Coronavirus pandemic

Duo start initiative to help rental flat families

Mr David Hoe and Ms Francesca Wah are behind Project Stable Staples, which has been supporting 1,287 people from 266 households in Housing Board rental blocks since last month. PHOTOS: COURTESY OF DAVID HOE, FRANCESCA WAH

Good friends David Hoe and Francesca Wah both experienced hardship growing up, so they are more than ready to help families hit hard by the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

They created Project Stable Staples, an initiative that has been supporting 1,287 individuals from 266 households in Housing Board rental blocks since last month.

It involves giving every member of an eligible household $10 worth of FairPrice vouchers every fortnight for three months.

Mr Hoe, 33, and Ms Wah, 28, both civil servants, have put in $10,000 for the project and gathered a core team of seven volunteers. Fund-raising efforts on the project's website, Facebook and Instagram have collected around $110,000 so far, all of which is used to buy vouchers, said Ms Wah.

The cost of envelopes and postage is covered under the Singapore Strong Fund, set up in February by philanthropic organisation The Majurity Trust to support community initiatives to help those affected by the outbreak.

The initiative, in partnership with non-profit organisation Bringing Love to Every Single Soul, hopes to raise $150,000 to support a total of 2,500 individuals.

With the assistance from social service agencies, Project Stable Staples identifies residents who need help. But with limited funds, it gives priority to families experiencing a loss of income from part-time jobs.

These families must also have at least two children, or at least one child and one elderly member, or two seniors who are supported by the breadwinners.

A 32-year-old Boon Lay resident, who declined to be named, said: "I work part-time as a make-up artist. Now, with all the weddings cancelled, I have no work and hence no income. These FairPrice vouchers mean a lot to my family of four."

Mr Hoe, explaining why he took part in setting up Project Stable Staples, said: "When I was younger, I didn't have much and one of my mentors gave me $50. I sheepishly asked, 'When do I need to pay you back?'

"My mentor replied, 'Pay it forward'. Today, I live by that motto."

Ms Wah said: "No one can do everything, but everyone can do something. With our team's collective effort, we have managed to reach out to more individuals and do more."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 25, 2020, with the headline Duo start initiative to help rental flat families. Subscribe