BY ROGER M. BALANZA
The Covid-19 pandemic cannot stop us from helping secure shelter for the underprivileged and homeless citizens of our country, said Mayor Azucena Huervas of Valencia City Bukidnon, in her dramatic speech at the signing ceremony of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between her city and the state-owned Social Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC) on Monday, July 20, 2020.
The MOU opens the door for low-income, homeless residents of Valencia City to secure housing loans from the SHFC.
With potential infection from the deadly coronavirus making physical social gatherings a big no-no, Mayor Huervas and SHFC president Arnolfo Cabling went virtual in the signing ceremony.
Cabling joined the online ZOOM event while in Davao City. Gathered in Valencia City, under strict minimum Anti-Covid-19 health protocols were Vice Mayor Policarpo Murillo, members of the Valencia City Council, the Local Housing Board and key officials of the local government. SHFC was represented by a small contingent led by Executive Vice President Atty. Junefe Payot and Senior Vice President Atty. Ronaldo Saco.
SHFC, a key shelter agency under the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD), implements the government’s socialized housing program through its flagship Community Mortgage Program (CMP). The program provides long-term, low-interest housing loans to organized Homeowners Associations (HOA) of homeless formal and informal settlers, especially those located in danger areas or displaced by government projects and court orders.
In her speech, Mayor Huervas welcomed the partnership with SHFC admitting that Valencia City has its share of constituents in risk areas who are vulnerable to calamities like typhoons and flash floods.
Cabling is a strong believer in the role of Local Government Units (LGUs) as a partner of the SHFC in providing socialized housing to underprivileged homeless Filipinos, and has steered his agency in inking MOUs with several LGUs with aim to solve the country’s housing woes.
THE SHFC-VALENCIA CITY HOUSING PROJECT
Social Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC) is set to implement its flagship initiative, the Community Mortgage Program (CMP), in Valencia, Bukidnon, through a deal that will provide affordable housing to more than 600 families from three barangays in the city. The development came after SHFC President Atty. Arnolfo Ricardo Cabling and Mayor Azucena Huervas signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in a virtual ceremony held on July 20.
Under the agreement, SHFC will finance the lot acquisition, site development, and construction of houses for 348 families from La Presa, Long Vine, and Lady Bamboo homeowner’s associations (HOA) in Barangay Taas. The agency will also fund the housing of 230 and 60 families from Valencia City Urban Poor HOA in Barangay San Carlos and New Homeland HOA in Barangay Mailag, respectively.
The MOU, signed in the presence of Vice Mayor Policarpo Murillo IV and SHFC Senior Vice President for Operations Atty. Ronaldo Saco, followed similar deals between SHFC and the local governments of Taysan in Batangas, Daet in Camarines Norte, and Jones in Isabela. SHFC is poised to ink more deals through video conferencing technology to adapt to the new normal brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In his speech, Atty. Cabling said SHFC remains fully committed to fulfilling its mandate despite the virus crisis through collaborative projects with local government units, which are mandated to undertake shelter programs under the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992. He noted that SHFC has made its interest rates even more affordable through its socialized approach, with borrowers paying between 2 percent and 6 percent depending on their income.
Atty. Cabling explained that housing projects under the CMP center around the sense of neighborhood and ownership. These two fundamental elements create a stable foundation for all of its shelter initiatives in the country. “These initiatives will help pump prime the economy by creating jobs for the people, especially those in the countryside, which is very crucial during this time of pandemic,” he said. Atty. Cabling added that SHFC is looking to roll out more projects in the provinces to decongest Metro Manila and other highly urbanized cities.
Mayor Huervas echoed the sentiment and thanked SHFC for partnering with the city to address its housing needs. “Part of our vision for Valencia is to empower its people,” she said. “For me, people empowerment includes giving our residents the opportunity to have a place they call home, one that will provide them security, privacy, respect, and dignity.”
SHFC has so far forged similar agreements with 90 local government units, including 15 new partners added this year. In the light of the pandemic, the agency continues with the provision of adequate housing, which has become even more crucial now given that viruses spread fast in congested informal settlements. To date, it has provided security of tenure to more than