Photo: The Straits Times

Flat owners with financial difficulties may be offered a temporary reduction or deferment of their mortgage instalments to help with their financial situation.

Minister of State for National Development Koh Poh Koon told Parliament on Wednesday that the HDB has various assistance measures to help such families. These include financial counselling and referrals to social support agencies for job placements and financial aid.

Dr Koh was responding to Ms Joan Pereira (Tanjong Pagar GRC), who had asked what kind of mortgage assistance HDB provides to the retrenched, particularly those in their late 40s and 50s.

He said: "For those who face longer-term hardship, HDB will advise them on measures such as including their working adult children as joint owners to help with the mortgage payments." Right-sizing to a flat within their means is also an option, he added.

"For low income households who are unable to afford another flat, have no family support and no other housing options, HDB may offer them a public rental flat."

When asked if HDB would consider providing financial help to flat owners who have already taken loans from banks, Dr Koh said the Housing Board is not a bank and is unable to offer personal loans. But he added that HDB can assist flat owners in restructuring their finances.

Responding to another question from Mr Pritam Singh (Aljunied GRC), Senior Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee told Parliament that the three town councils with the largest number of flats eligible for the Home Improvement Programme are Aljunied-Hougang, Jurong-Clementi and Nee Soon.

Flats built up to 1986 and that have not undergone the Main Upgrading Programme are eligible for the Home Improvement Programme.

Mr Lee said the HDB is working to complete the selection of the remaining eligible flats by the 2018 financial year.

This article first appeared in The Straits Times.