The Community Care Apartments was first launched in February 2021 in Bukit Batok. This is an addition to HDB’s range of flats and one focused on retirement living. A joint effort by MOH, MND and HDB, the new Community Care Apartments brings together affordable public housing, senior-friendly facilities and assisted living and care services into a retirement village concept. For those who believe in aging-in-place, this pilot project is Singapore’s first assisted living public housing for seniors.
A new batch of Community Care Apartments will be launched in Queenstown as part of the November 2022 BTO exercise. This project will be part of the Health District @ Queenstown and include common facilities such as roof gardens, fitness stations, and community living rooms.
Here’s what you need to know about Community Care Apartments.
#1 Community Care Apartments (CCAs) Are Move-In Ready With Built-In Senior-Friendly Designs
With the intention of being a home for seniors, the CCAs are designed to be as senior-friendly as possible with built-in wardrobes and storage to minimise trip hazards, grab bars at strategic locations including the main door and toilets. They also include wheelchair manoeuvrability such as extra-wide doors and extra space in the toilet. Features such as an easy to slide partition separating the living and bedroom spaces and a bench at the main door for putting on shoes are all carefully thought out to make life easier for the intended resident: a retiree who wants to age in place.
Unlike BTO flats, the CCAs are fully fitted and furnished with little to no need for further renovations. Aside from appliances and furniture such as a bed and sofa, the flat is in move-in condition with built-in cabinets in the kitchen and wardrobes in the bedroom.
If you opted for the optional component scheme for a 2-room Flexi BTO, you could achieve the same level of move-in readiness, but this is an add-on. Whereas for the CCA, the renovations and built-in furnishings are already included in the price of the flat.
Additionally, every CCA block will have a furnished communal space on every floor for residents to catch up with their neighbours, share meals, or engage in social activities.
#2 Residents Must Subscribe To The Basic Service Package
As part of the overall assisted living concept, the infrastructure and design of the Community Care Apartments are complemented with the service and support from the Basic Service Package.
Regardless of whether you use the service or not, all residents will have to subscribe to the Basic Service Package when you purchase a Community Care Apartment (CCA).
The basic service package will include:
- care and support services,
- simple home fixes,
- activities at the communal spaces,
- basic health checks,
- 24-hour emergency response and
- key card access to individual flats
This is to ensure residents have access to the support of an onsite community manager as well as to maintain the community aspect of the CCAs.
For the pilot launch at Bukit Batok, the estimated price of the basic service package ranges from $22,000 for 15 years to $59,000 for 35 years for full upfront payment. This breaks down to approximately $1,500 a year or $125 a month.
Additionally, residents will also enjoy access to wellness and social activities at the activity centre located within the same block, access to a community gym at Bukit Batok Care Home and priority admission to Bukit Batok Care Home.
Residents can also sign up for additional optional services:
Based on the indicative prices, these services look to be reasonably priced and on the lower end of the price range based on what is available on the market.
#3 Those Who Have Bought 2 Flats Previously From HDB Are Still Eligible
To be eligible to purchase a Community Care Apartment, you (and your co-applicants) must be aged 65 and above at the point of application.
The shortest lease allowed needs to cover you (or your youngest co-applicant) to the age of 95. This means that if you are 70 but your spouse is 65, you must chose a lease of 30 years instead of 25.
Similar to the 2-room Flexi flat, you can still apply for a short-lease 2-room flat, even if you have previously sold two flats purchased with housing subsidies, as long as you have not already purchased a Studio Apartment or short-lease 2-room Flexi flat.
As the CCA is intended to be affordable public housing, your average gross monthly household income cannot exceed $14,000 to be eligible.
#4 You Must Pay Upfront For The Flat
A departure from general housing purchase options, you must pay upfront for the cost of flat in full.
Unlike the typical housing purchase, where the mortgage is spread over the lease tenure, the Community Care Apartments is targeted at seniors who are downsizing – those who want to age at home but find their existing homes too large to manage on their own.
By paying for the CCA in full, seniors would not have to worry about future mortgage payments (or rising interest rates). Furthermore, if they had downsized from a larger home, the proceeds from the sale are likely to fully cover the cost of a CCA.
Similarly, by paying for the basic service package upfront in full, you can circumvent future fee increases. Whereas if you paid only partially upfront, the remaining monthly payment will be subject to future fee increases (capped at 5% every five years).
#5 You Can’t Sell Or Rent Out Your Community Care Apartment But You Can Buy Private Property After The Minimum Occupation Period (MOP)
As expected of HDB’s subsidised housing, you will have to sell your existing flat and/ or private property (within 6 months) of taking the keys to the Community Care Apartment.
As the Community Care Apartments are intended for seniors to stay and grow old in (and are subsidised accordingly), they cannot be sold in the resale market or rented out.
If you wish to move out of the Community Care Apartment or are no longer eligible to stay in one, you must return the flat to HDB. HDB will return you the value of the remaining lease and this will be calculated based on linear depreciation.
If you wish to purchase a new property (HDB or private property), you are subject to a 5-year minimum occupation period (MOP). For HDB flats, you will have to return your CCA as HDB does not allow you to own more than one HDB flat. For private property, you can own both your CCA and an investment private property, if you continue to stay in your CCA and only purchase the private property after MOP.
While we all want to imagine that we would live and die happily and preferably in old age and peacefully in our sleep, there is that nagging thought that we could die alone and undiscovered. The one value proposition of the Community Care Apartments is that there will be someone who cares for you, even if it is the onsite community manager who checks on you as part of his or her job. Additionally, the promised community aspect would mitigate many of the negative mental health issues that seniors face after retirement, such as depression and social isolation.
Overall, the Community Care Apartments do appear to be a viable housing option for our aging population and only time will tell if this assisted living concept will appeal to our seniors.
Cover image from HDB
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