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Venue II - Education and Outreach Programme

BlK 79 Indus Road (HDB)

The HDB (Housing Development Board) was set up in 1960 to provide better living conditions for the large amounts of people living in the unhygienic and potentially hazardous slums and squatter settlements of that time. Tasked with finding a solution to the nation's housing crisis, the HDB built 21,000 flats in less than three years and by 1965, it had built 54,000 flats. When the HDB was first established, only nine percent of the population lived in HDB flats.

Today, the HDB has moved from resettling people living in slums to providing Singaporeans with affordable, quality homes. Presently, close to 84 percent of the Singaporean population live in flats designed, constructed, managed and maintained by the HDB.

Blk 79 Indus Road is one of the first slab blocks built by the HDB. Completed in 1971, it has a total of 520 one-room rental units meant for the low-income group. The block design is simple and functional - a "double-loaded" block with a central corridor.

Since August 1993, HDB has been carrying out the Project to Improve Living Conditions of the Elderly jointly with the Ministry of Community Development and Sports at selected one-room rental blocks where there are relatively high concentrations of elderly residents. Under the project, HDB undertakes the hardware aspect of improving the physical living conditions including modification of lifts to stop on every floor, re-tiling the toilets with non-slip floor tiles, replacement of existing squat pan with pedestal wc, fitting the flats with alert alarm system etc. Volunteer Welfare Organisations are appointed to provide community-based care and support services to the elderly residents.

Upgrading works to units in Blk 79 under this project was carried out in 2000 and the block and the precinct were also upgraded under the Main Upgrading Programme and upgrading works, completed in 2004.

Blk 79 had also previously been identified as part of SPHERE Programme - Students, Singapore Pools and HDB Enriching and Reaching out to the Elderly, started in June 2002. Here, schools adopt HDB rental blocks, a large proportion of which the tenants are above 55 years of age and live alone. Students in the SPHERE programme reached out to the senior citizens through a host of activities. These included simple day-to-day gestures such as chit-chatting and befriending them, cooking for them, helping them with housekeeping, household repair and personal grooming, to extensive projects such as organising block parties, fund raising projects, health screening sessions and even birthday and festive celebrations.