‘Government needs 2,602 housing units daily to address backlog’

Helen Flores - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – The government needs to build at least 2,602 units of socialized housing a day to address the 5.7 million backlog in the next six years, Vice President Leni Robredo said yesterday.

Robredo said initial figures gathered by the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) showed the number of informal settler families rose from 1.5 million in 2011 to 2.2 million in 2015.

“This is despite the one million housing units subsidized by the government since 2010,” Robredo, HUDCC chair, said in her speech at the Housing Solutions Congress at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City.

She said the total housing backlog could reach 5.7 million this year, as a result of accumulated need and future or recurrent need.

“If you divide the projected backlog of 5.7 million by the number of days in six years, you will find that we need to build 2,602 homes per day in the next six years. And the clock is already ticking,” Robredo said.

The Vice President said they were looking at various ways to effectively reduce the number of informal settler families in the country, including the provision of incentives to private developers to entice them to venture into social housing.

“We are looking at a one-stop-shop concept where they only go to one place and much of the paperwork will be done by the shelter agencies themselves,” Robredo said.

“We also understand that some tax breaks are needed in order to make it worthwhile for the private sector to go into socialized housing,” she added.

Robredo noted that providing private real estate companies tax breaks would encourage them to build low-cost housing for the poor.

“There are really a few number of private developers who are willing to go (into) socialized housing. And because of the red tape in the government the investors are losing interest,” Robredo said.

The Vice President admitted the government could not address the housing backlog alone and would need the help of private partners.

Robredo also cautioned the public against fake “Libreng Pabahay” or free housing program.

Last July 29, several people queued at the National Housing Authority (NHA) in Quezon City claiming to have heard about a government “Libreng Pabahay program being implemented on a first-come, first-serve basis.”

The NHA office issued a clarification on the same day but people continued to flock to that Quezon City branch, the HUDCC said in a statement also yesterday.

According to HUDCC, the government only subsidizes the cost of housing for the homeless and underprivileged but it does not provide housing for free.

Robredo visited housing units at the Bistekville 2 in Novaliches, Quezon City earlier yesterday.

In the afternoon, she met with representatives from civil society groups as well as foreign agencies to boost livelihood projects in rural areas.

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