Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Happy they're closer to owning a flat

HOUSEWIFE Mardina Mohd, 48, was ecstatic when she found out about the new Special Central Provident Fund (CPF) Housing Grant (SHG) to help low-income families become home owners.

For her, home for the past 17 years has been a two-room rental unit in Toa Payoh.

She lives with her husband, who earns $1,000 a month as a cleaner, and son, who makes $1,000 a month as a bouncer.

They now pay $350 a month in rent.

'I am so happy I can now buy a flat,' said Madam Mardina, who visited the Housing Board to check out two-room flats on offer a day after the grant was announced last Thursday.

'I'm sick of paying for a place that isn't mine in the end,' she said.

Madam Mardina's family was one of 10 low-income households who told The Straits Times that the new grant has rekindled their aspirations of becoming home owners.

Announced in Parliament last Thursday, the SHG is part of the Government's attempt to give poor families a chance to own their homes and move up in life.

Families with household incomes not exceeding $2,250 a month will get between $5,000 and $20,000 to buy a flat.

Those with household incomes of less than $1,500 a month will get $20,000 but will be restricted to buying two-room flats.

All families who qualify for the scheme can also get up to $40,000 from the existing Additional Housing Grant.

The SHG can be used to buy only new two- and three-room standard flats in non-mature estates, such as Bukit Panjang and Yishun.

In Madam Mardina's case, she may need to take a loan of only $35,000 to pay for a two-room flat that costs $100,000.

That is provided she and her husband receive the full $60,000 in SHG and additional grant, and if they have $5,000 in their CPF Ordinary Account savings to partially pay for the flat.

Owning a flat would also be a dream come true for Ms Winnie Ong, 29, a waitress.

She has been living with her mother -in-law in Hougang for more than six years, with her husband, a technician, and daughter.

Their combined income is below $1,500, and she had never thought that buying a flat was possible.

'It's a bit difficult right now, living with my mother-in-law, and I want my daughter to have her own space to grow up too. We can't keep sponging off others anyway,' she said.

As for 26-year-old Nora Bahadrul Hisham, a retail assistant, growing up in a rental flat all her life has made her determined to give her four-year-old son a better home.

The single mother earns $1,000 in a good month and lives in a one-room rental flat in Taman Ho Swee.

'The rental flat is dark and my son gets frightened at night. If we can use the grant to get another home, it'll be better for his future,' she said.

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