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Public Housing in Singapore

Mum and Yanna with new HDBs in the backdrop

I am impressed with Singapore’s public housing given its area size of 694 square kilometers, just larger than Metro Manila, and yet is able to squeeze in a population of nearly 5 million.  The country is the third most densely populated country (7,315 per square kilometer) in the world.

The Housing and Development Board (HDB), a statutory board of the Ministry of National Development is responsible for the country’s public shelters.  The HDB is not only providing this basic need but also in the process managing population decongestion.  I can only imagine a thickly populated state to be packed like sardines.  Yet from a perspective of living on it, it is surprisingly spacious and breathable.  The HDB buildings or HDBs for short, are typically planned with enough ventilation and adequate support for basic services.  Each area would also have a void deck that serve as function area for occasions, a park with play area and exercise facilities and sufficient greenery.

Kids have variety of choices to play with in the park

Modern playground

Exercise area is a common amenity on the HDB blocks

I can only sigh in frustration why the Philippines has not even achieved any effective housing program.  Although the Philippines priority is the less privileged, among these, I have not heard of anything in recent years other than giving land title to some lucky ones.  The BLISS program of former First Lady Imelda Marcos in 70s-80s seemed to have been more publicized and yet it seemed to have only benefited the middle class and not those it was intended for.  Luckily, there is the Gawad Kalinga, a non-governmental organization, whose mission is to end poverty to 5 million poor families by 2024.  Although its aim is to build sustainable communities, its visible achievement is uplifting human dignity with a decent housing.  Thank goodness for this. I knew there has to be hope somewhere else.

Categories: Living In Singapore
  1. August 13, 2011 at 11:42 pm

    I also wonder why our country can’t do that..Mas mabuti pa ung NGo atleast they come up with something very beneficial for the poor..Hope Pnoy would also look into this…

    • pinoyleonardo
      August 14, 2011 at 5:41 pm

      You said it right John 😉 I’ll talk about Gawad Kalinga in my future post. It is interesting to note how they talk very precisely on their goal of helping 5 million people get out of poverty by 2024- I think that should be how the President should work in helping the poor.

  2. August 14, 2011 at 1:50 am

    Recently, our city has been improving their parks. They’ve added excise equipment similar to what your pictures show. I think it’s FABULOUS! Gyms are so expensive and why not have some exercise equipment for the moms and dads taking their kids to play. Instead of sitting and reading a book, they can now hop on a piece of equipment, move, while watching the kids.

    Question- do they maintain it well? I fear the weather might cause the stepping/sliding mechanisims to become difficult to move.

    As for the housing dilema, the HDB’s look impressive. Hopefully, other countries facing the same population issues, will consider Singapore an example to follow.

    Lake Forest, CA USA

    • pinoyleonardo
      August 14, 2011 at 5:39 pm

      Hi Sandi- I was about to mention that this is a good model for housing program in developing countries- but I guess not. I’ll feature “Gawad Kalinga” another time- which I mentioend in this post. I think that might suit the needs of developing nations as there needs also some work on community development.

  3. Rey
    August 14, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    How does other developing countries’ public housing program compare to the Philippines and Singapore, I wonder? It might be interesting to see what they are doing to improve the plight of their constituents. I know that thiis is probably out of scope of your article. Just curious.

    Anyway, you did a good job of presenting Singapore’s public housing and comparing it with the Philippines housng program. Interesting article!
    Visit an experimental article:

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