The Government has spent about $2.9 billion on the Home Improvement Programme by the Housing and Development Board (HDB) as of March 31 this year.

About 170,400 flats have had upgrading works completed, while another 132,300 flats are undergoing the upgrades.

A total of 320,000 flats under the 1986 age-band were selected as eligible to undergo the programme.

These figures were released by the HDB on Saturday (Dec 21). It said in a statement that the remaining works will be implemented progressively.

The programme was announced in 2007 to benefit residents and improve their quality of life through enhancing their safety and comfort at home.

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

The scheme was previously offered to HDB flats built up to 1986 that had not undergone the previous main upgrading programme.

In August last year, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that the programme will be extended to flats built between 1987 and 1997.

This extension will benefit about 230,000 more HDB households.

The programme looks at essential improvements that are related to public health and safety and these are fully paid for by the Government.

This includes repairing structural cracks, replacing waste or soil discharge stacks, which are parts of pipes, and upgrading the electrical load.

Flat owners can also choose optional improvements and pay for their share of works carried out in their flats.

These optional upgrades include new decorative doors, metal grille gates and refuse chute hoppers.

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

There is also an upgrading option for elderly and vulnerable residents who need the programme, or whose blocks do not qualify for it.

This scheme, known as the Enhancement for Active Seniors (Ease) Programme, allows home owners to choose from elderly-friendly fittings to help older people move around their homes more easily.

These fittings include slip-resistant treatment for existing floor tiles of bathrooms, installation of grab bars in toilets and single-step ramps.

Households that qualify for this scheme must be Singapore citizens with an elderly family member who is 65 years old and above, or between 60 and 64 years old but requires assistance for one of the activities of daily living.

More than 206,000 households have applied for this Ease programme as of Oct 31 this year.

The Government has spent about $80 million on this programme as of March 31 this year.

 

Written by Sue-Ann Tan for The Straits Times. Photo by Kua Chee Siong.