When I took on the challenge to lead the country’s primary housing and urban development agency, I only have a simple principle in mind: that housing is a right of every Filipino family and it is our responsibility as housing officials that this is realized.
To do this, we must not only build houses but also design communities that are affordable, accessible, safe, resilient and sustainable, and which comply with national standards, policies and programs.
We are determined on achieving a holistic and integrated approach in shaping the future of the country’s housing and urban development sector through the newly crafted National Housing and Urban Development Sector Plan. This is a 20-year housing roadmap from 2021 to 2040 that is aligned with the Ambisyon Natin 2040.
In my previous columns, I discussed the first two banner programs namely, Creating Spaces for the Urban-Rural Continuum and Transforming Spaces into Housing Communities. To further promote continuity in development, we are carrying out the third banner program called Making Communities Accessible and Affordable.
“Making Communities Accessible and Affordable” has a very specific yet overarching goal—to ensure that everyone, particularly those in the low-income bracket, will reap the benefits of the country’s urban and settlement development.
It will be categorized into four sub-programs, namely Public Rental Housing Program, Innovative Housing Finance, Land-based Financing Program and Housing One-Stop Processing Centers. We are redesigning this framework to expand methods on enabling families gain security of tenure in livable and safe housing communities. An integral component is building resilient homes with livelihood opportunities.
With the public rental housing, we will mainly cater to the homeless and less fortunate families. Through this, we hope to solve the housing needs through alternative housing options for the underprivileged and address home ownership, affordability and land availability through substitute tenure arrangements.
In addition, it will minimize the displacement of informal settler families (ISFs) while improving their access to education, employment, social facilities and key infrastructure and services to eventually lead to economic and physical mobility in a stable, safe and secure environment.
Innovative housing finance, meanwhile, involves asset-backed securities, green bonds, mortgage market expansion and reverse mortgage. This program will finance strategies and scale up innovative finance schemes, integrating financing options and capacity development for beneficiaries in their local shelter plans.
For land-based financing, we intend to utilize instruments and measures that can generate more revenues from local infrastructure, urban services and other development projects of LGUs. It will also promote land-based revenue-generating mechanisms both in the national and local levels.
We want to serve our stakeholders even better. Hence, to further harmonize our frontline services to cater mostly to the underprivileged, we are pushing for the establishment of Housing One-Stop Processing Centers in our Regional Offices to streamline the processing of clearances, permits and licenses from concerned government entities and ensure the most efficient delivery of public services. This will eventually lead to shorter period of completion of housing projects.
Cognizant of the fact that a strong and robust economy is crucial to addressing the need for integrated, inclusive and sustainable settlements, we recognize the importance of empowering our local governments and other stakeholders in ensuring economic gains for the benefit of the marginalized communities.
This unity of purpose for economic growth will hopefully lead us to providing for the needs of our countrymen, not just on housing but on the improvement of their overall living conditions.
Access and affordability, some would say, are subjective. For our part, we are fostering a human ecosystem that facilitates equitability and cooperation among its components.
Building a community is one thing, making it available is another. It is our mission to ensure that every housing community we build is transformed as a shelter and refuge and within the arm’s reach of every Filipino family.
Article was originally published in Inquirer and written by Sec. Eduardo D. Del Rosario.