SINGAPORE – Their home buying experience would be the envy of many young couples here: Assistant engineer Wang Weiji and his wife Christina Ng not only obtained a good queue number in their first application for a new public flat, they secured their first-choice four-room flat, with an auspicious unit number.
"We couldn’t believe it," said Madam Ng, 28, a nurse. "Many friends told us they had to ballot a few times before they could get their flat."
The couple had more reason to cheer yesterday; they were picked among 709 Treelodge@Punggol homeowners, via a computer ballot, as owners of the Housing and Development Board’s one millionth flat. They were given a commemorative plaque and a hamper.
In marking the milestone, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, who is also the Member of Parliament for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, lauded HDB’s role in meeting Singaporeans’ core housing aspirations for five decades.
The HDB has moved from building a basic roof over people’s heads in the ’60s to providing quality new homes with modern amenities and even eco-friendly features today, he said.
The HDB story "is also the story of hope and social mobility" here, Mr Teo added.
"Singaporeans know that if they work hard and budget wisely, they can aspire to own their own homes and upgrade to a better flat and a better life," he said. "The Government’s commitment has been and continues to be, to provide affordable and quality housing to the masses."
In the next few days, the HDB will launch another Build-to-Order (BTO) project in Punggol, with 1,000 flats on offer – adding on to the 3,300 new BTO flats that have been launched in the vicinity so far this year.
Mr Teo said the HDB was on track to complete 35,000 flats in Punggol by 2015.
Asked if the Government is looking at more measures to help Singaporeans, with prices of public housing an issue this year, Mr Teo said: "In each era, there have always been concerns about affordability. But as you can see … (residents have) been able to afford their flats and we expect that to be so in the future."
For lower-income families, he said there was targeted help, such as the Additional Central Provident Fund Housing Grant.
The Government has also opened up executive condominiums and other opportunities for the "sandwiched class" to keep homes affordable, he added.
Having toured Treelodge@Punggol, Mr Teo was impressed with the features such as solar panels installed on roofs and light fittings which will power lighting for common areas.
Residents also have a dedicated refuse chute at each block for recyclables.
Mdm Ng, who professed she was not eco-conscious before, said she may adopt the green habit when she moves into the precinct in February. For now, she hopes there will be a shopping centre, gymnasium and day-care centres in the estate.
She may well get her wish. Last month, the HDB launched a tender for the first mixed commercial-residential site at Punggol Town Centre.
The area’s recreational coastline is also taking shape, Mr Teo told residents, with the Lorong Halus Wetland due to be completed in the next three months.