Higher Funding for Housing Urged

Citing the urgent need for decent and affordable homes, lawmakers are pushing for a higher 2022 budget for the government’s housing agency, Philstar reported. 

The Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) proposed a budget of P76 billion for next year, but the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) only allocated a budget of P6.39 billion for the DHSUD and its attached agencies.

Higher funding, according to Senator Risa Hontiveros, is necessary for the government agency to perform its mandate of providing access to sustainable housing communities, particularly those in the low-income bracket.

For his part, housing czar Eduardo del Rosario noted that the housing gap is likely to widen further next year, thereby requiring a budget increase to address the problem. The current backlog in the country is 6.5 million housing units. 

Seeking to solve this growing backlog, the DHSUD pushes for the enactment of the national housing financing bill, which enforces a P50 billion budget annually for the housing sector for the next 20 years. 

Housing Financing Bill

Formally called the National Housing Production and Development Financing Act, the pending legislation aims to fast-track housing development and guarantee enough government funds for socialized housing. 

Under the proposed law, the DHSUD will implement public housing, financing assistance schemes, public rental housing, and survey of proclaimed lands for socialized housing.

The National Housing Authority (NHA), on the other hand, is tasked to develop and execute resettlement, upgrading of settlements, and development of communities for calamity victims and low-salaried government employees. 

Meanwhile, ​​Social Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC) will oversee the community mortgage program, which assists organizations of underprivileged and homeless citizens to buy and develop a piece of land through community ownership.

Backlog Solutions

Last May, the Business Mirror reported the DHSUD was planning to partner with several local government units (LGUs) to build more affordable homes around the country. By the end of the year, they hope to sign at least 50 MOAs. LGUs are required to create a Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) and Local Shelter Plan (LSP) to enforce an optimized utilization of their lands.

The local governments of different cities in Metro Manila have likewise been building different socialized housing projects in partnership with shelter agencies.

Last July, San Juan City and NHA broke ground for the 23-story high-rise, in-city residential building in Barangay Batis, Manila Bulletin reported. The project will have a total of 549 residential units, featuring an average size of 28 square meters of floor area. It will have 11 commercial units and parking slots for cars and motorcycles. 

The city of Manila, meanwhile, bought a private lot in Sta. Ana in February to provide shelter for some 600 low-income informal settlers and homeless families, according to Philstar. The 6,003-square meter land was purchased for P111 million.

In a report from Business World, Pag-IBIG Fund disbursed a total of P4.66 billion of socialized housing loans in the first half of 2021. A total of 10,640 members from the minimum-wage and low-income sectors benefited from the loans. 

Members who earn up to P15,000 a month within the National Capital Region (NCR) and P12,000 per month outside NCR are eligible for the Pag-IBIG’s Affordable Housing Program. The agency provides a subsidized rate of 3 percent per annum for socialized home loans up to P580,000.

Private Sector’s Move

Meanwhile, the real estate industry believes that technology can help in addressing the housing backlog, as mentioned in this Business Mirror report. According to the Proptech Consortium of the Philippines, transparency and speed in development can help catch up with the 200,000 units required to be produced every year to solve the housing gap. 

AECOM, an infrastructure consulting firm, said that proptech and fintech can be used to promote housing affordability. The former, for one, can help customers obtain insurance and apply for loans. The latter, on the other hand, according to the Organization of Socialized and Economic Housing Developers, can make housing loans accessible to the unbanked.

Online real estate marketplaces, such as Lamudi, are an avenue for the property market to find affordable housing options. Last September, the company held a virtual housing fair, featuring different kinds of developments, including properties priced from P1.5M to P3M. It promoted various real estate deals, such as low monthly amortizations and downpayment discounts, from the country’s trusted developers. 

The online event was in partnership with proptech and fintech companies, including Nook, the country’s first mortgage broker and top financial institution BDO. The Lamudi Online Housing Fair will return next year.

Sources: Philstar, Senate, Business Mirror, Manila Bulletin, Business World

Photo via DepositPhotos

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