'Holistic support system' required for homeowners without direct lift access

Victor Kang13 Mar 2020

Lift Upgrading Programme-crop

While the new Lift Access Housing Grant helps to offset the cost of buying a new flat, it isn’t that useful for some residents.  

The newly announced Lift Access Housing Grant by National Development Minister Lawrence Wong has received mixed reviews among HDB residents.

The Lift Access Housing Grant provides up to $30,000 in housing grants to residents with medical or mobility issues who are currently living in HDB blocks that are ineligible for the Lift Upgrading Programme (LUP). The grants will help to offset the cost so that they can acquire new or resale HDB flats with direct lift access.

Osman Omar, a 66-year-old retiree at Jurong West, shared that while he likes to avail of the grant, he was worried of the cost of purchasing another flat given that he is retired and no longer earns an income, reported CNA.

Osman climbs two flights of stairs to get to the lift on the fourth floor of his block. Doing so requires some physical effort on his part since he has a leg that aches and asthma.

However, the LUP was not implemented in his block at Jurong West due to site constraints or prohibitive costs.

“We have been waiting many, many years (for a lift). At our age, we have to go up and go down … Sometimes if you carry things (it’s also a) problem.”

With this, Osman believes that “the best thing is if they do upgrading”.

Meanwhile, Yeoh Cheng Sin, 72, was “happy” to hear of the grants but prefers to wait if there would be an en-bloc for their flat at another Jurong West block prior to making a decision.

In any case, she and her husband, who is now 73 years old, intends to wait till they are 80 before planning to relocate.

“Now we are still okay, but in a few years, I don’t know,” said the retiree.

Mr Yee, who lives on the 11th floor of the same block, said that while he was not opposed to moving, the problem was looking for a flat to move to. 

“The problem is – where do I move?” he said, adding that he did not want to move from his larger flat to a smaller one- or two-room flat.

“If we can stay in our old homes, it would be best.”

Having direct lift access is crucial for seniors and persons with disabilities, said organisations and social workers working with such groups.

“For seniors who are still fit and healthy, it may not be an issue. Many seniors are still fit in their 60s and 70s. However, in the 80s and 90s, there is definitely a further decline in strength and fitness for many,” explained Teo Tee Loon, Executive Director of Lakeside Family Services, which provides services to underprivileged families, youths, children and elderly within the Jurong area.

Related: HDB’s Home Improvement Programme (HIP): Do you need to pay to upgrade your flat?

“Direct lift access would therefore be very helpful to every person at some point in time, when they reach that stage of life.”

Aside from being essential during quick evacuation, a barrier-free environment also help persons with disabilities “regain a sense of mobility, empowerment and self-reliance”, said Abhimanyau Pal, Chief Executive of SPD, a local charity supporting persons with disabilities.

But while the grant can “relieve some of (the) financial burdens” involved in buying a flat with lift access, he believes more could be done.

Some residents, for instance, may need more help in acquiring and moving to a new HDB flat like assessing the new location’s accessibility or help with financial planning.

“This is necessary for persons who have limited resources and need help in understanding, navigating resources and decision-making,” he said.

And since relocation is a “drastic change”, residents often consider this as “a last resort”.

“A holistic support system may therefore be required to help persons with disabilities to explore different options before deciding to move,” said Pal.

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Victor Kang, Digital Content Specialist at PropertyGuru, edited this story. To contact him about this or other stories, email victorkang@propertyguru.com.sg


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