Housing and Development Board flats at Outram Park

The first public housing estates in Singapore were built in the 1930s by the Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT). However, such housing projects were on a small scale and could not meet the growing demand for housing, which grew rapidly after the population boom that followed the end of the Second World War. In 1960, the Housing and Development Board (HDB) was formed to replace the SIT and it was tasked with building and managing low-cost public housing for the lower-income groups. The HDB tackled the housing problem by redeveloping urban and rural areas and resettling, sometimes forcefully, people into new housing estates. The government tried to encourage citizens to own their HDB flats by introducing the Home Ownership for the People Scheme in 1964, and allowing people to tap into the Central Provident Fund to finance part of their home purchases. By 2008, more than 80 per cent of Singapore’s residential population lived in HDB estates.The Outram Park housing estate was built by the HDB in 1969 along Outram Road at the site of the Outram Prison (formally known as His/Her Majesty’s Gaol), which was demolished to make way for the project. Officially opened in 1970 by then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, the estate comprised of eight blocks of flats with shops, offices and eateries located on the first two floors of each block. It was at the time the largest housing project undertaken by the HDB.