$1.9b spent on sprucing up ageing HDB flats

Jurong West resident Chew Ang Moh, whose house underwent the Home Improvement Programme in August, said the new anti-slip tiles and grab bars in his toilet has given him more confidence to move on his own in the shower.
Jurong West resident Chew Ang Moh, whose house underwent the Home Improvement Programme in August, said the new anti-slip tiles and grab bars in his toilet has given him more confidence to move on his own in the shower.PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

This is up from $1.47b in the previous year; another $40m spent on elderly-friendly fittings, up from $30m

More money has gone into helping Housing Board residents spruce up their ageing flats and make them more elderly friendly.

As of March, the Government has spent about $1.93 billion on the HDB's Home Improvement Programme (HIP) and $40 million on the Enhancement for Active Seniors (Ease) initiative, up from $1.47 billion and $30 million respectively in March last year.

HIP was introduced in 2007 to address common maintenance problems related to ageing flats, such as spalling concrete and the replacement of pipe sockets with new laundry drying racks. These "essentials" are paid for by the Government.

So far, some 101,000 flats have had HIP works completed since the programme was launched. Works are in progress for another 139,400 homes. The remaining eligible flats will be selected by the end of next year and, by the end of the programme, more than 300,000 flats would have benefited.

Optional HIP components include those under the Ease programme and improvements such as toilet upgrades and a new front entrance gate.

The Government subsidises up to 95 per cent of the cost of these for Singaporean households. Only flats built up to 1986 that have not undergone the Main Upgrading Programme are eligible for HIP. Works proceed when at least 75 per cent of a block's eligible households have voted in favour of it.

A NEW FEEL

Ours was a squat toilet, and now I have a proper toilet bowl... It is almost as if I have a new house.

JURONG WEST RESIDENT CHAN WING CHING, on the upgrading works at her more than 30-year-old flat.

The Ease scheme was launched in July 2012 and allows HDB home owners to equip their flats with elderly-friendly fittings such as grab bars, slip-resistant tiles and ramps.

The HDB said some 52,000 households have applied for Ease directly, while another 97,000 opted for it through HIP.

Citizen households with a family member aged 65 and above qualify for Ease. They also qualify if a member is aged between 60 and 64 but needs help with at least one of six activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing or feeding.

For Jurong West HDB resident Chew Ang Moh, a 70-year-old retired driver, his home went through HIP in August. It was also eligible for Ease.

Mr Chew said the anti-slip tiles and grab bars he got for this toilet gave him more confidence to move on his own in the shower.

Another Jurong West resident, retired factory worker Chan Wing Ching, 65, said her home may be more than 30 years old but it received a new lease of life with HIP.

Last month, her flat was "transformed" and had its tiles, toilet, grille gate and door replaced, among other things.

"Ours was a squat toilet and now I have a proper toilet bowl," she said. "It is almost as if I have a new house."

The cherry on top? She spent about $600 - only 5 per cent of the total cost. The rest was borne by the HDB, as part of HIP.

"At this price, I find it very worth it," she said with a laugh.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 31, 2017, with the headline '$1.9b spent on sprucing up ageing HDB flats'. Print Edition | Subscribe