New Housing Chief Assumes Office, Vows to Close Housing Gap

Business executive Jose “Jerry” Acuzar is the new secretary of the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD). He succeeded Eduardo del Rosario, who served the government agency for almost two years.

A prominent name in the real estate circle, Acuzar is known for being the owner of the 400-hectare development Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in Bagac, Bataan. The heritage destination features old, ancestral homes transplanted from different parts of the Philippines.

The new housing chief also serves as the chairman of the property development firm New San Jose Builders, Inc. (NSJBI). The company has horizontal and vertical residential projects in various cities in Metro Manila and nearby provinces. They are also behind the largest indoor arena in the world, the Philippine Arena, located in Bulacan.

New Housing Chief’s Background

Acuzar hails from Balanga, Bataan. His humble beginnings included working as a cutter-welder in his older brother’s iron workshop while finishing a vocational course in drafting at the Bataan National School of Arts and Trades (now known as the Bataan Peninsula State University). 

Eventually, he relocated to Manila and pursued a bachelor’s degree in Architecture at the Technological Institute of the Philippines. To support his studies, he set up a welding business in Quezon City and worked as a draftsman in Tondo, Manila.

The DHSUD expressed their delight over the appointment of the new housing chief. Assistant Secretary Melissa Aradanas said that it will be a “huge boost” to the housing sector.

Shelter Assistance for Northern Luzon

Among the first initiatives Acuzar took on as the new housing chief is the shelter assistance for families who have been affected by the recent earthquake in Northern Luzon. Through an online meeting, he told department officials and key personnel from shelter agencies to provide emergency shelter assistance promptly to the families whose houses have been damaged. 

He ordered close coordination between regional shelter clusters and their counterparts from other member agencies to facilitate speedy implementation on the ground.

Last July 30, the DSWD’s Disaster Response Operations Monitoring and Information Center reported that there were 1,581 families or 5,226 individuals in temporary shelters in 43 evacuation centers. About 6,490 families or 27,213 persons were staying with relatives or friends in Ilocos Sur, La Union, Pangasinan, Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga and Mountain Province. 

The wrecked houses at the time were estimated at 14,798. Of that number, 216 were completely knocked down.

Extending assistance to the affected families, the Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-IBIG Fund) allocates a P3 billion calamity loan budget for its members in Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, and Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), Business World reported. 

Qualified members can borrow up to 80 percent of their total Pag-IBIG savings, which include their monthly contributions, employer’s contributions, and accumulated dividends earned. The loan carries the lowest interest rate in the market, 5.95 percent per annum.

Aside from the calamity loan, the shelter financing agency launched Lingkod Pag-IBIG On-Wheels, a mobile branch that goes around the provinces affected by the earthquake. They also arranged on-the-ground service desks near evacuation areas and government centers to improve accessibility of services to members.

Solution to Housing Gap

On his first official day as the head of the housing department, Acuzar met the heads of DHSUD’s key shelter agencies. These included Home Development Fund or Pag-IBIG Fund CEO Acmad Rizaldy Moti, Social Housing Finance Corporation President Ricardo Arnolfo Cabling, National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation President Carlo Luis Rabat, and National Housing Authority General Manager Joeben Tai. 

The top executives discussed their respective functions, achievements, and plans for the housing sector in relation to their agency mandates. Meanwhile, Acuzar talked about his vision of addressing the housing backlog in less than six years with the help of the shelter agencies.

The subject of closing the housing gap forms part of the panel tracks featured at the upcoming The Outlook 2022: Philippine Real Estate Conference, happening on August 31, 2022. Prominent personalities in the real estate industry will discuss where affordable housing is headed and what industry players are doing to provide safe and decent housing for an affordable price.

Lamudi invites real estate professionals to join the learning and networking event. Interested participants can buy conference tickets here.

Sources: DHSUD, Business World

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