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Almost 70% of eligible ageing HDB flats have been upgraded through home improvement scheme

Almost 70% of eligible ageing HDB flats have been upgraded through home improvement scheme

A portable ramp at an HDB flat installed as part of the EASE programme, which offers residents elderly-friendly fittings. (Photo: HDB)

SINGAPORE: About 215,000 Housing & Development Board (HDB) flats across 230 projects have been upgraded under the Home Improvement Programme (HIP) that was designed to help spruce up ageing flats. 

That is close to 70 per cent of the 320,000 flats built up to 1986 that are eligible for HIP, said HDB on Tuesday (Mar 2).

As of Dec 31, 2020, upgrading works are still under way for about 96,800 flats across 101 projects, while works for the remaining 8,200 will be “implemented progressively”, it added.

The Government has spent about S$3.2 billion on the programme as of Mar 31, 2020, said HDB.

When it was first introduced in 2007, the scheme was offered to flats built up to 1986 that had not undergone the previous Main Upgrading Programme.

It focuses on improvements within the flat, and helps owners “address common maintenance problems related to ageing flats in a systematic and comprehensive manner”, said HDB.

But the HIP can only proceed when at least 75 per cent of a block’s eligible Singapore citizen households have voted in favour of it.

Under the scheme, there are three main components of work.

Essential improvements - fully paid for by the Government - include the repair of spalling concrete, replacement of waste or soil discharge stacks and upgrading of electrical loads.

Beyond that, optional works, which residents must partially pay for, include toilet upgrading packages, new decorative doors and metal grille gates.

MORE THAN 234,000 HOUSEHOLDS APPLIED FOR SENIOR-FRIENDLY FITTINGS

The third component, the Enhancement for Active Seniors (EASE) programme, was introduced in 2012 to offer elderly-friendly fittings such as grab bars, ramps and slip-resistant floor treatments.

Residents who do not want to wait for HIP, or who live in blocks that do not qualify for it, can also directly apply for EASE.

READ: More residents satisfied with flats, neighbourhood and estate facilities - HDB survey

WATCH: HDB home improvement schemes help seniors moves with ease

Over the years, EASE has been expanded, with a lower qualifying age for direct applicants and more elements on offer – such as ramp solutions, which were introduced in 2018.

As of Dec 31, 2020, more than 234,000 households have applied for it.

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

In particular, following the inclusion of ramp solutions for flats with multi-step entrances, more than 1,770 homes have had them installed.

HDB added that as of Mar 31, 2020, the Government has spent about S$90 million on EASE.

NEW BATCH OF HIP FLATS

In August 2018, it was announced that the programme would be extended to another 230,000 flats built between 1987 and 1997.

HDB said about 56,000 units have been selected in the first batch of precincts under this extended programme.

The package of improvement items for the extended HIP includes a wider range of items that come in “more contemporary designs and are of better quality”, such as the main entrance door and gate, and fittings for the toilet, HDB said.

Source: CNA/jt(gs)

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