Foreign worker housing at full capacity, with situation unlikely to ease soon


SINGAPORE – When construction activity rebounded to almost pre-pandemic levels in 2022, many firms began to hire in earnest once more, but soon ran into a problem: where to house all their workers.

Any unoccupied spots in the Republic’s stock of 256,000 beds in purpose-built dormitories (PBDs) were quickly snapped up, and rental rates began to climb. The Straits Times reported in January that companies which had to renew their workers’ tenancy agreements paid premiums of 30 per cent or more.

This came as sky-high rents for Housing Board flats prompted some employers of employment pass and Malaysian work permit holders to move their workers to PBDs, further fuelling bed demand, according to dorm operators.