Commonwealth was the first precinct in Singapore which launched HDB’s “Home Ownership for the People” scheme. The scheme was introduced in February 1964 by then Minister for National Development, Lim Kim San, to encourage a “property-owning democracy” in Singapore and enable Singaporeans in the lower middle-income group to purchase their own homes and “a stake in the country.”
Private ownership serves two significant purposes in nation building. Firstly, locally born citizens, with a place to call their own, will identify and possess a greater sense of belonging. Secondly, a lease ownership ties the household into a regular mortgage structure that requires monthly payments. Regular payments can be met only by regular monthly income earned from the formal sector of the economy, effectively transforming a workforce into a regular and disciplined one needed for industralization. The availability of such workforce attracts MNCs and FDI into Singapore.
The scheme was piloted in Commonwealth where 2,068 two and three-room apartments were made available on 99-year leases. The success of Singapore’s public housing where 82% of Singaporeans reside in HDB apartments and 81% of the population own their homes today can be attributed to the “Home Ownership” scheme.