000 just is not enough,” he said.
A common suggestion among the participants was to peg the grant to a percentage of the price, or increase it at the rate of inflation, an idea that MND said would be taken into consideration.
Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee, who was speaking at the dialogue, announced that there will be a fourth Housing Conversation cross-generation session, which will take place in mid-July. The Housing Conversation series was initially planned as a three-part series.
He said: “In conversations on housing arrangements, it’s important for a broad spectrum of Singaporeans to be brought together and hear each other’s views from across generations, to give us a richer discussion to meet the aspirations of all sorts of families island-wide with a broad range of options.