Fixing up homes for CNY cheer

This article is more than 12 months old

Scrap metal collector Tan Yew Huat is looking forward to celebrating Chinese New Year - his home of more than 40 years has been spruced up for the first time.

"It is in some way like a new beginning," said Mr Tan, 59, who has lived in his Hougang four-room flat since 1977 with his two older brothers, aged 65 and 63.

Besides newly painted walls, the flat has new locks for the front door and the electrical sockets have been replaced as well. Mr Tan is among residents from 300 low-income families whose homes will be done up for free as part of the new A-Better-Home @ North East.

Yesterday, grassroots organisations, contractors and volunteers helped spread festive cheer.

For residents like Mr Tan, even simple repairs are often put off because of the cost. He and his brothers - one of them works as a bus driver and the other is unemployed - have a combined monthly income of just $1,700.

The North East district initiative, which will run until March next year, involves seven contractors who have forked out $350,000 worth of services to help these underprivileged families.

Mr Joseph Ong, managing director of OES Construction, saw this as his chance to "give back to society".

In Woodlands, 30 Malay volunteers chipped in to help eight Chinese families and elderly residents spring clean their homes.

At Hong Kah North, two families in rental flats got new wardrobes and dinner tables, while more than 200 families each received a bag of food items worth $30 and a $28 red packet.

The items were sponsored by property agency ERA Realty Network, which donated $43,000 to helping Hong Kah North residents.

The remaining donations will go towards the Hong Kah North SG Cares Fund - a relief fund for needy families.

Some 400 low-income residents in the North West District were treated to a Chinese New Year feast by coffee shop operator Kimly.