MANILA – Citing the urgent need to eradicate homelessness in the country, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go on Wednesday called for renewed support for a bill he has filed in July 2019, which aims to provide continuous funding support for a large scale pro-poor housing program in the country.
Senate Bill No. 203, or the National Housing Development, Production and Financing (NHDPF) Act of 2019, aims to significantly reduce the country’s housing backlog through continuous funding support.
In a statement, Go said eradicating homelessness has never been more urgent following the onslaught of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic in the country.
“The pandemic has brought into the open a perennial problem in the Philippines, particularly in metropolitan areas, such as Metro Manila. Lack of decent housing has increasingly led more urban poor families and informal settlers to live in cramped living quarters, often prone to fire and constraints in the delivery of basic services, particularly health,” the chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography said.
“To address the country’s housing problem, the government should pursue a truly ‘large scale’ program that combines new socialized housing initiatives with resettlement and livelihood projects,” Go said.
He said passing the NHDPF bill will complement the housing component of the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa (BP2) Program in the medium to long term, as Filipinos who will voluntarily return to their home provinces to start life anew after the Covid-19 crisis shall need sufficient housing.
Besides housing, other assistance given to BP2 beneficiaries also include employment, education, livelihood, and health, among others.
According to the National Housing Authority (NHA), the BP2 program has already drawn 10,000 applicants in the first four days of its online registration.
As the proponent of BP2, Go also called on relevant housing agencies, such as the NHA and the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development to do a thorough inventory of unoccupied housing units and available lands intended for housing development nationwide to prepare for the program’s medium- to long-term phase.
“Nananawagan po ako sa mga kapwa kong mambabatas na suportahan ang NHDPF Act. Bigyan natin ang bawat pamilyang Pilipino ng isang maayos at disenteng bahay (I urge my fellow lawmakers to support the NHDPF Act. Let’s give every Filipino family a proper and decent home),” Go said.
“Magtulungan tayo na magkaroon ng maganda at komportableng buhay ang bawat Pilipino at mabigyan sila ng bagong pag-asa pagkatapos ng krisis na dulot ng Covid-19 (Let’s work together to provide each Filipino a comfortable life, and give them fresh hope after the Covid-19 crisis),” he said.
SB 203 mandates the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD), and its attached key shelter agencies, to intensify the implementation of the vital components of the NHDPF Act.
Under the proposed measure, the NHA will be the lead agency tasked to develop and implement various types of housing programs intended for the bottom 30 percent of the income population, which includes resettlement, housing programs for low-salaried government employees, settlements upgrading, and housing programs of calamity victims, among others.
The Social Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC) shall undertake social housing programs that will cater to the formal and informal sectors in the low-income bracket and to take charge of developing and administering social housing programs, particularly the Community Mortgage Program and its different modalities.
Meanwhile, the National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation (NHMFC) is mandated to increase the availability of affordable housing loans to finance the Filipino home buyers on their acquisition of housing units through the development and operation of a secondary market for home mortgages.
SB 203 provides that a total of PHP2.667 trillion shall be appropriated to the DHSUD and key shelter agencies for the implementation of the NHDPF Program over a 20-year period.
As such, PHP135.114 billion shall be appropriated annually through the General Appropriations Act over a period of 20 consecutive years, starting from the year immediately succeeding the effectivity of this Act, “or until such time that the total fund requirements provided for in this Act shall have been fully released.”
The Senate Committee on Urban Planning, Housing and Resettlement has already held its first committee hearing on the bill last year. (ia/PNA)