From Slums to World City
The World Bank’s latest annual World Development Report hails Singapore as a model country for charting a nation’s move from slums to world city, adding to the good international recognition of the country’s successes in public housing.
Just last year, Singapore emerged as the only winner in the Asian Region for the United Nations Public Service Award. This was one of the most prestigious international awards for excellence in public service. HDB was also conferred the Singapore Quality Award (Special Commendation), presented to organisations which had achieved all-round business excellence.
In its report, the World Bank notes that when Singapore became independent in 1965, 70 percent of households lived in badly overcrowded conditions. A third of the people squatted on the city fringes. An estimated 600,000 homes were needed, but only 60,000 were available.
Within a few decades, however, Singapore’s urban landscape was renewed, as all the slums were cleared. Singapore soon became one of the cleanest and most advanced cities in the world. This was when HDB’s Home Ownership Programme came into play, where "at the height of the programme, HDB was building a new flat every eight minutes."
"Doing so is a tall order for any government, but Singapore shows it can be done", the World Bank says.
Today, 82 percent of Singaporeans live in public housing, and 95 percent of them own the flats they live in. Without a doubt, HDB living has become a way of life for most Singaporeans.
The Vision Continues
The Home Ownership Programme forms the cornerstone of Singapore's public housing. Started in 1964, it aims to give Singaporeans a stake in the nation and its future. It promotes rootedness and a sense of belonging among Singaporeans, contributing to the overall economic, social and political stability of the country. More than just providing shelters, it also provides Singaporeans with a tangible asset and a good hedge against inflation.
The programme benefits Singaporeans and creates quality living environments for many citizens. It has responded to the challenges of its time, and has met the needs of Singaporeans by evolving over the years. It will continue to play an important role in the future of Singapore’s public housing.
In fact, exciting new lifestyle concepts and transformations have emerged under the "Remaking Our Heartlands" plans, where the key focus is now on creating sustainable living environments.
Drawn by its renowned track record in providing world-class housing, the world has now come knocking on the doors of HDB. Even much-respected dignitaries such as Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao have come personally to discover for themselves how HDB’s policies have created a world city in Singapore.