House panel adopts resolution to declare housing crisis

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 10) — A House of Representatives panel on Wednesday adopted a resolution that seeks to declare a housing crisis in the country.

The Committee on Housing and Urban Development approved the substitute resolution to HR 1468 crafted by its chairman Negros Occidental Rep. Francisco Benitez. It noted that there are 1.898 million informal settler families in the country, of which 478,899 reside in the National Capital Region, citing data from the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development.

The unnumbered resolution also said the government and the private sector have only built 777,879 housing units from July 2016 to June 2020—a far cry from the 6.796 million housing units needed by 2022 due to factors like funding, which averaged 0.74% of the national budget from 2010-2021, and regulatory and land costs.

"The country's vulnerability to natural disasters and the adverse impact of climate change threaten to displace families living in danger zones," it added, while also emphasizing threats caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the urgent need for sustainable housing, lawmakers are urging the DHSUD and other concerned agencies to establish an inventory of idle government land and to fast-track development of socialized housing in partnership with the private sector.

The department was also tasked to come up with, and maintain a system that will contain data on land inventory, land use plans, housing inventory, and list of beneficiaries. A database on housing loan beneficiaries shall also be generated by the agency to address multiple availment of socialized housing projects.

A shared information system will also be developed for faster issuance of project permits by the national agencies involved, lawmakers said. The Anti-Red Tape Authority was also ordered to strengthen cooperation with the DHSUD to eliminate bureaucratic red tape.

The DHSUD and the Department of Finance will also provide and maintain incentives and develop a framework for a dynamic housing finance system to encourage participation of the private sector.

The National Economic and Development Authority shall also promote the development of secondary cities and growth areas outside of the National Capital Region with the creation of settlement areas that provide opportunities and support to their communities, while the Department of Budget and Management was also pushed to increase allocation for key shelter agencies to ensure implementation of these programs.