Pre-1987 HDB flats mostly upgraded; 56k newer flats next in line for home improvement programme

Madam Lai Swee Lian said the customised ramp at her front door has lifted her quality of life.
Madam Lai Swee Lian said the customised ramp at her front door has lifted her quality of life.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG
Domestic helper Elok Indrawati pushes Madam Lai Swee Lian into her home via a ramp installed outside her home door, on March 1, 2021.
Domestic helper Elok Indrawati pushes Madam Lai Swee Lian into her home via a ramp installed outside her home door, on March 1, 2021.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

SINGAPORE - The majority of the 320,000 eligible flats built up to 1986 have undergone upgrading works under the Housing Board's Home Improvement Programme (HIP).

Of these, about 215,000 flats, spread across 230 projects, have completed upgrading works, while works are currently under way for about 96,800 flats, spread across 101 projects, said the HDB in an update on Tuesday (March 2).

Works on the remaining flats will be implemented progressively.

Next in line for upgrading will be a newer batch of 230,000 flats built between 1987 and 1997. The HDB also said on Tuesday that the first batch of about 56,000 units have been selected for the Extended HIP, but did not specify a time frame for the roll-out.

As at March 31, 2020, the Government has spent about $3.2 billion on HIP, which focuses on improvements within the unit to address common maintenance problems related to ageing flats.

Under this scheme, the Government bears the full costs of repairing of spalling concrete and structural cracks, replacing piping for waste or soil discharge, and upgrading the electrical load in eligible flats.

The programme can proceed only when at least 75 per cent of a block's eligible households that are made up of Singapore citizens have voted for it.

Flat owners have the option of further improvements such as upgrading their toilets, door, grill gate and refuse chute hopper. Depending on their flat type, they would pay between 5 per cent and 12.5 per cent, or between $550 and $1,375 for these upgrades.

Under the HIP, households with seniors can also opt to have a range of elderly friendly fittings such as ramps for multi-step entrances, grab bars and slip-resistant treatment to toilet floor tiles installed under the Enhancement for Active Seniors (Ease) programme.

As at Dec 31, more than 234,000 households have applied for this programme, said the HDB on Tuesday.

Of these, more than 147,700 households opted for Ease together with HIP while the remaining 86,300 households applied directly.

To be eligible for Ease, households must have elderly family members aged 65 and above, or aged between 60 to 64 and requires assistance with at least one of the activities of daily living.

Seniors who live in blocks that do not qualify for HIP can also apply for the Ease programme directly from HDB.

Residents can expect to pay between $125 to $480, depending on flat type.

As at March 31, 2020, the Government has spent about $90 million on Ease.

More than 1,770 households with multi-step entrances have been installed with ramps since it was introduced in December 2018.

Madam Lai Swee Lian, 82, who relies on a wheelchair to get around after a bad fall last June, said the customised ramp at her front door has lifted her quality of life.


Under the scheme, the Government bears the full costs of repairing of spalling concrete and structural cracks. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG


Domestic helper Elok Indrawati pushes Madam Lai Swee Lian out of the toilet via a ramp, on March 1, 2021. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

The two steps at the entrance of her four-room flat in Hougang made it "almost impossible" for her to go out of the unit, as she would have to hobble down the steps before getting into her wheelchair, she said.

But the new ramp, installed in February, solved that as her Indonesian helper Elok Indrawati, 37, can now easily wheel her out.

She said: "Last time, it took us 10 minutes to get out of the house and it was very dangerous because I had a lot of trouble going down the steps. Now, I can ask my helper to bring me to the nearby park to get some fresh air any day."