New coat of paint and repairs give low-income residents great start to Chinese New Year

Hong Kah North MP Amy Khor and grassroots leaders helping to put together a wardrobe that was donated to a low-income family, on Feb 11, 2018.
Hong Kah North MP Amy Khor and grassroots leaders helping to put together a wardrobe that was donated to a low-income family, on Feb 11, 2018.PHOTO: HONG KAH NORTH CO
Residents from the North West District and Mayor Teo Ho Pin (centre left, standing, in black) celebrating an early Chinese New Year Feast that was sponsored by coffee shop operator Kimly, on Feb 11, 2018.
Residents from the North West District and Mayor Teo Ho Pin (centre left, standing, in black) celebrating an early Chinese New Year Feast that was sponsored by coffee shop operator Kimly, on Feb 11, 2018.PHOTO: HONG KAH NORTH CO

SINGAPORE - Scrap metal collector Tan Yew Huat is looking forward to celebrating Chinese New Year - his home of more than 40 years has been spruced up for the first time.

"It is in some way like a new beginning," said Mr Tan, 59, who has lived in his Hougang four-room flat since 1977 with his two older brothers, aged 65 and 63.

Besides newly painted walls, the flat has new locks for the front door and the electrical sockets have been replaced as well.

Mr Tan is among residents from 300 low-income families whose homes will be done up for free, as part of the new A-Better-Home @ North East.

On Sunday (Feb 11), grassroots organisations, contractors, and volunteers helped spread festive cheer to the families.

For residents like Mr Tan, even simple repairs are often put off because of the cost. He and his brothers - one of them works as a bus driver and the other is unemployed - have a combined monthly income of just $1,700.

The North East district initiative involves seven contractors who have provided $350,000 in services to help these underprivileged families.

Mr Joseph Ong from OES Construction said he saw this as his chance to "give back to society".

In Woodlands, 30 Malay volunteers helped eight Chinese families and elderly residents to spring clean their homes, wiping dust off the grills of their one-room flats and scrubbing the toilet floor.

"This spring cleaning not only showcases our strong community spirit, but also sends a powerful message on our strong racial bonds," said Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs and Health Amrin Amin, an MP for Sembawang GRC.

At Hong Kah North, two families living in rental flats received new wardrobes and dinner tables, while more than 200 families also each received a bag of food items like canned food worth $30 and a $28 red packet.

The items were sponsored by property agency ERA Realty Network, which donated $43,000 to helping residents in Hong Kah North. The remaining donations will go towards the HKN SG Cares Fund, a relief fund for needy families.

"Funds like this will add to the ability for us to look out for each other, make our lives better together," said Senior Minister of State for Health and the Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor, MP for Hong Kah North.

Some 400 low-income residents from the North West District were also treated to a Chinese New Year feast on Sunday by coffee shop operator Kimly.

Executive director of Kimly Vincent Chia said: "The community has made a difference to our lives by giving us business, and we are grateful for the opportunity to make a difference to their lives by spreading festive joy during the most important festival in the Chinese calendar."