Pambansang Pabahay Para sa Pilipino (4PH) Program: Addressing needs, Unlocking potential

For the longest time, socialized housing units were traditionally and substantially produced by the government from the annual budget.

Through the decades, however, funding for shelter agencies and their programs had significantly gone down, except for selected years, to meet the demand for urgent housing needs such as during Super Typhoon Yolanda’s devastation and Marawi siege’s destruction.

Republic Act No. 11201 or the “Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development Act,” passed four years ago, declared as policy that the State shall “ensure that underprivileged and homeless citizens have access to an adequate, safe, secure, habitable, sustainable, resilient and affordable home,“ primarily focusing on the access to and the affordability of basic human needs through the provision of adequate and affordable housing.

4PH Program

Last August, a new national shelter strategy was adopted, the Pambansang Pabahay Para sa Pilipino (4PH) program.

A flagship program of the Marcos administration, the 4PH calls for the development of a million housing units every year until 2028 to deal with the housing needs and attend to the backlog by providing access and support to both developmental loans and end-user financing and improving the affordability of the target beneficiaries by lowering their monthly amortization. 

The key features of the program calls for local government units (LGUs) to take the leadership role in the implementation of their localities’ housing program.

This encourages on-site and/or in-city resettlement, prioritizes higher density/vertical developments using local and or private lands and provides amortization interest support from yearly government appropriations or other special law/s, with additional funding assistance from key shelter agencies, government financial institutions and private banks, through the active participation of both government agencies and private developers/contractors.

Investments and business opportunities

With over 10 dozens Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) signed with different LGUs and partners, the program will be able to generate more employment given the multiplier effects of housing on the economy, in addition to the direct benefits to  common Filipinos in need of housing. Other than the direct job generation opportunities, forward and backward-linked industries can likewise be created and or expanded, to support the huge demand for construction, materials supply, and allied businesses.

White collar jobs with design professionals, developers and service providers will be in demand.  Support from the banking and financial sector will also be generated to provide funding support to those requiring housing loans and various types of financing.

Unlocking potential

Apart from addressing the housing backlog, huge potentials can be unlocked. Sites otherwise occupied by informal settler families (ISF) that remained in blighted conditions for years could be redeveloped to create better, safe and sustainable communities complete with facilities and amenities, where residents can uplift their lives and prosper.

Meanwhile, former ISF families and new beneficiaries who are accorded security of tenure, will have the chance to create and accumulate wealth through home ownership.  More significantly, owning a house will be a game changer because families will have more money to use for other needs such as health and education.

Pockets of vacant areas can also be realigned and readjusted, to allow for bigger developments to have playgrounds and parks for children and adults alike, nearby commercial areas, and social infrastructures like schools and health centers.

With urban renewals, previously occupied waterfronts can also be transformed to prime developments befitting its locational prominence.

With improved communities, LGUs can also expect property values on-site and adjoining areas to increase. Property revenue collections will increase and improve, which in turn could be used for other hard and soft developmental projects, such as roads and infrastructure, employment support and subsidies, among others.

This substantial progress, once noticed, may consequently attract more investments into the different communities in the country, further improving the lives of many.

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Henry L. Yap is an architect, fellow in both environmental planning and real estate management. He is one of the undersecretaries of the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development.