Singapore Improvement Trust

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Housing built by SIT, at Tiong Bahru, Singapore.
The same group of housing, from a bird's eye view.

The Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) was a government organisation set up in 1927 by the British colonial government in Singapore (then the Straits Settlements) in response to the housing needs of the population of Singapore.[1] At the time, many people resided in overcrowded shophouses and squatter settlements, resulting in widespread disease and lack of hygiene and sanitation. Often, over 200 people would live in one shophouse. That also generated massive civil unrest and crime.

The SIT was formed with the recruitment of Captain Edwin Percy Richards as deputy chairman. The SIT was composed of professional architects and general contractors to resolve this large social problem, with the ultimate goal of building affordable public housing for the common population of Singapore.


The SIT was formally established by the Singapore Improvement Ordinance, 1927. The purpose of the ordinance (signed into law on 1 July 1927), was "to provide for the Improvement of the Town and Island of Singapore". The Ordinance was applied to both the town and island of Singapore except for areas occupied by the British military.[2]


One of its earliest projects was the Tiong Bahru housing estate, which is regarded as the first public housing estate of Singapore. However, SIT managed to build 23,000 housing units in 32 years, unable to find an effective solution to the lack of housing as the population grew faster than it built housing units.

Singapore's first satellite new town, Queenstown, was initiated by SIT in the 1950s but was mainly developed later by the HDB.[3]


  1. ^ "Singapore Improvement". The Straits Times. 11 August 1925. p. 11. Retrieved 13 July 2011.
  2. ^ Fraser, James M. (April 1952). "Town Planning and Housing in Singapore". The Town Planning Review. Liverpool University Press. 23 (1): 5–25. JSTOR 40102143.
  3. ^ Chew, Valerie. "Public housing in Singapore". National Library Board Singapore. Archived from the original on 9 November 2011. Retrieved 13 July 2011.