Expanding outreach and engaging neighbours

SINGAPORE — Expanding on its Good Neighbours Project (GNP) programme, the Housing Development Board (HDB) is offering up to S$10,000 to fund residents’ ideas for long-term projects, such as converting a void deck into a community living room.

In all, it has set aside S$500,000 over the next five years for the new HDB Friendly Faces, Lively Places Fund that residents can tap to start projects centred around their community.  Upcoming new launch condo include Grandeur Park Residences while existing ones include Kingsford WaterbayForest Woods and Straits Mansions, Sturdee Residences and Gem Residences.

The fund has three broad categories, with the Action Fund offering residents up to S$1,000 for smaller, short-term plans or activities aimed at bonding neighbours or tackling neighbourhood issues, such as community recycling day or block/floor parties.

The Project Fund provides up to S$5,000 for projects that take six months or less, such as the installation of public art; while the Building Fund offers residents up to S$10,000 for larger, long-term projects that will take more than six months.

“Previously, each project was funded up to S$1,000. Now each project can apply for funding of up to S$10,000 from HDB,” said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong on Friday.

“We will also make it easier to apply — previously, there would be a call for proposals by HDB, and you have to apply within the specified application period; now you can apply all year round through the HDB website.”

Mr Wong was speaking at the opening of the Bedok Town Plaza at the Bedok Town Centre on Friday. The new plaza, along with a recently revamped pedestrian mall at Bedok Town Centre, is part of the HDB’s Remaking Our Heartland programme.

Several participants of the GNP programme, which the HDB launched in 2014, told TODAY that more funding would allow them to expand their outreach and engage their neighbours over a longer period of time.

Sisters Shereen Ng, 23, and Shermaine Ng, 19, began conducting community fitness sessions in Clementi featuring household items, such as Dynamo detergent bottles, earlier this year.

“The funding from HDB helped us get refreshments for the residents afterwards, water bottles …” the older Ms Ng said. As their sessions have gained popularity among residents, the siblings plan to expand it to other housing estates.

Another GNP project run by ITE College West students gained traction during their first Curry Day event last month. The project involved neighbours coming together to make curry, samosas and ketupat, enjoy performances, and participate in mini-cooking competitions. “This new fund is good for those like us who want to bring neighbours together,” said Mr Chang Hui, 20, one of the ITE students involved in the project.

Another GNP project, run by Pasir Ris resident Lee Sing Win, 44, and her friend Selena Goh, involved getting neighbours in the estate to learn how to make roses from pandan leaves. The two friends used the HDB funding to buy souvenirs and materials.

“With more funds, we could make it bigger, not just arts and crafts — and we can reach out to more people,” said Ms Lee.