Lawmaker urges fund hike to address housing backlog

MANILA -- The chairman of the House committee on housing and urban development on Tuesday called for a fund increase in the Philippine housing sector to address the persistent housing backlog in the country.

In a statement, Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo Albee Benitez, panel chairman, said the proposed PHP4.795-billion housing budget in the 2018 National Expenditure Program (NEP) is 68.87 percent lower compared to this year's budget.

The National Housing Authority (NHA) gets the bulk of the housing budget with PHP2.235 billion, while the Social Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC) gets an allocation of PHP773.63 million.

The NHA budget for next year is 82.38 percent lower than this year's budget and will be devoted to resettlement for informal settlers and housing for military and police personnel.

We have long been grappling with homelessness and each year the country's housing needs, especially in urban areas, keep on swelling along with population growth and rapid urbanization, Benitez said.

Benitez cited the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) which revealed that the country's total housing needs will balloon to 6.8 million by 2022, including the 2 million housing backlog from previous years.

Of the 6.8 million projected backlog, some 760,400 housing needs are estimated for this year; 774,441 in 2018; 788,773 in 2019; 803,405 in 2020; 818,363 in 2021; and 833,619 in 2022.

The lawmaker noted that the government should allocate more funding for housing programs for poor and low-income families to address the backlog problem.

Benitez also pointed out that there is no budget for permanent housing for disaster victims.

It is deeply disconcerting that housing is left neglected by the government when shelter is one of the most basic human needs and the most visible manifestations of human dignity, Benitez said.

The government's 'Build, Build, Build' (BBB) program should not just concentrate on transportation infrastructure. Building affordable and adequate homes for poor Filipino families should be part and parcel of our efforts to ensure inclusive and sustainable development, he added.

Source: Philippine News Agency