Thursday, December 8, 2022

DHSUD chief bares plans to address housing gap

The Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) bared its plans to address the present housing backlog of more than six million units during a meeting with the Senate Committee on Urban Development, Housing and Resettlement on August 17.

DHSUD Secretary Jose Rizalino Acuzar discussed before the Senate committee the Department’s priority programs that would benefit informal settler families (ISFs) and those living along danger zones, and eventually address the growing housing gap in the country.

He stressed that the provision of decent and safe human settlements or townships to the underprivileged Filipinos throughout the country is among the priorities of the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Currently, DHSUD pegged the housing backlog at more than 6.5 million units.

“We crafted plans based on our assessment of the sector. As we can see now, there are two main bottlenecks that we must address to conquer the housing backlog in the country – first is access to funding and second, affordability. That is the direction of our strategies.” Secretary Acuzar said.

In a presentation, DHSUD Assistant Secretary Avelino Tolentino III stressed that the Department intends to focus on two banner programs – (1) the development of 10 priority areas and (2) urban renewal project sites in major cities and ISF sites along esteros and waterfronts in major urban areas nationwide, in partnership with local governments and the private sector.

Initial site inspections conducted by DHSUD, its regional offices and key shelter agencies (KSA) during the last two weeks have identified potential areas for the development of sustainable settlements and townships.

The DHSUD is also looking at blighted areas, waterways and high-risk coastal communities currently occupied by ISFs for urban re-development for compact, mixed-use and efficient urban districts, hence promoting urban development.

“We are involving as many players who are capable to help us achieve our ultimate goal to produce and finance quality houses for Filipinos. This is where our partner-developers will come in. We seek the support of our legislative branch to attract the participation of the private sector in government housing programs,” Secretary Acuzar emphasized.

The sectoral priority legislative agenda were also discussed during the meeting, including the renewal of the National Housing Authority Charter; amendment of the National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation Charter; and the strengthening of the Social Housing Finance Corporation – all DHSUD KSAs which implement government housing production and finance.

“Moving forward, we appeal for the support of the Congress on pushing for the Department’s budget proposal, specifically, the inclusion of P36 billion housing interest subsidy every year which will serve as catalyst of housing production,” the housing czar emphasized.

Senator JV Ejercito, chairman of the Senate Committee on Urban Development, Housing and Resettlement, said that human settlements and urban development should be included in the master plan or blueprint of the country’s overall development plan, including infrastructure and basic services. — MGL

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