SAFER HOMES AMID COVID-19
Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC) has approved about P20 million in loan for the resettlement of more than 200 families previously living in shanties along a river in Davao City as the agency continues to uphold its mandate to administer socialized housing programs amid the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
The provision of adequate housing is especially timely, given that viruses spread fast in congested informal settlements. The approval was made after SHFC announced that it is suspending some of its ancillary activities for the year worth P21 million to help the government fund its programs to contain the pandemic.
“SHFC is embracing the new normal. This virus crisis will not prevent us in delivering services to the homeless and underprivileged Filipinos,” SHFC South Eastern Mindanao OIC-Vice President Lawrence Bañiso said. “The approval of this project is a testament to our commitment.”
The loan will be used for the acquisition and development of around three hectares of land in Barangay Talomo River in Calinan District for the Green Hills Homeowners Association. It is financed under the Community Mortgage Program (CMP), wherein low-income families can borrow as a community to buy the land they occupy or would like to relocate to.
Raquel Branzuela, the association’s president, welcomed the timely approval of their loan as it gave them comfort despite the virus crisis. “Nagagalak kami dahil magkakaroon na kami ng sariling bahay at lupa na matagal na naming pinapangarap,” she said. “Dahil sa SHFC, hindi na kami squatter.”
The family of Branzuela and 208 others voluntarily demolished their houses built illegally along the Davao River in January 2019 to give way to a flood control project of the Department of Public Works and Highways. They are currently staying in a temporary evacuation center in Barangay 1-A in Davao City, which is still under enhanced community quarantine.
Each unit in the resettlement site will have a floor area of 33 sqm, with two bedrooms, a living room, and a bathroom. Common-use amenities such as a basketball court, a multipurpose hall, and a chapel will be built in the relocation area.
The Green Hills initiative has the full backing of the Davao City government led by Mayor Sara Duterte. Through the City Housing Office, members of the association received assistance on the entire CMP process, from orientation to registration and documentation to application.
The agency has provided security of tenure to more than 350,000 families through over P16 billion in loan assistance under its flagship shelter initiative, the CMP. In 2019 alone, the agency assisted more than 32,000 partner-homeowners.