Addressing Phl’s housing woes

A bill has been filed in the Senate seeking to automatically allocate P1 trillion in the national budget in the next 20 years, to help the country catch up with its housing backlog, estimated to reach at least 6.5 million shelters by 2022.

 Sen. Francis Tolentino filed Senate Bill 1174, or the proposed “National Comprehensive Housing Financing Act of 2020” where he stressed that no less than the Constitution — in Section 9, Article 13 — mandates that “the State shall undertake, in cooperation with the private sector, a continuing program of urban land reform and housing which will make available at affordable cost, decent housing, and basic services to underprivileged and homeless citizens in urban centers and resettlement areas.”

“During this time of pandemic, there is even a more urgent need to ensure that the country’s attainment of its national housing goals must be on track as more Filipinos will be in need of affordable, quality homes,” Tolentino who chairs the Senate committee on urban planning, housing and resettlement, said in the bill.

“To address the country’s housing problem, this bill proposes to automatically appropriate funds for the government’s housing agenciesprogram in order for our country to catch up with its housing backlog, and to provide a home for every Filipinos,” he said.

A Senate Bill aims to boost housing production by forging partnerships among housing stakeholders, and generate and mobilize funds for housing purposes of Filipino families.

He said for the period 2017 to 2022, there is a 6.57 million housing unit deficiency. Citing a report from the Philippine Statistical Research and Training Institute, he said the country’s housing need is projected to grow to 22.6 million units by the end of 2040.

Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) has warned that the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis has slowed the housing production by the government with the imposition of the work stoppage bringing the construction to a standstill.

Chapter 12 of the Philippine Development Plan provides that a total of 927,541 permanent housing units are targeted to be constructed, with 34,900 housing units financed, and transitional resettlement assistance and additional community facilities provided within 2017 to 2022, the senator said.

Ambisyon Natin 2040 of the National Economic Development Authority envisions that in 2040, all Filipino families will live together in a place of their own, Tolentino noted.

However, the country’s ability to address the housing problem and attain its goals is limited by the budget allocated for the housing agencies. Over the last decade, the housing agencies’ highest appropriation was only 1.66 percent of the national budget, or P37 billion only, he said.

The combined budget for the housing agencies in the proposed 2020 national budget is less than half of one percent of the national budget with the Department of Budget and Management allotting P1 billion for National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation (NHMFC), P3.277 billion for the National Housing Authority (NHA); P1.397 billion for the Social Housing Finance Corporation; and P614 million for DHSUD proper.

Based on the DBM’s proposed budget, the DHSUD could only come up with 12,000 housing units in 2020, he lamented.

The measure, he said, aims to boost housing production by forging partnerships among housing stakeholders, and generate and mobilize funds for housing purposes of Filipino families, giving priority to the homeless and underprivileged.

Under the bill, some P50 billion is to be appropriated for the DHSUD and its attached agencies in the annual General Appropriations Act (GAA).

The amount initially appropriated shall be replenished in the GAA of the following year over a period of 20 consecutive years commencing the year immediately succeeding the effectiveness of the measure.

Housing backlog is estimated to reach at least 6.5 million shelters by 2022.

A total amount of P1 trillion covering the continuing requirement of this Act shall be appropriated to the DHSUD and its attached agencies over the said period to be distributed to various programs including P130 billion to finance “public housing.”

The bill also provides for the allocation of P30 billion for subsidies broken down as follows: P6.85 billion for interim shelter finance assistance for relocated informal-settler families; P2.5 billion for amortization support; P7.4 billion to finance public rental housing; and P600 million to finance a survey of proclaimed lands and conduct of inventory of government idle lands suitable for socialized housing.

 Some P630 billion is also proposed to be given to the NHA for the implementation of its programs, including the resettlement program (P297.7 billion); settlements upgrading (P63.7 billion); housing for calamity victims (P39 billion); and “land banking” (P25.8 billion).

 The measure also allocates P152 billion for the SHFC and P50 billion for the NHMFC.

 The funding will be sourced from the imposition of the socialized housing tax, issuance of bonds, among others.