HUDCC disputes CREBA allegations
() - December 15, 2000 - 12:00am
Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) spokesperson Ibarra Gutierrez disputed yesterday the allegations of the Chamber of Real Estate and Builders’ Associations (CREBA) which was published in The STAR on Dec. 13, 2000 entitled Statistics Belie HUDCC Housing Report – CREBA.

"Once again, we want to set the record straight and correct any misimpressions the article may have created, particularly on the alleged inaccuracies in our housing production report," Gutierrez said.

He clarified that the 274,727 shelter security units cited in the HUDCC report represented ongoing projects as of end-October 2000. Gutierrez added that "we never claimed these projects as the accomplishment of HUDCC alone, but rather of various key shelter agencies, government financial institutions, and the private sector. We would like to reiterate that our unit of measurement is "shelter security" which may refer to house and lot packages, housing units only, or lots only. In addition, the period covered by the report starts in June 1999."

Under previous administrations, the performance of the housing sector was based on "units of housing assistance" provided. By definition, housing assistance refers to the various services performed to complete construction of a housing unit. A single housing unit in the process of its completion may thus be provided with financial, guaranty, and technical services several times, all counted separately as various units of housing assistance.

With the establishment of the Presidential Commission on Mass Housing, a "Shelter Security" measure was established to provide a more tangible performance indicator. Shelter security refers to actual house and lots, home units, and residential lots developed.

"We have emphasized this definition of shelter security several times over in the past few months precisely in response to allegations that housing statistics we released were inaccurate. The insistence of some groups on rehashing the same charges only betrays their continued lack of understanding of the housing sector," Gutierrez said.

He further explained that the staistics from the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) and the National Statistics Office (NSO) did not actually contradict the HUDCC report. "Since shelter security includes development of lot-only and home-unit packages, the number of building permits issued does not have a one-to-one correspondence with the number of shelter security units started or currently ongoing.

Besides, housing production only constitutes a small part of the entire construction sector, and slow growth in construction for the third quarter (of 2000) does not necessarily imply sluggish growth in the housing sector for the entire period covered by the report," he emphasized.

He also observed that the article contained "misleading" citations of figures obtained from various government housing agencies. According to Gutierrez, "The statistics cited from HLURB (Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board), aside from covering only a five-month period from January to May, referred only to licenses to sell issued to private developers. As we have repeatedly taken pains to point out, the statistics in the HUDCC report both private sector and government housing initiatives. The inferences on NHMFC (National Home Mortgage Finance Corp.) and the CMP (Community Mortgage Program) likewise fail to take into account the processing time for CMP applications."

Gutierrez, however, expressed the hope that the critics of the HUDCC report would make an effort to understand the definitions behind the statistics. "We have spent the better part of the year explaining again and again the coverage of the report, the performance measure utilized, and the source of the data. It seems, however, that our critics still do not undestand since they continue to raise the same old charges. We hope that this reiteration of our explanation will at last grant them some amount of comprehension," he declared.

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