SINGAPORE: A new type of public housing with senior-friendly design features and subscription to care services will be launched for sale in February’s Build-to-Order (BTO) exercise, authorities announced on Thursday (Dec 10).
By Cheryl Lin @CherylLinCNA www.channelnewsasia.com
The flats, known as Community Care Apartments, are for home buyers aged 65 and above.
To be located at Bukit Batok West Avenue 9, buyers will have the flexibility to choose a lease ranging from 15 to 35 years. The flats cannot be resold or rented out.
“(The apartments) will offer seniors aged 65 and above an affordable housing option which integrates senior-friendly design features with care services that can be scaled according to care needs,” said the Ministry of National Development (MND), the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Housing and Development Board (HDB), which jointly developed the housing concept.
Under the model, eligible seniors will have to buy a variable housing lease and subscribe to a compulsory basic care package, with the option of adding on more advanced care services.
There will also be communal areas, services and programmes to “enable meaningful participation and social interactions amongst residents”, the authorities said.
The new housing concept was developed as Singapore deals with a rapidly ageing population. By 2030, almost a million Singaporeans will be aged 65 and above, nearly double the figure in 2017, they added.
“This pilot will broaden today’s options for seniors who require some care and support within their homes, but are still able to and wish to live on their own,” said National Development Minister Desmond Lee in a Facebook post.
Health Minister Gan Kim Yong added:”With the new Community Care Apartments, our seniors can look forward to living independently even as their care needs change, and enjoy more opportunities to stay active and take charge of their health.”
CARE SERVICES, SENIOR-FRIENDLY FEATURES
There will be 160 flats up for sale, housed in a single block with 14 units on each floor.
Under the mandatory basic service package, residents will have access to 24-hour emergency monitoring and response, key card access to their flats, basic health checks and simple home fixes.
These will be facilitated by an onsite community manager.
Residents may also opt for extra care services at an additional cost, including personal home care, medical transport, meal delivery, laundry and housekeeping.
They will also get priority admission to the nearby Bukit Batok Care Home in future if needed.
To facilitate social interaction, the community manager will also organise programmes for residents, said MND, MOH and HDB. On top of that, they can mingle in communal spaces of about 50 sqm on each floor.
“Residents of the Community Care Apartments at Bukit Batok will also enjoy convenient access to a variety of retail, leisure, healthcare and public transport amenities that support seniors’ daily needs,” the authorities said.
These include a hawker centre, community garden, the Bukit Batok polyclinic, malls and wet markets.
Each flat, measuring 32 sqm, will come with senior-friendly fittings, including wheelchair-friendly doors, large bathrooms, grab bars and slip-resistant flooring.
There will also be built-in wardrobes and cabinets, along with a furnished kitchen so that minimal renovations will be needed before seniors can move in, said the authorities.
The flats are designed with an open layout, with sliding partitions separating the living room and bedroom space. It was a design adjustment made after feedback from focus groups.
Applicants must be 65 years old and above, with an average gross monthly household income not exceeding S$14,000.
Only families with at least one Singaporean applicant, and singles who are Singapore citizens may apply.
Those who have previously received two public housing subsidies and who bought HDB Studio Apartments or short-lease two-room Flexi flats in the past are not eligible.
Applicants who already own a private property or HDB flat must sell the property within six months of collecting the keys to their Community Care Apartments.
Similar to other housing types, applicants must purchase a lease that can cover themselves and their spouse, if any, until they are at least 95 years old.
That means possible lease lengths are between 15 to 35 years, in five-year increments.
Applicants for the assisted living flats must purchase a lease that can cover themselves and their spouse, if any, until they are at least 95 years old. (Source: Housing & Development Board)
While the apartments cannot be resold or rented out, owners who no longer need the flats can return it to HDB for a refund on the value of the remaining lease.
Authorities added that seniors “with more pressing care needs” will get priority, such as in cases where one applicant or occupier needs permanent assistance with daily living activities.
More details on the quota for this group will be released at the BTO exercise in February.
Seniors can also jointly ballot for the flat with a friend or family member who is eligible. If successful, both applicants will get to book their flats together.
PRICING STARTS FROM S$62,000
Indicative prices for the Community Care Apartments go upwards of S$62,000 for the shortest lease of 15 years.
This price includes both the cost of the unit and the subscription for the basic service package.
Applicants must pay for the flat lease fully upfront, using cash and/or their Central Provident Fund balance.
Buyers will also have to pay stamp, legal and other fees for the flat purchase, which will add up to around 2 per cent of the flat price, the authorities said.
For the basic service package, they can choose to pay either fully upfront, or partially upfront while paying S$50 a month throughout the flat lease. This monthly fee will be reviewed periodically.
An example of the total upfront payment applicants would have to make depending on the leases they opt for (Source: Housing & Development Board)
The public can find out more about the apartments at an exhibition held at HDB Hub in Toa Payoh from Dec 14 to Mar 31.
There will be a mock-up of the communal space, along with 3D models of the apartments, while a showroom of the flat will be available from Jan 4 next year.
In line with safe distancing measures, visitors must book an appointment to visit the exhibition. Appointments can be made from Dec 11, before the exhibition opens.