Spotlight: Single parents & Housing

Single parents face serious difficulties accessing public housing. From unrealistic income ceilings to a lack of transparency and clarity in policies, their families can experience stress, uncertainty and financial pressure, overcrowding and tension in relatives’ homes, and frustration with poorly explained and uncertain processes. Learn more about the findings from our latest report here

Some of these barriers and challenges are illustrated in comic form as part of a collaboration done with four local artists. Thanks to talented artists Clogtwo, Inkten, Weng Pixin and Neo Ann Gee.



Read 'Homes' Read 'Under My Wings' Read 'Looking For Home' Read 'Houses & Homes'

5 big challenges for single parents

1. Housing

Unmarried parents can only purchase HDB flats at age 35, and they are only eligible for subsidies on two-room flats in non-mature estates.  Meanwhile, divorced parents are barred from renting from HDB for 30 months after selling the matrimonial flat, limiting their rental options to expensive open market flats.  When they can again rent directly from HDB, they struggle to provide for their families while remaining under the highly restrictive $1,500 income ceiling.

Read Xin Hui’s story

2. Employment

Single parents are frequently sole breadwinners too.  Many divorced parents with care and control of the children are women who left employment while married to meet the care needs of their families, sometimes negatively affecting their confidence and their skills.  Returning to the job market is a challenge in a society where too many disregard caregiving as work experience and are suspicious of single parents.

Watch Ashikin’s story

3. Childcare

The challenges of parenting are intensified when only one parent is consistently at hand for every trip to school, home-cooked meal or doctor’s visit.  Finding reliable, affordable childcare is a major difficulty for single parents, but essential if they are to find and keep employment.

Read Ms. Chuang’s story

4. Poverty

Struggling with employment, childcare and housing, many single parents find it hard to make ends meet, let alone build up savings or improve their family’s life chances.  Divorced mother are particularly vulnerable, with little CPF or savings from years as married home-makers, and often face difficulty making repeated trips to court to enforce maintenance orders against defaulting ex-spouses.

Watch Ashikin’s story

5. Stigma

Single parents have a tough job, which society makes harder by responding to them with prejudice and stereotypes.  We deny their children equality in areas like the Baby Bonus cash gift and give them stigmatising labels like ‘illegitimate’ (which carries real disadvantages in terms of inheritance law and tax reliefs), sending the hostile message that they aren’t worth as much as others, and don’t belong.

Watch N’s storyRead Wayne’s story  |  Read Sherlin’s story