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7,800 HDB flats reap $23m project benefits

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Nearly 7,800 flats have benefited from a $23 million programme to make public housing estates more convenient for residents, said Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan.

In a blog post yesterday, Mr Khaw signalled the conclusion of the Barrier Free Accessibility (BFA) programme that began in 2006 and covered the common areas of Housing and Development Board (HDB) estates. BFA works have been fully implemented in all HDB estates, he said.

Upgrading works under the programme included the installation of ramps and railings, as well as unobstructed walkways that connect the housing blocks to surrounding facilities.

"Other than helping the elderly and physically disabled, the installation of ramps and handrails under the BFA brings daily convenience to many," Mr Khaw wrote. "Parents with baby strollers and housewives returning from marketing with trolleys will also find it a breeze moving around the estates."

The HDB said the masterplan for each town was drawn up by the town councils, which consulted grassroots groups and considered residents' feedback and requests.

Mr Khaw said last week that the town councils might continue to incorporate more BFA features if they wish to do so - as part of ongoing improvement works for instance.

Within each flat, Mr Khaw said the HDB has been incorporating universal designs since 2006 that make them user-friendly for all ages.

For example, new Built-to-Order flats now feature ramps at the main entrances and bathrooms, and wider doors for bedrooms and toilets to cater to the elderly on wheelchairs.

The HDB has also started to roll out the Enhancement for Active Seniors (EASE) programme, an optional part of the HDB's Home Improvement Programme.

The government has set aside $260 million to help subsidise up to 95 per cent of the installation costs for the ramps, grab bars and non-slip tiles.

"Ageing of population is a definitive trend. The earlier we make HDB towns elderly-friendly, the more ready we will be in enriching the quality of life of our elderly residents," Mr Khaw wrote.

Credit from Business Times - 20 November 2012
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