LGUs address housing backlog

Habitat Philippines holds 2nd BAHAYnihan Forum

Underlining the critical need for safe and adequate housing amid the alarming surge in the number of COVID-19 cases, Habitat for Humanity Philippines, together with the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) and the Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter, brought together local chief executives to exchange insights on how they address the housing need in their city in the second BAHAYnihan Online Forum last Wednesday.

Following the success of its first run, BAHAYnihan focused on the role of local government units in providing adequate and affordable housing to less privileged families and building sustainable communities. The forum discussed successful housing programs led by the LGUs in the hope of coming up with solutions to address the massive housing backlog, which currently stands at 6.8 million and could balloon to 22 million units by 2040 if left unaddressed, according to DHSUD.

The forum featured successfully planned and implemented housing programs of three LGUs, namely Quezon City; San Carlos City, Negros Occidental; and Mandaue City, Cebu.

Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte highlighted the implementation of in-city relocation program and how it contributes to informal settler families’ overall welfare.  In September 2019, the city recorded 213,978 informal settler families (ISF) which corresponded to around 30 percent of the city’s population. The LGU targets to provide security of land tenure or shelter to 10,000 ISFs by June 30, 2022—via community mortgage program, direct (purchase) sale, rental housing, off-city resettlement, in-city housing projects, and transition housing.

San Carlos City Mayor Renato Gustilo showcased the city’s comprehensive development plan and holistic approach to housing and community empowerment. To cater to the informal settlers in the Poblacion area, the city started the Homelot Program (Lote para sa Mahihirap) in 1994. The program has provided 824 lots with 54 sqm each to families who accepted the easy installment terms of P5 per day, five days a week, for five years. The city also offers socialized housing to its local government employees. The 90-sqm lots only cost P235.50 monthly for five years.

Representing Mayor Jonas Cortes of Mandaue City, Cebu was Housing and Urban Development Office head Tony Pet Juanico, who spoke about the city’s resettlement programs for low-income families. In partnership with national housing agencies, the city has created Maharlika Township Project, a socialized housing initiative for 530 families left homeless by the 2019 Tipolo Fire.

DHSUD Secretary Eduardo Del Rosario opened the forum, while veteran broadcast journalist and social advocate Karen Davila moderated the session.

In partnership with BCI Asia, Fairbuilding Network, and JS Unitrade Merchandise Inc., the BAHAYnihan Online Forum aims to serve as a platform for stakeholders, key industry players, and experts to tackle the most pressing housing issues that the country faces today. It also seeks to present solutions to help improve the lives of Filipino families through decent shelter. The forum was live-streamed on Habitat Philippines’ Facebook and YouTube pages.