In promising to keep the Housing & Development Board (HDB) in good condition, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in his National Day Rally Speech that his Government would be extending Home Improvement Programme (HIP) to include flats built up to 1997. With the extension to the Home Improvement Programme, about 230,000 more HDB households will benefit from the HIP.
Introduced in 2007, the Home Improvement Programme was offered to HDB flats built up to 1986 that had not undergone the previous Main Upgrading Programme (MUP). There are about 320,000 flats eligible for the HIP under this 1986 age-band. The HIP focuses on improvements within the flat and helps flat owners address common maintenance problems related to ageing flats in a systematic and comprehensive manner. There are two main components of work under the HIP – Essential and Optional.
The Essential Improvements enhance public health and safety standards, and are fully paid for by the Government. They include repair of spalling concrete, replacement of waste/soil discharge stacks if damaged, replacement of pipe sockets with a new clothes drying rack, as well as upgrading of the electrical load. Optional Improvements include items such as upgrading of the existing toilet/bathrooms, installation of a new decorative door and metal grille gate, and a new refuse chute hopper. Flat owners can choose the improvements they need in their flat, and pay only for those items selected.
The Home Improvement Programme will only proceed when at least 75 per cent of a block’s eligible Singapore Citizen households have voted in favour of it.
HDB announced in a press release on 20 August that in conjunction with the HIP, it will also continue to offer the Enhancement for Active Seniors (EASE) programme. EASE was launched in 2012 to enhance the safety and comfort of seniors living in HDB flats. Under EASE, home owners can choose from a range of elderly-friendly fittings and pay only for the improvements chosen. These include slip-resistant treatment for bathroom floor tiles, grab bars within the flat, and ramps to help the resident negotiate level differences in the flat.
HDB said that since its launch, the Home Improvement Programme has benefitted many Singaporeans and improved their quality of life. As of 1 Aug 2018, HIP has been announced for about 242,000 of the close to 320,000 eligible flats under the 1986 age-band. Of these, the upgrading works have been completed for more than half, or 122,000 flats, with work underway in the remaining flats. The announcement of HIP for all eligible flats in the 1986 age-band will be done by 2019. The Government expects to spend more than $4 billion on these projects.
With the expansion of the Home Improvement Programme to flats built up to 1997, about 230,000 more HDB households island-wide can look forward to the improvement works under HIP and EASE.
In explaining how the like the Home Improvement Programme, the HIP II will be a heavily subsidised scheme, where after upgrading the flat value usually goes up, Mr Lee said:
“The expanded HIP will include flats built up to 1997. In other words, the flats will get HIP about 30 years after they were built. After upgrading, these flats should be good for another 30 to 40 years. By that time, the flats will be 60 to 70 years old, and I expect they will be showing their age again. We are determined not to let our public housing degenerate into ragged, squalid slums, which has happened in many other cities. So we should do a second round of upgrading, at about the 60 to 70-year mark.
Let us call this HIP II. 60 to 70 years old. HIP II will keep the flats safe and liveable, and also help them retain their value as their leases run down. It should see the flats through to the end of their leases. So in short, every HDB flat can expect to be upgraded twice during their lease. Once when they are about 30 years old, through the MUP or HIP, and a second time through HIP II, when they are about 60-70 years old. The first flats will reach 60-70 years old about 10 years from now. So that is when we plan to launch the HIP II programme. Akan datang.
HIP II is a huge financial commitment for the Government. If you own a private property, you are fully responsible for its upkeep and upgrading. But because HDB is public housing, the Government will upgrade each HDB flat not once, but twice during its lifespan. Furthermore, the Government will help you pay most of the upgrading cost. The first HIP will cost the Government more than $4 billion. HIP II will probably cost even more, because the flats will be twice as old by then. But it is well justified, and we will do it so long as MOF has the money.”
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