NDR 2018: Eligible HDB flats to be upgraded twice over their lifespan

National flags flown at HDB blocks in the Albert Court area in Singapore on August 5, 2015. (Getty Images file photo)
National flags flown at HDB blocks in the Albert Court area in Singapore on August 5, 2015. (Getty Images file photo)

Eligible Housing Development Board (HDB) flats can be expected to be “upgraded twice” during their lifespan with the expansion of the existing Home Improvement Programme (HIP) announced on Sunday (19 August).

“We are determined not to let our public housing degenerate into ragged slums, which has happened in many other cities,” said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong as he addressed a crowd during his 15th National Day Rally speech at the Institute of Technical Education Central in Ang Mo Kio.

Launched a decade ago, HIP, described by PM Lee in his speech as “very popular” and “essential”, help fix maintenance issues, such as ceiling leaks and damaged pipes, and upgrade electrical supplies of HDB flats built up to 1986.

450,000 HDB flats would be upgraded under the existing HIP and its predecessor, the Main Upgrading Programme (MUP), which was introduced in the 1990s.

HIP will now be expanded to cover HDB flats built up to 1997, said PM Lee, given that the programme was launched a decade ago and flats which missed qualifying for it are “now starting to show their age”.

This expansion will see the eligibility of 230,000 more flats, including those in Yishun, Tampines, and Jurong.

As of 2016, an estimated 3,249,900 people in Singapore live in HDB flats, according to government statistics.

“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 showing their age again,” said PM Lee.

Additionally, eligible HDB flats can then apply for a second round of upgrading, called HIP II, which will “keep the flats safe and liveable, and also help them retain their value as their leases run down”.

Given the timeframe, HIP II will be expected to be launched in about 10 years from now, added PM Lee.

Calling it a “huge financial commitment for the government”, PM Lee explained that the first HIP is expected to cost the government more than $4 billion.

Up to 95 per cent of the HIP programme is paid for by the government and residents “pay as little as a few hundred dollars for the upgrading”, he noted.

“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 (Ministry of Finance) has the money,” he added.

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