Housing and Development Board

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Housing & Development Board (HDB)
Housing and Development Board (logo).png
Logo of the HDB
Agency overview
Formed1 February 1960; 60 years ago (1960-02-01)
Preceding agency
JurisdictionGovernment of Singapore
HeadquartersHDB Hub, 480 Lorong 6 Toa Payoh, Singapore 310480
Agency executives
Parent agencyMinistry of National Development (Singapore)
The HDB Hub at Toa Payoh, headquarters of the Housing & Development Board of Singapore.
HDB Flats in Jurong West

The Housing & Development Board (abbreviation: HDB, often referred to as the Housing Board) is the statutory board of the Ministry of National Development responsible for public housing in Singapore. It was established in 1960 to replace the colonial-era Singapore Improvement Trust.

HDB is credited with clearing the squatters and slums, and resettling residents into low-cost state-built housing in the 1960s.[1] By 2019, 78.7% of Singaporeans live in public residential developments, ranging from studio units to executive condominiums provided by the HDB, a major factor in Singapore having one of the highest home-ownership rates - over 90% of the resident population - in the world.[2]


In the aftermath of World War II, the city sustained massive damage; the low construction rate and rebuilding efforts also exacerbated Singapore's housing shortages in the decades that followed. In 1947, the British Housing Committee Report noted Singapore had "one of the world’s worst slums -- 'a disgrace to a civilised community'", with an average person-per-building density was 18.2.

In its election campaign in 1959, the People's Action Party (PAP) recognized that housing required urgent attention and pledged to provide affordable housing for low-income families. When it won the elections and formed the newly elected government, it followed through by passing the Housing & Development Act of 1960 to replace the colonial-era Singapore Improvement Trust with the Housing & Development Board on 1 February 1960. This enables the single agency to be responsible for the design, development, allocation and maintenance of the housing estates.

Led by Lim Kim San, the HDB made first priority during formation to build as many low-cost housing units as possible and introduced the Five-Year Plan. The housing that was initially built was mostly meant for rental. The Home Ownership for the People Scheme was also introduced to help this group of people to buy instead of renting their flats. While the new scheme acted as a hedge against inflation, it provided financial security to homeowners. Later, the people were allowed to use their Central Provident Fund money for down payments. These efforts were, however, not successful enough in convincing the people living in the squatter settlements to move into these flats. It was only later, after the Bukit Ho Swee Fire in 1961, that the HDB's efficiency and earnestness won the people over.

An HDB paper estimated that in 1966, 300,000 people lived in squatter settlements in the suburbs and 250,000 lived in squalid shophouses in the Central Area.[3] From 1960 to 1969, an average of 147,000 housing units—80,000 from the current deficit, 20,000 due to the redevelopment of the Central Area, and 47,000 due to population increase—would need to be constructed, or an average of about 14,000 a year. However, the private sector only had the ability to provide 2,500 per year, and at price levels out of reach of the low-income population.[3] As many as 51,031 housing units were built between 1960 and 1965 by the HDB.[4] Due to land constraints, high-rise and high-density flats were chosen.

The HDB's policies were largely in line with the manifesto set out by the Singaporean government - to promote social cohesion and patriotism in the new nation. In 1968, citizens were allowed to use their pension fund (Central Provident Fund) to purchase and own the homes they were renting. This gave them a stake in the country and an incentive to work hard. In 1989, the Ethnic Integration Policy (EIP) was introduced to promote racial integration. To prevent social stratification that may lead to conflict, different income groups were mixed together in the allocation of flats within the estates and new towns.

In the 1990s, the HDB concentrated on upgrading existing older flats, installing new facilities such as lifts that stop on every floor. Studio apartments were specially built to suit the needs of senior citizens in Singapore's ageing society.

On 1 July 2003, the Building & Development Division of HDB was corporatised to form HDB Corporation Pte. Ltd. (HDBCorp). HDBCorp was later renamed Surbana Corporation Pte. Ltd. HDB's headquarters was moved from Bukit Merah to its new premises at the HDB Hub at 480 Lorong 6 Toa Payoh on 10 June 2002.

The existing Bukit Merah premises, known as Surbana One, became the headquarters for Surbana Corporation Pte. Ltd.

In 2011, HDB's chief executive officer, Dr Cheong Koon Hean, unveiled a 'Roadmap to Better Living in HDB Towns' to guide the development of well-designed, sustainable and community-centric towns.[5]

Housing finance[edit]

HDB take loans from the government for the construction of public housing and in turn provide mortgage loans to citizens to purchase the flats. The Home Ownership for the People program was launched in 1964, but mass adoption only took off in 1968 with amendments to Central Provident Fund that enable its use for the payments of the monthly mortgages to HDB. [6]

HDB Staff Union[edit]

HDB employees are organised under a house union, HDB Staff Union (HDBSU).[7] The union is an affiliate of the National Trades Union Congress.


New flats programmes[edit]

HDB new flats programmes
Programmes Abbrev Start End Remarks
Registration for Flat RFS 1980s Feb 2002 Any surplus units from BTOs, balance BEs or
HDB buy-back schemes through balloting method
Walk In Selection WIS Mar 2002 Feb 2007
Mthly/Qtrly/Hyrly/Balance Sale E-Sale Apr 2007 -
Balloting Exercise BE Aug 1995 - Only available for initial large surplus units of SERS
Build-To-Order (HDB) BTO Apr 2001 - Buying a new flat with a waiting period of 4 years
Design, Build and Sell Scheme DBSS Oct 2006 - Buying a new condominium design flat built by private developer

Upgrading programmes[edit]

HDB Upgrading programmes
Programmes Abbrev Start End Remarks
Main Upgrading Programme MUP Jul 1990 Apr 2011 Interior upgrading programmes for flats built up to 1986, and
HIP which have not undergone MUP, with added optional improvements. The HIP has since been extended to flats built up to 1997. In addition, flats will have a second upgrade under HIP II.[8]
Home Improvement Programme HIP Aug 2007 -
Home Improvement Programme II HIP Aug 2018 -
Interim Upgrading Programme IUP Aug 1993 Aug 2002 The common areas of a precinct were upgraded, landscape upgrading programmes stopped in flavour of IUP Plus
Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme SERS Aug 1995 - Launched in August 1995 to renew old housing estates in Singapore. Offers flat owners a unique opportunity to move to a new home near their existing estate.[9]
Voluntary Early Redevelopment Scheme VERS Aug 2018 - Announced during the 2018 National Day Rally, VERS allows flat owners to vote on early redevelopment of housing blocks.[10]
Lift Upgrading Programme LUP Sep 2001 Feb 2018 Direct level access to lift for flats.
Interim Upgrading Programme Plus IUP Plus May 2002 Dec 2014
Neighbourhood Renewal Programme NRP Aug 2007 - This would include MUP/HIP (interior) and IUP Plus (landscape) as it focuses on block and neighbourhood improvements

See also[edit]


  1. ^ HDB Quality Living - Sample Housing Survey
  2. ^ "Singapore Resident Households by dwellings". Retrieved 15 February 2015.
  3. ^ a b Yuen, Belinda (November 2007). "Squatters no more: Singapore social housing". Global Urban Development Magazine. 3 (1).
  4. ^ "The Housing and Development Board is established". historySG. National Library Board.
  5. ^ Eco-Business. "HDB unveils roadmap to guide in its vision for liveable towns". Eco-Business. Retrieved 27 March 2020.
  6. ^ Lim Kim San: A Builder of Singapore. 2009. ISBN 978-9812309280.
  7. ^ "Housing & Development Board | Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP)". www.tafep.sg. Retrieved 8 March 2016.
  8. ^ "National Day Rally 2018: All HDB flats will be upgraded twice under expanded Home Improvement Programme". The Straits Times. 19 August 2018. Retrieved 13 June 2019.
  9. ^ "SERS". www.hdb.gov.sg. HDB InfoWEB. The Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS) renews our older housing estates. If you are a SERS resident, you will get the opportunity to move to a new home with a new 99-year lease, and continue living close to your current neighbours. SERS flat owners will also be given a package comprising compensation and rehousing benefits.
  10. ^ "National Day Rally 2018: Owners of old HDB flats can vote to let Govt buy back flats early, get new ones with proceeds". The Straits Times. 19 August 2018. Retrieved 13 June 2019.

External links[edit]