The Housing and Development Board (HDB) revealed that $1.93 billion had been spent under the Home Improvement Programme (HIP) since its launch in 2007 until 31 March this year, while another $40 million was spent under the Enhancement for Active Seniors (EASE) scheme.
HIP is for older HDB flats built up to 1986 which have not undergone the Main Upgrading Programme.
EASE, on the other hand, retrofits flats with elderly-friendly features. It is usually offered along with HIP in order to make it more convenient for residents, since improvement works could be carried out simultaneously, reported Channel News Asia.
As at November 2017, almost 149,000 households applied for EASE since its introduction in July 2012, with around 97,000 opting for the scheme together with HIP. The rest applied for the programme under the Direct Application scheme.
Focused on improvements within the housing units, HIP helps unit owners deal with common maintenance problems connected to ageing flats. It will only proceed when at least 75 percent of the eligible households within a block had voted in favour of the programme.
Notably, there are three primary components of work under HIP – Optional, Essential and EASE improvements.
Fully paid by the government, essential improvements are aimed at enhancing public health and safety standards, with works including repair of structural cracks or spalling concrete as well as pipe socket replacements with new clothes drying racks.
Works under the optional components include the upgrade of existing toilets and replacement of gates, main doors and refuse chute hoppers, while EASE improvements include slip-resistant treatment of toilet floor tiles and installation of ramps and grab bars.
Although home owners pay for the combination of improvement works they require, such works are heavily subsidised by the government by up to 95 percent.
In fact, upgrading works at 101,000 flats from 113 projects have already been completed as at 30 November 2017, while another 139,400 flats are in different stages of progress. HDB is set to select the remaining eligible flats by end-2018.
Among those who had their flats upgraded under the HIP and EASE programmes is Mr. Chew Ang Moh. While Chew is still able-bodied, he had opted for the EASE improvements.
“Since we have the chance to do so, we have arranged for the improvement works to be done now. We know we’re not getting any younger, and we don’t know when our bodies may fail us. So it’s important that we arranged for this to be done early,” said the 70-year-old Chew, who lives in a four-room flat with his 65-year-old wife, son and three grandchildren.