$1.5m more to support HDB ground-up projects as pandemic highlights their importance

An event held by Kampung Kakis, a community incubator space and one of the ground-up projects that came out of the HDB's Lively Places Challenge. PHOTO: KAMPUNG KAKIS/INSTAGRAM

SINGAPORE - An obstacle course for pets in Bukit Panjang. A hub in Toa Payoh with an indoor hydroponics system and an art gallery. A calendar featuring recipes of 12 dishes such as Korean fried chicken, nasi goreng and chapati.

These are examples of what Housing Board residents came up with in 2020 to liven up their neighbourhoods, where life had to go on despite the pandemic.

About 650 people started 60 projects in eight HDB towns last year, taking ownership of their environment through HDB's Lively Places Challenge, an initiative started in 2016.

It was begun to support HDB ground-up projects, and will get another $1.5 million for the next few years.

National Development Minister Desmond Lee made the announcement on Saturday (July 24), recognising that community projects are more important now that people have been forced to stay home more.

"Your neighbour may need to carry out renovations while you are taking important work meetings at home, or your family may be affected by second-hand smoke," he said. "Ultimately, good neighbourliness and strong communities are still the most critical ingredients to help residents overcome disagreements and find common ground."

One of the winning projects, Kampung Kakis, is a community incubator space designed by a team led by Toa Payoh resident Xavier Toh, 42, a commodities trader.

His team created a space for greening and art and craft activities at the void deck of Block 158 Toa Payoh Lorong 1. It incorporates an indoor hydroponics system which has to date yielded 220kg of vegetables.

The space also has food vending machines that dispense rice and biscuits for the less privileged and the team reached out to pre-schools nearby to showcase students' art works at the space's art gallery.

Mr Toh said of his experience: "Some of the challenges we faced include contractors dropping out along the way during last year's circuit breaker period. As volunteers, we had to juggle between our day jobs and time spent on this project."

HDB said that since 2016, more than $800,000 have been committed to more than 170 such community projects. Mr Lee hopes these will continue sprouting up in HDB towns across the island.

He was speaking at the launch of the HDB Community Week, held virtually for the first time. During the event, which runs till Aug 1, HDB will exhibit community projects that it has helped fund. There will also be virtual workshops that teach activities like origami and do-it-yourself home repairs.

An artist's impression of the art installation. The actual artworks can be viewed on the HDB InfoWEB. PHOTO: HDB/WEBSITE

More than 700 HDB volunteers were commended for their efforts at the launch, receiving awards and certificates of appreciation.

Some - including Madam Tan Ha Eng, 73, a Punggol resident who leads trail walks for students and seniors - had worked with HDB to co-create an e-resource kit to guide the public in exploring HDB towns on their own.

This can be downloaded for free from the HDB InfoWEB.

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