SINGAPORE - All Housing Board flats can expect to be upgraded twice during their 99-year lifespan under the newly-expanded Home Improvement Programme (HIP), as part of the Government's public housing redevelopment initiative.
In a nutshell, all flats will be upgraded when they reach about 30 years of age, and again when they are about 60 to 70 years old.
The HIP, which was introduced in 2007, will be expanded to another 230,000 flats built between 1987 and 1997 when the flats are about 30 years old, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in his National Day Rally speech in English on Sunday (Aug 19).
This is on top of about 320,000 flats built up to 1986 that have not undergone the Main Upgrading Programme (MUP), but that are already eligible for upgrading under HIP. MUP was launched in the 1990s and completed in 2011.
"We launched the HIP 10 years ago. The final batch of HIP flats will be announced by next year. So within a few years, all flats eligible for HIP will have been balloted, passed, executed and upgraded. That means altogether 450,000 flats upgraded under MUP plus HIP," PM Lee said.
The first round of upgrading which includes flats built up to 1997 will start soon, PM Lee said, adding: "Pasir Ris will get HIP, and so will Yishun, Tampines, Jurong and several other estates."
Further, once the flats reach 60 to 70 years of age, they will be eligible for upgrading a second time. This second round is expected to start in about 10 years' time.
The Government pays up to 95 per cent of the upgrading cost, so residents pay as little as a few hundred dollars for the upgrading.
"The first HIP will cost the Government more than $4 billion. HIP II will probably cost even more, because the flats will be twice as old by then. But it is well justified and we will do it as long as MOF (Finance Ministry) has the money," PM Lee said.
An essential upgrade, HIP fixes maintenance problems, including spalling concrete, ceiling leaks and damaged pipes.
"We upgrade the electrical supply too... because more families have air-conditioners, washing machines, computers and now, personal mobility devices (PMDs) needing to be charged," PM Lee said.
"Not surprising that after upgrading, the flat value usually goes up," PM Lee said.
He added that after the first round of upgrading, the flats should be good for another 30 to 40 years. The second round will be done at about the 60 to 70-year mark.
"We are determined not to let our public housing degenerate into ragged squalid slums, which has happened in many other cities," PM Lee said.
HIP II will "keep the flats safe and liveable, and also help them retain their value as their leases run down. It should see the flats through to the end of their leases," he said.