Monday 27 October 2014

Groceries make a clean difference

Two Jurong housing blocks much cleaner after residents are rewarded for their effort
By Amelia Tan, The Sunday Times, 26 Oct 2014

Two Housing Board blocks in Jurong East are looking cleaner these days, thanks to an initiative that rewards residents who help keep their estate spick and span.

Under the scheme started in April, families living in two blocks of one- and two-room rental flats in Jurong East Street 32 get free groceries for keeping their estate clean.

They get $30 worth of household items every month if they keep their front yards and corridors free of litter and bulky items.

They get an extra $60 to $240 worth of items if they volunteer to patrol the estate, wash the blocks or do gardening. Those who spend more time volunteering and have bigger families get more.

Yesterday, more than 300 families collected items such as biscuits, sugar and soap at the void deck of Block 373 in Jurong East Street 32. Some residents also had free haircuts and dental check-ups.

The groceries are handed out under Project Hand In Hand, a one-year initiative by Jurong East grassroots leaders.

As much as $300,000 has been set aside for the project by the Singapore Totalisator Board, which runs lotteries and football betting, and the Jurong Central Citizens Consultative Committee.

Mr Winston Wang, organising chairman of Project Hand In Hand, said the corridors of Block 373 and Block 374 used to be cluttered with litter and bulky items.

"The residents said they did not have enough space in their flats so they placed the things along the corridors," he said.

Football coach and grassroots leader Mohamed Noor Mahmood, 60, said some residents threw rubbish, such as food packets or tissue, out of the windows as they found it troublesome to walk to the common rubbish chute on each floor to dispose of the trash.

Grassroots leaders thought about it and felt that residents would have more reason to keep their surroundings clean if they were rewarded with useful items.

"We felt that these low-income households will benefit from free groceries and other household items," said Mr Wang.

Six months on, the project is a success. Block 373 and Block 374 are significantly cleaner, said residents.

Mr Wang said there are plans to extend the duration of the project and introduce it to other neighbourhoods.

In Jurong East Street 32, grassroots leaders inspect the blocks to decide which families are doing their bit to keep common areas clean and deserve the groceries.

Residents say unannounced checks keep them on their toes.

Madam Siti Maisarah Rustam, 23, a housewife who lives in a two-room flat with six family members, used to put prams along the corridor but stores them in her home now. "I have kept the prams in my home so that I can get my groceries," she said.

Other residents are volunteering their time to keep their estate clean to get more groceries.

Administrative assistant and single mother Lim Wei Bin, 33, said: "I get $120 worth of groceries for volunteering. That means I have more money to spend on my son."

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