Affordable housing plays an important role in achieving social stability as it unites people of different socio-economic, educational and cultural backgrounds, which promotes diversity and reduce racial tension and discrimination.
Public housing in Singapore, also called HDB flat, is one of the most successful public housing programmes in the world. While many other Asian countries finding it’s difficult to provide large-scale affordable housing for people with lower-income due to rapid urbanisation and land scarcity, more than 80% of Singapore’s population are living in subsidised units built by the government. A large variety of unit types and layouts are provided for citizens with various housing budgets. In addition, Singapore has three major ethnic groups: Chinese, Malay and Indian. In order to avoid ethnic segregation and encourage mixed communities, a housing policy has been set since the late 1970s to limit each of these ethnic groups in one housing area.
While living in Singapore, I was impressed by the design and good quality of public housing: due to limited land resources, each HDB flat block is elevated to leave the ground floor space void for communal activities. I saw people playing chess, reading newspapers and sometimes even having wedding ceremony in this open and sheltered space. Additionally, a public corridor with generous space is shared by residents living on the same floor of a housing block, which allows people to grow plants and interact with their neighbours. The shared corridor also provides a sense of security especially for families with children. It is very convenient to live in these HDB flats, because hawker centre, supermarkets, clinics, public transport and other supporting facilities can be easily reached by walking.
Singapore HDB flat is not only a good example of public housing development, but also an inspiration for how to design inclusive community. The success of public housing development has benefit Singapore in various aspects, especially in terms of social stabilisation and building the Singaporean multicultural nationhood.
Chen, J., Stephens, M., Man, Y., Deng, Y., Sing, T., and Ren, C., (2013), The Future of Public Housing : Ongoing Trends in the East and the West . Heidelberg : Springer. Available at: https://link-springer-com.libproxy.ncl.ac.uk/content/pdf/10.1007%2F978-3-642-41622-4.pdf [Accessed: May 2019]
Smidt-Jensen, S. and Jochumsen, S. (2012). Singapore’s successful long-term public housing strategies | ifhp.org. [online] Ifhp.org. Available at: https://www.ifhp.org/ifhp-blog/singapore%E2%80%99s-successful-long-term-public-housing-strategies [Accessed May 2019].
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