Let’s Get Real; Are There Slums In Singapore?


Last Updated on 13/06/2023 by Singapore You

Singapore, a country with a population of 5.4 million living on 724.2 square kilometres of land, may raise questions about the existence of slums.

The majority of households in Singapore consist of two people and 16% of residences are made up of one-person households, according to HDB statistics. Although there are no slums in Singapore as we know them, this does not imply that the lower-class people live comfortably.

Singapore had one of the worst slums in the world in 1947, according to a report by the British colonial government’s Housing Committee.

However, Singapore has no official poverty line, and its poverty level and the presence of slums would seem insignificant when compared to other Southeast Asian countries, according to the “Squatters No More: Singapore Social Housing” report.

Although there may not be many housing loan options for the poor in Singapore, public housing has been affordable and has effectively eliminated slums in the present day.

The Lack Of Housing At The End Of World War II

During the end of World War II, the housing crisis in Singapore was aggravated by the arrival of refugees fleeing the violence of the Malayan Emergency.

As a result, predominantly ethnic Chinese individuals were relocated to the southern regions of the island against their will. A glimpse of the residential state in the 1960s can be obtained by visiting Singapore’s Chinatown.

The Chinatown Heritage Centre features a visual and sound presentation of how over 500,000 Chinese people resided in slum-like conditions during that period. For a more comprehensive understanding of homelessness in the country, some of Singapore’s best museums offer visual exhibits from that time.

The National Museum, in particular, has significant displays illustrating the island’s transformation from having squatter settlements to the present-day conditions that allow for property ownership.

Migrant Workers’ Living Conditions

In 2012, Singapore was revealed to have hidden slums where up to 40 migrant workers lived in a single, cramped dormitory-like room with squalid conditions. Journalists who uncovered this situation were horrified by what they found.

However, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) took action by demanding that employers provide better living conditions and adequate housing for their workers.

Co-living spaces that romanticize room or house-sharing could obscure the existence of slums, particularly in the case of migrant workers. Although pockets of poverty and squalor may still exist, Singapore appears to have effectively concealed them from public view.


The Best Of HDB Housing Projects

Singapore’s current HDB BTO flats exemplify the significant improvement in the country’s housing projects. Residents can now have a more fulfilling experience as their basic need for shelter is met, with the thriving HDB renovation service industry.

The Home Ownership Scheme was established by the HDB in 1966, offering a 99-year lease to help individuals purchase their own flats and become homeowners. As a result of progress and prosperity, shophouses’ once squalid and cramped conditions have been transformed into polished and upgraded living spaces.

To gain a more comprehensive understanding of the experience of living in a shophouse in Singapore today, you can refer to our insightful Figment Singapore review.