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Housing and Development Board of Singapore

Updated: Mar 22, 2020



Singapore is known for having one of the most successful approaches to public housing with around 80 percent of residents living in government-built apartments.


According to the World Bank, there are one million Housing and Development Board (HDB) apartments clustered in 23 “new towns” around the City’s core. HDB is in charge of planning and developing public housing towns, and is always in a process of continuous improvement.


The Housing & Development Act was passed in 1960, creating the Housing and Development Board as the official agency in charge of integrated planning, design, construction and maintenance of housing. Further, in 1967, the Land Acquisition Act gave the government the ability to acquire land for housing at a low cost.



Around 80 percent of Singaporeans live in a government-built apartment today, up from only 10 percent when Singapore attained its own government in 1959. What’s refreshing about the system is that roughly 90 percent of Singaporeans own their home—showing that the government is helping Singaporeans build wealth and have access to “vibrant, innovative, and sustainable communities.” Apartment designs consider many different lifestyles, including floor plans for nuclear families, singles, seniors, and multi-generational families.


Housing estates in Singapore succeeded over American housing projects due to a focus on social and economic integration, including housing options for a range of incomes and access to high quality transportation. This, in addition to incorporating spaces for social cohesion, both at the ground floor and shared corridors.


Singapore is one of the densest cities in the world, creating an environment where people embrace high-rise living. Most cities experiencing an affordable housing crisis have plenty of land, however outdated zoning and individual preferences hold back densifying residential areas. Singapore succeeds in balancing building scale while integrating high-rise areas with thoughtful green spaces.


Singapore’s HDB has received long-term and sustaining support, including annual public subsidy around S$1.2 billion. Overall, a small price for a system producing and managing so many high-quality units for the majority of the population.


Aside from ongoing planning and development, including setting quotas for high-need types of housing, HDB also invests in renewal projects including modernizing town centers, upgrading community facilities, and transportation improvements—ensuring that its town centres remain enviable places to live.


Highlights from Housing & Development Board

  • One million Housing and Development Board (HDB) apartments clustered in 23 “new towns” around Singapore’s core

  • 90 percent of Singaporeans own their home—showing that the government is helping Singaporeans build wealth

  • Singapore’s HDB has received long-term and sustaining support, including annual public subsidy around S$1.2 billion


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