The Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) expects to start the construction of various housing projects under the Pambansang Pabahay Para sa Pilipino Program in the first semester of the year.
DHSUD Secretary Jose Rizalino Acuzar said the actual construction of mid and high-rise buildings that are part of the Pambansang Pabahay program may take up to two years.
“I am optimistic that we can start with the construction of the projects with complete documentary and legal requirements in a few months,” Acuzar said. “And we expect to go full blast within the year.”
Since its launching in September or a few weeks after Acuzar took the helm at DHSUD, the Pambansang Pabahay Para sa Pilipino Program has already attracted interest from 47 local government units with the signing of memoranda of understanding with the department.
Of the 47 LGUs from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, 12 had already broken ground for their housing projects. The President led the latest groundbreaking ceremony in Palayan City last December 21.
The flagship housing program also got the backing of several government financial institutions (GFIs) like the Home Development Mutual Fund or Pag-IBIG Fund, which allocated P250 billion for the program; the Land Bank of the Philippines, the Government Service Insurance System, the Development Bank of the Philippines and the Social Security System.
The program was also boosted by the support of the country’s private developers’ groups, like the Subdivision and Housing Developers Association Inc., the National Real Estate Association Inc. and the Organization of Socialized and Economic Housing Developers of the Philippines.
“Kailangan po nating magsama-sama at magtulong-tulong upang makamit ang pangarap ng ating mga kababayan na magkaroon ng sariling tahanan na disente, ligtas at abot kaya,” Acuzar said.
Based on the Philippine Development Plan (PDP), the government’s housing program has suffered under the weight of low allocation and utilization of funding, lack of suitable land, and delays in permits and clearances.
The housing program was saddled with damage caused by natural hazard events. The PDP said almost half a million houses were damaged due to disasters between 2016 and 2021.
In order to address the growing housing backlog, which was pegged at 6.8 million in 2017–2022, the government intends to strengthen public rental housing as an option for those who cannot afford home ownership.
The government recognized that there are fiscal challenges to meet resource requirements for housing production, low absorptive capacity of the National Housing Authority (NHA), and ownership affordability issues.
“The impact of disasters on housing, along with the lessons from Covid-19, underline the need to revisit requirements on location, design standards, and open spaces to address public health risks, build resilience to disasters, and improve the livability of human settlements,” the PDP stated.
The PDP stated that only 96,269 socialized housing units were approved between 2017 and 2020, which indicated unaffordability. From 2001 to 2018, some 10.16 percent of the housing supply has gone to the socialized segment and the shares have been decreasing.
The document also stated that the NHA, the government’s housing production arm, has a mean budget utilization rate (BUR) of 61.38 percent from 2016 to 2022. This was at 19.13 percent in 2019 due to institutional bottlenecks and 23.03 percent in 2020 due mainly to the Covid-19 pandemic. -30-