On Thursday, in Minister Chan Chun Sing’s sharp rebuke to SDP Head Chee Soon Juan, he repeated the government’s claim that families earning $1,000 per month can afford a HDB.

He said: “Singaporean families earning $1,000 a month can indeed afford their own flats because of various housing grants,” Mr Chan said in a letter to the local press. “As a result, the lowest 20th percentile of households have an average net home equity of $200,000. That is an achievement no other nation in the world can boast of.”

Assuming that a low income family purchases a new two-room HDB flats after factoring in government grants, the home buyer will also be entitled to housing grants of up to $60,000. If the average selling price of a two room is $100,000, the nett selling price would be $40,000 after discount and the monthly mortgage payment can be fully covered by the buyer’s CPF contribution.

Unfortunately, Chan Chun Sing fail to see why Singaporeans are reacting with incredulity. After using one’s CPF funds for housing, how much is left for ones retirement in old age? Does the government expect home owners to sell their owns in order to have retirement adequacy? Fact of the matter is, with a $1,000 per month salary, how much is left for one’s daily expenses if a big portion is used to offset a home purchase?

So the question is not whether a low income individual is able to buy a flat but whether they can afford it while still maintaining a basic standard of living, without exhausting their already scarce resources on a house.

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