Fewer homeless families now: MSF

Fewer homeless families are being picked up by the authorities. Last year, 93 families were admitted to shelters, compared with 144 in 2013.

In contrast, 71 homeless individuals moved into transitional shelters, compared with 49 in 2013. Another 105 were sent to welfare homes last year.

The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) said there are fewer homeless families now, as efforts have been made in recent years to ensure those in financial and housing difficulties are referred early to family service centres (FSCs) for help.

Associate Professor Irene Ng, from the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) social work department, said households have also benefited from adjustments to housing policy.

“In the past, the problem of homeless families was partly due to some overstretching themselves to own a flat and having to sell it when in financial difficulty,” said Prof Ng.

“This issue is being addressed with refinements in HDB criteria as well as the development of interim rental housing for families.”

NUS sociologist Tan Ern Ser agreed that families have more housing options now.

“Perhaps family units are more likely to be given priority with rental housing,” he said.

“Also, they may be less choosy when offered shelter or interim housing, as this would be in the best interest of young children.”

There are three government- funded shelters that allow people to stay for up to six months for as low as $50 a month.

Places in these shelters – which can accommodate about 150 families – are reserved for those who have exhausted all means of accommodation and need immediate housing assistance, said MSF.

Those who do not qualify or cannot wait for a place in a shelter can apply for the Housing Board’s interim rental scheme, which costs about a few hundred dollars a month for a room. They can also try to rent on the open market.

Homeless individuals tend to be older, have health conditions and lack any means of supporting themselves or their families.

They are often admitted to welfare homes, said MSF.

To help homeless people, the Government works with social service and community agencies to address underlying issues, providing employment assistance, counselling or childcare referrals.

MSF said it works closely with FSCs and HDB branches in each town to identify and support those at risk.

Its spokesman said: “As we strive to provide support to the needy in our community, we are also mindful that some prefer to be self-reliant and decline assistance.”

Homeless seeking rental flat: Half of applicants successful, says MSF

Those who were unsuccessful had other housing options, such as owning or being able to afford a flat, or having family support, said Parliamentary Secretary for Social and Family Development Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim.

  • Posted 01 Mar 2016 15:45

SINGAPORE: The Ministry for Social and Family Development (MSF) provided support and shelter to 543 homeless individuals and 374 homeless families between 2013 and 2015, Parliamentary Secretary for Social and Family Development Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim told Parliament on Tuesday (Mar 1).

Of these, some sold their flat due to debt or divorce, or could not continue staying with their families because of strained relationships or behavioural issues, he noted. Many first approach close relatives or friends to take them in, or rent from the open market, for a few days or up to several months.

Of the cases assisted by MSF, about half applied for a rental flat, of which about half were successful, he told Parliament.

Those who were unsuccessful mostly had other housing options when they applied, such as being able to afford a flat or having family support. Some already owned a flat. MSF, the Housing and Development Board and social service agencies work together to assist these individuals and families to explore alternative housing options, Dr Faishal said.

He added that HDB recognises that families with young children and elderly dependants may have greater needs, and considers their circumstances and exercises flexibility on a case-by-case basis.

“For some families and individuals who have no other place to stay, MSF works with social service agencies to identify temporary shelter options while they find other accommodation. We also address their other needs, which may include counselling, financial assistance, employment and other factors that contribute to their housing instability,” Dr Faishal said.

Government and community agencies such as Social Service Offices, Family Service Centres, and HDB Branches in each town also coordinate identification and support for individuals and families who may be at risk of homelessness, he added. Families which are facing mortgage arrears, for example, may receive a combination of financial help, emotional support, and guidance.

Responding to a question from MP Muhamad Faisal Abdul Manap, Dr Faishal said he was unable to give a projection of the homelessness trend over the next five years, but he gave the assurance that the Ministry will “continue to work closely with HDB and community partners to provide assistance to homeless families and individuals and to help them to regain stability”.

Meeting the Challenges: The Future of the Family in Singapore

At Singapore Polytechnic’s Experience 2016, a Special Innovation Project by Singapore Polytechnic, FFL Council Member, Anita Fam shares as the Keynote Speaker about the social and demographic trends that are changing the face of the family in Singapore and the need to take action in order to meet and overcome these challenges.

By Anita Fam

Singaporean families are changing and they are changing much faster than we might have imagined. The combined drivers of shrinking family sizes, an aging population and other social and demographic factors means that we need to prepare ourselves for a shift in how we think about supporting the family unit both in terms of resources as well as focus.

How Are Our Families Changing?

Families Are Getting Smaller

There are now fewer people in an average Singapore household. Between 2013 and 2014, the average household size fell from 3.47 to 3.43 and this trend is likely to continue in the future. Not only are our families getting smaller, but what comprises of a typical family in Singapore is also changing.

In the past, a typical household unit would have seen 2 parents and several children. In 2014, for the first time, the percentage of families with this profile fell below 50%. This means that the traditional nuclear family is now in the minority. Instead, the majority of households in Singapore are now made up of married couples without children, married couples living apart from their children and one-person households. The number of married couples without children or living apart from their children has increased from 3% to 14% between 2000 and 2014. The number of single person household has in the same period of time crossed over the 10% mark and is now at 11.2%. In addition to these numbers, the number of divorces is slowly increasing. Again, this has consequences for single person households and single parent households. Taken together, all these numbers are large and significant.

Clearly, we now live in times where the definition of what comprises of a household unit and what that means about how families live together, share their lives, and depend on each other is changing.

Families are Getting Older

You’ve probably heard this said many times over the past few years, but Singapore’s population is ageing. With one of the world’s highest levels of life expectancy, Singaporeans born in 2000 can now look forward to living until 82 years of age. If you had been born in 1970, your life expectancy would have been just 66 years of age.

What this means to the family unit however is, that families are getting older. Not only are our households getting smaller because we have fewer children, but the average age of our families is being pushed up as we live longer. In the past, family portraits would have featured a few elderly members of the family surrounded by many young adults and children. Family portraits of the future will probably start to show the opposite – a few children surrounded by many senior and elderly family members.

Families Will See Their Resources Stretched

Older families also mean that each family will have fewer resources. With fewer young people in the family, there will in future be fewer working adults in each family to support ever increasing numbers of retired and elderly family members.

A look at some statistics will make this point easier to understand. In 1970, there were 13.5 working citizens supporting every elderly citizen. That means that the support of each elderly citizen could be shared across almost 14 working adults. Today, that ratio has fallen to 4.8 working citizens to each elderly citizen. By 2030, we can expect the ratio to have fallen even lower so that there will only be 2 working adults to support each elderly citizen.

If you think about it, that means that the resources that each working adult needs to set aside to support our elderly population will need to be 7 times more than what they would have needed in 1970; and we are not even factoring in the impact of rising healthcare, housing and other costs which have occurred in our society.

What Can We Do?

On the surface, it seems that these changes are overwhelming. However, there are many things which we can as a society start to do in order to meet and overcome these challenges.

Acknowledge the Importance of the Extended Family

Whilst the nuclear family unit might be getting smaller, the extended family unit is still an important part of our society. Singapore is lucky because we are a nation which recognises the role and importance of the extended family. So, families don’t need to comprise of just parents and children. They are made up of maternal and paternal grandparents, in-laws, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews and nieces.

So the very first step to addressing our future challenges is to recognise and acknowledge the importance of our extended families. Think about how we can create greater bonds within the extended family, be prepared to help beyond your immediate family units. By working across the extended family unit today, you prepare future generations to accept and adopt this model of support, care and love.

Prepare for Marriage

Getting married, starting a family, these are all important life changing events. In families of the future, the responsibility that each parent and spouse will need to take on will increase. Not only in terms of caring for your own children, but becoming jointly responsible for the care of your parents and your in-laws.

The better prepared you can be for marriage, the higher your chances of being able to build and grow a strong and lasting family unit yourself. So, take the time to go through a marriage preparation course before you get married. The stronger your relationship and the better prepared you are, the happier your marriage will be.

Make Time

It is true, the demands of work and the high cost of living and the expectations which most young couples have today mean that many of us spend incredible amounts of time and energy building our careers.

But this shouldn’t come at the cost of family time. Singaporeans recognise this too. FFL’s family time polled revealed that only 55% of us are satisfied with the amount of quality time we spend with our families.

Families need to become more intentional about setting aside “family time” to bond with each other. We need to make this as much a priority as possible.

Use Technology

Whilst technology has often been cited as a barrier to family time and communication, like most tools, it can be used to create more platforms for us to connect with our families too. Using WhatsApp family groups and other types of social media within a family group can enable us to stay in touch with each other despite our hectic lifestyles.

source from Families For Life

Monthly Housing Clinic

Difficulties in selling, purchasing or renting a house? Facing housing issues? Need an advise? Do register for our housing clinic!

The housing clinic is all about housing issue faced by client either in terms of selling, purchasing,renting or looking for a house, they are consider a suitable candidate for this platform.

This platform serves as an enlightenment, perhaps a better housing option or a clearer solution to their current housing issues. However, we do not do any housing appeal on client’s behalf unless we open the case on our end.

There is no criteria at all, although it is targeted to low income, any persons from all walks of life are welcomed, as long as they’ve any issues or legal issues, they can register for our Housing Clinic.

Housing Clinic will be available on appointment basis. You could send in a referral to us and we will follow up with an appointment date and time for your client accordingly. Please find referral form (Housing Clinic) on our referral tab.

Our housing clinic will be held on every 2nd and 4th Saturday of each month. All of the services provided will be held at the main office : Block 3 Queens Road #01-169 Singapore (260003).

We hope that the supports available could be fully utilized and let’s hope that this small steps will make a big change to clients’ lives.

For any queries, you can call us at 6471 5447 or email Ms Syazwani at syazwani@justparenting.org.sg

Thank you.

A Quick Summary – Budget 2016

Click picture to enlarge

GST Voucher — Cash Payments for 2016

Earlier this week, Singapore’s finance minister Mr Heng Swee Keat carried the traditional black briefcase and stepped up to the parliament podium today to make his first ever budget speech. His budget that puts forward government financial policy between 1st April 2016 – March 31st 2017 was strongly focused on the economy. Here’s a quick summary of what he put forth:

FOR HOUSEHOLDS IN GENERAL

  • GST VOUCHERS OF $250/$500 will be issued for all Singaporeans aged 21 and above . If you Annual Value of Home falls below $13,000 congratulations you’ll be getting $500 this year, otherwise you’ll be getting $250.
  • HDB SERVICE AND CONSERVANCY CHARGES REBATES OF BETWEEN 1 – 3 MONTHS will be made available to all HDB households.
  • PERSONAL INCOME TAX RELIEVED WILL BE CAPPED at $80,000 per year starting from YA2018.

 

FOR FAMILIES WITH YOUNG CHILDREN

  • A NEW CDA ACCOUNT CALLED THE FIRST STEP ACCOUNT was announced, parents of children born from 24th March onwards will receive $3,000 in their CDA. Dollar for dollar matching from the government up to co-savings cap will remain.
  • CLAIMABLE MEDISAVE FOR PRE-DELIVERY MEDICAL EXPENSES WILL DOUBLE
  • A NEW PILOT INITIATIVE CALLED KIDSTART will draw government and community resources to help needy children under the ages of 6 to receive support
  • A FRESH START HOUSING SCHEME WILL PROVIDE RENTAL HOUSING ASSISTANCE for families with children, to qualify, parents must stay employed and ensure that their young kids keep going to school.
  • OUTDOOR ADVENTURE EDUCATION will be expanded for all students through a new master plan, with a new outward bound campus to be built on Coney island, set to launch by 2020.

 

ON EMPLOYMENT AND EMPLOYABILITY

  • SKILLSFUTURE WHICH IS A PART OF THE GOVERNMENTS LONG TERM GAME PLAN will now include SkillsFuture Study Awards to develop specialist skills in 12 sectors for early to mid-career Singaporeans regardless of qualifications
  • WAGE SUPPORT SCHEMES WILL BE IMPLEMENTED to help those who face greater difficulty in finding jobs
    • A TECH SKILLS ACCELERATOR WILL BE SET UP TO Identify specific skills in demand in the ICT sector and assist Singaporeans to develop skill standards and certification in this field. They will also work with anchor employers who have agreed to hire based on skills not certification

FOR LOW INCOME FAMILIES

ENHANCEMENTS WILL BE INTRODUCTED TO THE WORKFARE INCOME SUPPLEMENT (WIS) SCHEME WIS will be paid every month instead of quarterly at present. The qualifying income ceiling will also be raised to $2,000/mth

 

FOR SENIORS

  • THE SILVER SUPPORT SCHEME WILL BE LAUNCHED IN JULY 2016. It will benefit the bottom 20% of seniors, who will receive payouts of $300-$750/quarter. The first payout will be a double payout including a back-payment for the 2nd quarter of 2016. There will be no need to apply for the scheme, and 140,000 seniors are expected to benefit.
  • A PILOT SCHEME WILL BE LAUNCHED TO BUILD COMMUNITY NETWORKS FOR SENIORS. This will bring together schools, VWOs, seniors with a team of full time officers to provide co-ordinated health and social support.

OTHERS

    • A NEW AREA CALLED THE JURONG INNOVATION DISTRICT WILL BE LAUNCHED that will create an innovative urban environment to house different activities within a single next gen industrial district. The area will house R&D, protoyping labs, advanced manufacturing and robotics. It will also function as a living lab with testing and development of future technology such as self-driving cars.  The first phase is expected to be completed by 2020
    • PIC CASH PAYOUTS WILL FALL FROM 60% TO 40% on expenditures on or after 1st August 2016, PIC will expire after YA 2018, indicating that there will be no extension for the scheme. Tax deductions under the scheme will remain the same

How Much GST Credits You’ll Be Getting?

 

The bigger question on most Singaporeans’ minds is how much will they be getting this year, $250/ $500? Well first off, you need to have had an assessable income of $26,000 or less in YA 2015.

If you meet that condition, the answer is pretty simple, if you live in a HDB flat , odds are you should be getting $500 – This of course, depends on where you stay. If you live in a condominium, apartment or landed property, you’ll probably be getting $250 this year.

How can you find out exactly how much you’ll be getting from GST Credits this year?
2016’s GST Credits are based on the Annual Value of your home. If you’re a homeowner, all you need to do to check that value to is login to  mytax.iras.gov.sg.

The value of your home will be available there at no cost. If you are not the homeowner and want to avoid an awkward conversation with your parents about how much their house is worth, you can simple go to E-Val and find out. Though you’ll have to pay $2.50 to do so.

To find out more about the annual value of your home visit IRAS here.

 

What are your thoughts on the Budget 2016? Comment them below!

MORE THAN 900 DISPLACED INDIVIDUALS, FAMILIES IDENTIFIED BETWEEN 2013-2015: MSF

More than 900 displaced individuals, families identified between 2013-2015: MSF

Between 2013 and 2015, the Social and Family Development Ministry has helped 543 individuals and 374 families. Around 80 per cent had low income and weak social support.

Article depicted from CNA

4,170 HDB flats launched in first BTO exercise of 2016

HDB launched 4,170 new flats for sale under the February 2016 Build-To-Order (BTO) exercise. Spread across three projects located in the non-mature towns of Bukit Batok and Sengkang, and the mature estate of Bidadari, they make up the first tranche of 18,000 flats to be launched in 2016. 

 

February 2016 BTO Exercise

 

2          A wide range of flats, comprising 2-room Flexi to Three-Generation (3Gen) flats, will be offered in this BTO exercise to meet the housing needs of first-timers, second-timers, multi-generation families, elderly and singles.  Further details can be found in Annex A.

 

3          Eligible first-timer families can enjoy up to $80,000 of housing grants, comprising the Additional CPF Housing Grant (AHG) (up to $40,000) and the Special CPF Housing Grant (SHG) (up to $40,000).  With these grants, buyers of 2-room Flexi, 3-room, 4-room and 5-room flats pay as little as $4,0001, $93,000, $211,000 and $314,000 respectively.

 

4          New HDB flats are priced with a generous subsidy, taking into account factors such as location, flat attributes and prevailing market conditions.  HDB’s prices are considerably lower than transacted prices of comparable resale flats in the vicinity (see Table 1 for the BTO prices and the comparable resale prices).   

Table 1:  February 2016 BTO Prices

Town Project(s) Flat Type Transacted Prices of
Resale Flats in the
Vicinity#
Selling Price
(Excluding Grants@)
Selling Price
(Including Grants^)
Non – Mature Towns
Bukit Batok

West Plains @
Bukit Batok

2-room Flexi* From $85,000 From $5,000
3-room $280,000 – $307,000 From $163,000 From $93,000
4-room $387,000 – $500,000 From $266,000 From $211,000
5-room $508,000 – $585,000 From $367,000 From $357,000
Sengkang Anchorvale Plains 2-room Flexi* From $80,000 From $4,000+
3-room From $171,000 From $101,000
4-room $365,000 – $415,000 From $267,000 From $212,000
5-room $380,000 – $481,000 From $324,000 From $314,000
Mature Town
Toa Payoh Alkaff Oasis 2-room Flexi* From $154,000 From $114,000
3-room $363,000 – $420,000 From $303,000 From $273,000
4-room $530,000 – $560,000 From $440,000 From $425,000
5-room $570,000 – $838,000 From $546,000 From $536,000
3Gen From $553,000 From $543,000

Note:

*     Come in two sizes of 36 sqm (Type 1) and 45 sqm (Type 2).

^     The assumed housing grants are meant for applicants applying as a family nucleus or two singles under the Joint Singles Scheme for a 2-room Flexi BTO flat.  SHG is applicable only to 2-room Flexi, 3-room and 4-room flats in the non-mature towns. With the SHG enhancement announced at NDR 2015, eligible first-time flat buyers with income up to $8,500 would now enjoy SHG of up to $40,000:

  1. 2-room Flexi flat: $80,000 (comprising AHG of $40,000 and SHG of $40,000 where applicable)
  2. 3-room flat: $70,000 (comprising AHG of $30,000 and SHG of $40,000 where applicable)
  3. 4-room flat: $55,000 (comprising AHG of $15,000 and SHG of $40,000 where applicable)
  4. 5-room flat / 3Gen flat: $10,000 (AHG only)

The actual grant amounts vary based on income and choice of flat type. Read more on various CPF Housing Grants available.

+     Buyers are required to pay at least 5% of the published price using their own CPF and/or cash savings when the total housing grants (i.e. AHG and SHG) that they are eligible for exceed 95% of the published price of flat. Excess housing grants, if any, can be used to pay for OCS items and premiums that singles and Singapore Citizen/Singapore Permanent Resident households have to pay, before they are credited into the Singaporean buyer’s CPF SA/RA and MA.

#     Details on the respective resale comparables in the vicinity for each BTO project can be found on the HDB e-Sales website. The differences in attributes between the resale comparables and the BTO flats should be taken into account when making a comparison.

@      Singles who apply for the 2-room Flexi flats under the Single Singapore Citizen Scheme will pay $15,000 more than married couples.  Eligible singles can also apply for AHG and SHG. The additional amount payable and the grants will vary based on the choice of lease tenure. The actual grant amounts will vary according to income.  Read more on various CPF Housing Grants available.

 

5          The 2-room Flexi flats are priced taking into account the lease tenure and whether the buyers are first-timers, second-timers, or others.  The price range of 2-room Flexi flats on short leases is shown in Annex B.

 

6          First-timer families will continue to enjoy priority in flat allocation2. Married/courting couples who wish to live together with their parent(s) can apply for a 3Gen flat in Bidadari.  Other multi-generation families who wish to live near each other in the same BTO project can apply for flats in Alkaff Oasis, West Plains @ Bukit Batok or Anchorvale Plains under the Multi-Generation Priority Scheme 3(MGPS). 

 

Advice for Flat Buyers

 

7          Applicants are advised to apply for a BTO flat in non-mature towns to enjoy a higher chance of success in securing a flat.

 

8          Regular updates on the number of applications submitted for the various flat types/towns will be published on the HDB InfoWEB.  Applicants are advised to check for updates before submitting their application.

 

9          Applicants who wish to take up an HDB housing loan for their flat purchase must produce a valid HDB Loan Eligibility (HLE) Letter when they book a flat.  They are encouraged to apply for an HLE Letter early so that they can plan their flat purchase in advance.  The HLE Letter will indicate the maximum loan that can be offered based on individuals’ financial situation.  Applicants can check their loan eligibility and apply for an HLE letter at www.hdb.gov.sg/hleapply.

 

Application for February 2016 BTO Exercise

 

10        Application for new flats launched in the February 2016 BTO exercise can be submitted online on the HDB InfoWEB from today, 24 February 2016 (Wednesday) to 1 March 2016 (Tuesday)Applicants can apply for only one flat type in one town.   

 

11        More details on application procedures can be found in Annex C.

 

12        For enquiries, the public can:

–      Log on to esales.hdb.gov.sg; or

–      E-mail hdbsales@mailbox.hdb.gov.sg; or

–      Visit the HDB Sales Office to speak with our Customer Relations Executives during office hours
       (Monday to Friday 8 am to 5 pm, Saturday 8 am to 1 pm).

 

Upcoming BTO-cum-SBF Launch in May 2016

 

13        In May 2016, HDB will offer about 4,070 BTO flats in Ang Mo Kio, Bedok, Bukit Merah, Bukit Panjang and Sembawang.  About 5,000 balance flats will be offered in a concurrent Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) exercise.  More information on the flats to be offered under the May 2016 BTO exercise is available on the HDB InfoWEB. 

 

[1] In this case, the total grants are $80,000 and the selling price is $80,000. A minimum payment of 5% of the published price, i.e. $4,000 is needed, and the excess AHG/SHG will be credited into the buyers’ CPF Special Account (SA) /Retirement Account (RA) and Medisave Account (MA).

[2] At least 85% (for 4-room and 5-room flats) and 70% (for 3-room flats) of the BTO public flat supply in the non-mature towns are set aside for first-timer families. For flats in the mature estate of Bidadari, at least 95% (for 3-room and bigger flats) of the public flat supply will be set aside for first-timer families.

[3] HDB will set aside up to 15% of the 2-room Flexi and 3-room flats in a BTO project (subject to a minimum of 20 units each) for parents applying under MGPS. The same number of 2-room Flexi and bigger flats will be set aside in the same BTO project for their married children.

Article depicted from HDB Infoweb.

 

 

 

Advisory on Haze Situation and Application for ComChest Haze Fund

In the recent weeks, the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) levels have risen above normal. We would like to urge all member VWOs to stay updated on the latest haze conditions.  You may wish to access the haze microsite set up by the National Environment Agency (NEA) at http://www.haze.gov.sg/  to obtain regular updates.

 

2              During the haze period, NEA also issues daily air quality forecast. The forecast for the next 24 hours is issued around 6 pm daily on the microsite. You could use the air quality forecast to plan your agency’s daily activities.

 

3              In general, the health impact of haze is dependent on one’s health status (e.g. whether one has pre-existing chronic heart or lung disease), the PSI level, and the duration and intensity of outdoor activity. Reducing outdoor activities and physical exertion can help limit the ill effects from haze exposure. If your agency serves vulnerable clients, such as the young and the elderly, please exercise vigilance to help them cope with the changes in the haze conditions. We have also attended the ‘PSI Handy Guide’ as an additional resource for you to plan the activities for your clients.

 

ComChest Haze Fund

4              To help member VWOs put in place measures to deal with the haze situation, NCSS has set up the ComChest Haze Fund, a one-time grant which can be used to buy items such as masks, portable fans, air purifiers or portable air conditioners to protect your clients.

 

Eligibility and Grant Amount

  1. ComChest Haze Fund is open only to programmmes serving vulnerable elderly and/or children, which provide essential services that will need to continue under severe haze situation, and are NOT receiving funding from the Ministry of Social and Family Development, Ministry of Health or Ministry of Education.
  2. Each eligible programme will be given a one-time grant of $1,000.

 

Fund Application and Closing Date

iii.                  Application can be made using the Funding Application Form attached. NCSS would consider each application on a case-by-case basis, based on your clients’ needs and justification(s).

  1. If your VWO have multiple eligible programmes, you could submit your application using a single form.
  2. The closing date for application is 21 September 2015.

 

Enquiries

  1. For further enquiries, please contact Ms Elaine Chung from the Fund Allocation Team at DID: 6210 6692 or email her at Elaine_CHUNG@ncss.gov.sg.

 

RDP BITES 2