More funds for livening up HDB spaces

Above: Ministers K. Shanmugam and Lawrence Wong pose for a photo with Madam Su Ye Chu, 91, at the opening of Yishun Town Square yesterday. Left: Mr Lee Aik Lam conducts Lego art workshops for children and parents at a flexible workshop space at Block
Above: Mr Lee Aik Lam conducts Lego art workshops for children and parents at a flexible workshop space at Block 336 Tah Ching Road.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
Above: Ministers K. Shanmugam and Lawrence Wong pose for a photo with Madam Su Ye Chu, 91, at the opening of Yishun Town Square yesterday. Left: Mr Lee Aik Lam conducts Lego art workshops for children and parents at a flexible workshop space at Block
Above: Ministers K. Shanmugam and Lawrence Wong pose for a photo with Madam Su Ye Chu, 91, at the opening of Yishun Town Square yesterday. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Residents with ideas for community projects can apply for grant of up to $20k

From a brick art corner at Taman Jurong with Lego-inspired furniture to a sky garden in Punggol for residents to learn how to grow food, people have been coming up with creative ideas to liven up common areas in Housing Board estates to encourage bonding.

Now residents can apply for a grant of up to $20,000 for their projects, up from the current $10,000, as part of the HDB Friendly Faces, Lively Places fund which was launched in 2016.

National Development Minister Lawrence Wong, who made the announcement yesterday at the start of HDB's Community Week, said: "With more funding, I hope residents can plan larger-scale and more impactful community projects."

Speaking at the newly opened Yishun Town Square, he said the fund will also be extended to HDB Merchants Associations to "enliven HDB spaces near their businesses".

Giving an update, he said that the fund has approved 50 applications for ground-up projects islandwide. So far, 38 projects, reaching out to some 8,600 residents across housing estates, have been completed,

About $120,000 has been given out or set aside for the approved projects. Residents themselves have contributed more than $177,000 worth of resources, including hours spent volunteering, professional services, equipment and supplies.

Among the residents who have participated in the programme are Mr Lee Aik Lam, who has been conducting Lego art workshops, and Ms Chloe Ang and Mr Lee Choon Long, who organised an a "make your own cereal mix" activity to meet their neighbours.

Ms Ang, 28, an executive in the transport industry, and her husband, a 30-year-old senior engineer, had just moved into the Canberra estate.

So they planned the activity at the estate's roof garden, got $600 from HDB to fund it, then went knocking on doors and put up posters. In the end, 65 people attended the event in January.

"We really just wanted to get to know the people in the estate, connect the names in our block's WhatsApp and Facebook groups to their faces," said Ms Ang.

Mr Lee Aik Lam, a Taman Jurong resident, in turn, has been conducting Lego art workshops for children and parents at Block 336 Tah Ching Road, a flexible workshop space that was completed in March.

The 56-year-old, who conducts Lego robotics lessons in schools, received more than $9,000 in funding from HDB for his project, which has drawn 10 parent volunteers and 200 participants.

More than 100 Lego art pieces are on display in colourful cabinets at the space.

"I want to inspire kids to imagine and create," he said.

Mr Wong said close-knit communities "do not happen by chance".

"Ultimately, the key ingredient is the residents, the people who live in the community. All of you play a crucial role in enlivening the common spaces, and forging that community spirit in our estates," the minister said.

He added that at shared spaces like civic plazas, void decks and playgrounds, residents can get to know each other better.

Mr Wong said that in the last decade, Yishun been transformed into a town with new amenities, which include the Yishun Pond Park and Khoo Teck Puat Hospital.

The sprucing-up is part of HDB's Remaking Our Heartland programme, said Mr Wong.

The new Yishun Town Square - the third new-generation town plaza in Singapore after two others in Bedok and Punggol - makes it easier for residents to visit nearby shops, gather and take part in activities.

Next year, Yishun residents will also have an integrated transport hub, with an air-conditioned bus interchange linked to Yishun MRT station via an underpass.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 20, 2018, with the headline 'More funds for livening up HDB spaces'. Print Edition | Subscribe