Expanded home improvement scheme to spruce up another 230,000 HDB flats

Another 230,000 flats will be upgraded as the Government looks to extend the Home Improvement Programme (HIP) to HDB blocks built in the years up to 1997, announced Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Sunday (Aug 19).

The expanded programme will also include a new component dubbed HIP II, which will give all HDB flats a second round of upgrading when they reach the 60 to 70-year mark.

These were announced in Mr Lee’s National Day Rally speech, in which he also talked about why HDB flat leases should not extend beyond 99 years.

Rolled out in 2007 to fix common maintenance problems at ageing HDB flats, the HIP scheme originally covered flats built in the years up to 1986 and those that had not undergone the previous Main Upgrading Programme (MUP).

It is heavily subsidised and the Government pays up to 95 per cent of upgrading costs.

As of Aug 1, HIP has been announced for about 242,000 of the close to 320,000 eligible flats, according to HDB. Upgrading works have been completed for 122,000 homes, with work underway in the remaining flats.

Mr Lee said the final batch of flats that qualify for this scheme will be announced by next year. When completed, a total of 450,000 flats will be upgraded under HIP and the MUP.

However, there are homes that missed qualifying for the HIP and are now starting to show their age, said Mr Lee.

For instance, estates like Yishun, Tampines and Jurong had flats that were built before and after 1986. There are also residents in Pasir Ris who collected keys to their flats in 1987.

“I know many HDB residents in these younger flats are also hoping for an upgrading.”

The expanded programme to include homes built between 1987 and 1997 will address this, said Mr Lee.

“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.”

So as to not let Singapore’s public housing “degenerate into ragged, squalid slums”, the HDB will be upgrading older flats a second time at around the 60 to 70-year mark under the HIP II scheme.

This will start in about 10 years’ time when the first flats reach 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,” he said. “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.”

Mr Lee said the HIP II scheme is a “huge financial commitment”.

The first HIP will cost the Government more than S$4 billion and the HIP II is expected to cost even more as the flats will be twice as old by then.

But this is “well-justified” and will be done “so long as the Ministry of Finance has the money”, said Mr Lee.

Source: Channel NewsAsia – 19 Aug 2018

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