View of HDB flats in the Ghim Moh area.
The Republic’s transformation from a fishing village to a cosmopolitan city is well documented, but how much do you know about the evolution of our HDB flats? We shed some light on its history.
1) From kampong to city
As Singapore grew from a fishing village to a major seaport, so too did its population, leading to overcrowding and unhygienic living conditions. To deal with this problem, the then British colonial government set up the Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) in 1927. The SIT built Singapore’s first public housing estate in Tiong Bahru, which comprised 784 flats, 54 tenements and 33 shops.
2) From SIT to HDB
After World War II, however, the SIT was unable to keep up with the surging number of squatter settlements as the population rose to about 1.6 million. Having built only 20,907 public housing units, the SIT was dissolved and replaced with the Housing and Development Board (HDB) in 1960. Its first housing development was a cluster of mid-rise residential blocks on Stirling Road in Queenstown. Within three years of its formation, the HDB successfully developed 31,317 flats, thus well on its way to tackling Singapore’s housing crisis.
3) HDB and beyond
From its humble beginnings building basic HDB flats with proper sanitation and piped water, the Housing Board has since provided more than 80 percent of Singaporean households with affordable housing, and achieved over 90 percent homeownership rate – currently the highest in the world. More than just providing homes, the agency has revolutionised the way we live by integrating communal spaces, modern facilities and lifestyle amenities.
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