By ROGER M. BALANZA
The House of Representatives plans to increase the budget for socialized housing to at least P50 billion starting next year .
The big news for the country’s homeless comes as the House committee on housing and urban development committed to closely work with the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) and its housing agencies to address the country’s 6.7-million housing backlog.
The Key Shelter Agencies (KSA) under DHSUD chaired by Secretary Eduardo del Rosario are the Home Development Mutual Fund or Pag-IBIG Fund, National Home Mortgage Finance Corp. (NHMFC) , Socialized Housing Finance Corp. (SHFC) and the National Housing Authority (NHA).
Expected to carry much of the burden of solving the country’s socialized housing crisis is the SHFC, the lead government agency undertaking the financing and construction of social housing programs for the formal and informal sectors in the low-income sector especially those living in danger zones. SHFC is headed by its president, Atty. Arnolfo Ricardo Cabling.
House committee on housing and urban development vice chairman Congresswoman Florida Robes (San Jose de Monte City, Bulacan) said that other than the P50 billion fund in 2022, the committee would also propose to increase the socialized housing fund every year thereafter in a bid to provide shelter to all homeless Pinoys.
Robes was among government officials who spoke at the Bulacan Housing Summit held at the Bulcan Convention Center in San Jose del Monte City on Wednesday, March 10.
The summit was attended by, among others, Sec. Del Rosario, House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, House Committee on Housing and Urban Development chairman Francisco Benitez, Bulacan Gov. Daniel Fernando and mayors of Bulacan.
The summit is an offshoot of a House Resoultion No. 1458 declaring a housing crisis.declaring a “housing crisis” as the country grapples with the huge housing backlog.
Robes heads the Technical Working Group created by the resolution to coordinate with the DHSUD and the government’s KSAs to give flesh to 18 House proposals, including HB No. 8248 which institutionalizes on-site, in-city or near-city resettlement, aiming to resolve the housing crisis.
Speaker Velasco, in his speech at the summit, vowed all-out support for the housing program of President Rodrigo Duterte.
“You can expect our Congress to continue to be a partner of President Duterte in fulfilling his promise to build an inclusive housing program and provide decent and affordable houses to each Filipino,” Velasco said.
Emphasizing the need for bigger social housing fund, Robes said that ever since, government allocated very limited funding for housing with spending on housing averaging only 0.74 percent of the national budget from 2010 to 2021.
Robes said many of the housing backlogs may be addressed at the local government level through the help of the private sector. “A lot of it is through political will ,” she said.
The SHFC, which frontlines government efforts to provide shelter to the country’s poorest of the poor, could, with bigger funds, inject more punches to its political will. Even amid the Covid-19pandemic, SHFC has continued to ink Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Local Government Units (LGUs) on socialized housing and opened wide the doors to organized associations its loan portfolio its Community Mortgage Program (CMP).
“This is an ambitious goal I know because it is not easy especially now that we have the pandemic but we have housing officials who are passionate about their work and are very much willing to work together to fulfill their mandate of providing decent and affordable housing to all underserved Filipino families,” Robes said.