A house for every Filipino family: Imee Marcos’ New Year wish

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“Wish ko lang talaga na magkaroon ng sariling bahay at disenteng tirahan ang mahihirap nating kababayan simula sa 2019 at sa mga susunod pang taon!” Ilocos Norte Governor Imee R. Marcos said in a statement in advance of the New Year celebrations. “Dapat walang Pilipino ang namamahay sa mga kariton, natutulog sa bangketa at walang disenteng tirahan.”

(“My wish is for the poor to have their own homes where they can live modestly starting 2019 onwards. No Filipino should dwell in pushcarts, sleep in sidewalks, and have no decent homes.”)

Alarmed by the projected 6.8 million backlog in housing units by 2022, Gov. Marcos said the government must be more aggressive in addressing the problem, otherwise, the number will keep on increasing.

Marcos noted that in Metro Manila alone, shelter agencies must be able to provide at least 300,000 housing units to beneficiaries annually to arrest, if not eliminate, urban congestion in highly-populated areas.

She said a concrete first step would be for the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council and the other key shelter agencies to come up with a new comprehensive housing roadmap.

“The new housing roadmap should provide solutions on how to increase housing production and provide shelter affordability through a comprehensive housing subsidy program for targeted beneficiaries,” she said.

Marcos said a new Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development together with National Housing Authority, Pag-Ibig, and local government units nationwide can work together to put in place a comprehensive housing program to provide decent shelter for low income and poor Filipino families.

Collaboration with LGUs is crucial, Marcos stressed, to ensure that services and facilities like water system, electricity, roads and other amenities can be included in the planning for the construction of housing projects.

She underscored how Pag-Ibig contributions are religiously being deducted from salaries of government workers every month, yet there are no comprehensive housing projects being implemented for its members, especially for teachers and other low-salaried government workers.

The governor stressed how available units in most housing projects of private developers remain too expensive for minimum and above-minimum wage earners to afford.

“The booming real estate industry has not made it easier for many of our kababayans to buy their own houses, or even afford renting habitable dwellings,” she said.

“A state-funded shelter program to provide affordable housing for low-income earners like our teachers and government employees and even overseas contract workers, who have little or no funds at all to buy their dream houses must be put in place immediately,” she added.

Marcos said the housing development program called BLISS (Bagong Lipunan Improvement of Sites and Services) implemented during the late ‘70s up to the late ‘80s provided for the shelter needs of low-income families, freed up space and resolved the population congestion problems of urban communities.

Since 2011, Marcos said, there has not been an exhaustive housing inventory by the government.

Data from the 2011 inventory showed a housing deficit of more than 3 million units – 663,283 units for socialized housing, 1. 9 million for economic housing, and 462,000 for mid-cost housing.

“From now until 2030, we need over 6 million units more: 1.45 million units for those who cannot afford any housing, 1.58 million units for socialized housing, 2.58 million units for economic housing and 605,000 units for low cost housing. The bulk of the deficit is in economic housing which is likely above 3.7 million units,” she explained.

“We should pity the poor who dream of having their own homes. Many of them are just renting, or squeezing themselves in crowded slum areas for a piece of lot on which they build shanties. Government must also construct housing units for rent at low prices for families who cannot yet afford to buy, especially those in congested slum areas who do not wish to be resettled far from their workplaces,” she said.