HDB delivers about 14,500 homes in 2021 despite disruptions caused by pandemic

The waiting time for the 17 BTO projects completed in 2021 was 4.3 years on average. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE – About 14,500 Housing Board (HDB) flats were delivered in 2021 despite disruptions to the construction industry caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

This number is a more than 50 per cent increase over the 9,400 flats handed over in 2020, and higher than the 13,500 units delivered in pre-pandemic 2019.

The waiting time for the 17 Build-To-Order (BTO) projects completed in 2021 was 4.3 years on average. Seven developments faced delays of six months or less, while the longest delay was about 11 months.

HDB chief executive Tan Meng Dui said on Saturday (Jan 1): “Amid the disruptions and constraints posed by the pandemic, we worked closely with our industry and agency partners to significantly increase the delivery of new HDB flats in 2021, bringing it back to the pre-pandemic level.

“We also stayed the course to meet the robust housing demand, launching more flats in 2021 than 2020.”

Ms Jael Lai, 30, a programme manager, moved into a BTO flat at Waterfront [email protected] in Punggol in July last year.

She had to extend the rental contract of a condominium unit in Sengkang with her husband after they were told that it would take six months longer to get the keys to their $398,000 five-room flat.

HDB rolled out 17,109 BTO flats in 2021. Together with 5,322 balance flats, a total of 22,431 units were offered in 2021.

It unveiled new plans for certain areas, with the first BTO flats in Ulu Pandan to be launched in the second half of 2022, and new flats in Mount Pleasant and Alexandra expected soon.

In 2021, HDB also created more housing options, with the launch of community care apartments in Bukit Batok and prime location public housing (PLH) flats in Rochor.

The community care apartments cater to those who are 65 and above, and integrate senior-friendly design features with care services. The PLH flats come with stricter conditions, such as a longer minimum occupation period of 10 years and a subsidy clawback upon resale.

Mr Tan said HDB will keep the momentum going in 2022, with plans to launch up to 23,000 flats per year in 2022 and 2023 across mature and non-mature towns.

“Besides ramping up housing supply by more than 35 per cent (this year) to meet the current strong housing demand, we will double down to deliver homes… with as little delay as possible while maintaining the quality and safety of our building programme,” he added.

The average waiting time for ongoing BTO projects, with the delays brought about by Covid-19, has remained at four to five years, HDB said.

The waiting times of BTO projects launched in the past two years have generally ranged from three to five years.

“The actual waiting times depend on the readiness of sites and specific BTO projects, and differ slightly from year to year,” HDB said.

A few projects launched in 2021 have longer waiting times due to challenging site conditions or very high blocks, HDB said.

These include River Peaks I & II along the Rochor Canal and Queen’s Arc in Queenstown, which have an estimated waiting time of 5.5 or more years.

Those with urgent housing needs can apply for projects with shorter waiting times of less than three years, HDB said, such as those at Hougang Olive, Parc Clover and Parc [email protected]

HDB encourages flat buyers to consider BTO flats in non-mature estates, where the application rates are generally lower compared with those in most mature estates.

“With about 40 per cent of all BTO applicants who are invited to book a flat not doing so, even where the project application rates are above one or even close to two, the majority of applicants will still be able to select their new flats.”

HDB added that it recognises challenges faced by flat buyers due to delays caused by Covid-19 disruptions. It had worked closely with partners to reduce delays, helping to secure manpower and materials needed to complete projects.

Affected buyers can apply for temporary housing under the Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme if they are first-timers, or be considered for interim rental housing for low-income households.

HDB will consider waiving the forfeiture and one-year wait-out period for those who decide to cancel their flat application to buy a resale unit.

For those who moved into their new HDB homes last year, the wait has been worth it.

Said Ms Lai: “I enjoy the quiet and peaceful environment, with just enough bustle and convenience with the new Northshore Plaza mall. It’s a good reprieve from the busy Singapore life.”

Ms Pereira Teresa Roderica, 30, a quality control analyst, moved into her Tampines GreenFlora flat with her husband and cat, after a delay of six months.

They paid around $420,000 for the five-room apartment.

“It is near the amenities that I need, with a wet market a few bus stops away, supermarket just downstairs, and close to the malls and expressways,” she said.

“Source: [HDB delivers about 14,500 homes in 2021 despite disruptions caused by pandemic] © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Permission required for reproduction”

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