Sunday, 22 May 2016

HDB launches fund to help promote community bonding

By Yeo Sam Jo, The Straits Times, 21 May 2016

A new fund which residents can tap has been created to encourage community bonding in public housing estates.

The Housing Board has set aside $500,000 over the next five years for the new HDB Friendly Faces, Lively Places Fund, which aims to spur residents to initiate ground- up, community-building projects. They can propose activities and apply for a grant of up to $10,000.

This is an increase from the $1,000 available for each activity under another scheme to encourage neighbourliness - the Good Neighbours Project.

National Development Minister Lawrence Wong, who announced the new fund at the start of HDB's Community Week at the new Bedok Town Plaza yesterday, encouraged residents to apply for the fund and foster greater neighbourliness. They can do so on HDB's website at any time of the year. To qualify, activities must involve diverse groups and individuals, and be free and open to the public.

Mr Wong said: "Now that there is more funding and a longer window to apply, please spread the word around. I encourage everyone to make full use of this opportunity and come up with something meaningful for the community."

To further boost community bonding, HDB has also formed a Town Plaza Activation Team to spearhead activities such as mini-concerts and mass workouts at Bedok Town Plaza.

This team consists of local community partners, including schools, grassroots leaders and the National Arts Council. Two upcoming town plazas, in Punggol and Yishun, will get activation teams too.

Yesterday, Mr Wong and adviser to grassroots organisations Lee Yi Shyan officially opened the new Bedok Town Plaza, which includes a heritage corner on the East Coast.

Mr Lee, who is an MP for East Coast GRC, said the plaza's central location makes it useful for activities such as taiji, dancing and even announcements.

"If you have an important message to send out, for example, maybe (about) dengue, Zika virus... this is a very good place," he added.

On display at the plaza yesterday were Good Neighbours Projects, including a dinner and movie night for over 100 residents last month hosted by a team from Casuarina Primary School.

One of the pupils on the team, Diyanah Amani Ismail, 11, said: "We had fun doing this and we all grew closer."

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