Monday, March 22, 2010

14 HDB precincts selected each year for sprucing up

AROUND 12,000 Housing Board households in older estates will be selected this year for sprucing up under the Home Improvement Programme (HIP).

A similar number of flats, or up to 14 precincts each time, will be chosen each year from now on, said National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan yesterday.

Repairs will cover spalling concrete, leaky ceilings and the replacement of waste pipes, with the costs borne fully by the Government. Optional improvements, such as the upgrading of toilets, are heavily subsidised.
The programme was first announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his National Day Rally speech in 2007. Since then, Mr Mah said, some 27 precincts have been selected for HIP, with all 12 that have been polled voting to adopt it.

The HIP will be a permanent fixture of the HDB's upgrading programmes as it complements the Neighbourhood Renewal Programme (NRP), which upgrades an estate with better facilities based on residents' feedback, he said.

Mr Mah was speaking at the completion ceremony of the first HIP precinct in Yishun Street 21, which covered nine blocks and 729 households.

He said: 'Moving forward, more residents islandwide will benefit from this programme, with up to 14 precincts selected for HIP this year.'

A HDB estimate puts the number of households benefiting this year at between 10,000 and 12,000. Mr Mah did not reveal the locations of these precincts.

The HIP together with the NRP will rejuvenate middle-aged and mature towns, Mr Mah said. 'In this way, we raise the standard of living and preserve the value of HDB assets for our people.'

The estimated HIP cost for the Yishun precinct was $11.3 million, with the Government footing about $10.9 million. For each flat, the Government will fund fully the essential improvement costs, which came up to $13,000 per flat.

What home owners pay for the optional improvements vary between types of flats. If a four-room flat home owner opted for all five optional changes, including upgraded toilets and the replacement of the entrance door, he would pay $825.

The Government will foot another $11,775. Together with the $13,000 funding for the essential repairs, the home owner would enjoy a total subsidy of $24,775. Those with three-room units would pay $550 and five-room flat dwellers pay $1,100 for the optional items, with the Government's share being $12,050 and $11,500 respectively.

Singapore permanent residents pay the full upgrading cost.

Mr S. N. Nair, 73, opted for all five items. The retiree, who lives with his wife in a four-room flat, said that the upgrading of the toilet had made it both safer and cleaner for the couple who have been living there for the past 25 years.

Madam Massilah Ali, 40, who has been living in Yishun for the past 12 years with her husband and two daughters, said: 'The pricing is also very reasonable and the best part is that we can pay using our CPF (savings).'

A HDB survey found that 99 per cent of the residents were satisfied with the HIP.

Mr Mah added that upgrading works will gradually be introduced to other towns as part of a long-term plan. 'We will remake the heartlands, phase by phase, and I think you will eventually see new rejuvenated heartlands, whether it's the old towns or middle-aged towns.'

Source, Straits Times 23 March 2010

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