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File:HDB Hub, Aug 06.JPG

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; Lembaga Pembangunan dan Perumahan; 建屋发展局; Jiànwū Fāzhǎn Jú; வீடமைப்பு வளர்ச்சிக் கழகம்) is the statutory board of the Ministry of National Development responsible for public housing in Singapore. It is generally credited with clearing the squatters and slums of the 1960s and resettling residents into low-cost state-built housing.[1] Today, as many as 82% of Singaporeans live in public housing provided by the HDB.[2]


Shortly after achieving self-governance in 1959, Singapore faced a serious problem of housing shortages; low construction rates and massive damage from World War II further exacerbated the prewar housing shortage. In 1947, the British Housing Committee Report noted Singapore had "one of the world’s worst slums -- 'a disgrace to a civilised community'", and the average person-per-building density was 18.2 by 1947. High-rise buildings were also rare. In 1959, the shortage problem remained. 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] In its election campaign in 1959, the People's Action Party (PAP) recognized that housing required urgent attention and pledged to provide low-cost housing for the poor if it was elected. When it won the elections and formed the newly elected government, it took immediate action to solve the housing shortage. The government passed the Housing & Development Act of 1960, which replaced the existing Singapore Improvement Trust with the Housing & Development Board.

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 by the low-income group. The Home Ownership for the People Scheme was also introduced to help this group of people to buy instead of rent 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.

The HDB estimated that 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: the government was promoting social cohesion and patriotism within the country. In 1968, citizens were allowed to use their pension fund (Central Provident Fund) to purchase and own the homes they were renting to give them a stake of the country and as 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 social conflict, the housing of different income groups is mixed together in 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 were 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.


HDB employees are organised under a house union, HDB Staff Union (HDBSU). [5]The union is an affiliate of the National Trades Union Congress.


New flats programmes[]

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[]

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
Home Improvement Programme HIP Aug 2007 -
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.[6]
Lift Upgrading Programme LUP Sep 2001 Dec 2014 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 focus on block and neighbourhood improvements

See also[]


  1. HDB Quality Living - Sample Housing Survey
  2. Template:Cite web
  3. 3.0 3.1 Template:Cite journal
  4. Template:Cite web
  5. Template:Cite web
  6. Template:Cite web

External links[]

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