Providing housing for low-income families


Among the basic needs of the poor living in urban areas, the one that makes the biggest contribution to enhancing their human dignity is decent housing. If we consider that food, shelter, clothing and education are among the most basic of their needs, it is shelter that is the most visible manifestation of the dignity of a human being. The poor can survive on rice, fish and vegetables and maintain their dignity vis-a-vis the well-to-do.

The Filipino poor is also very resourceful in maintaining a dignified and clean appearance even with the barest of wardrobe, resorting to frequent washing of clothes and maintaining them in good condition.  In urban areas, their children usually find little difficulty having access to public schools. But what offends most their human dignity is to be forced to live in hovels and make-shift “barong barongs” in dirty and unhygienic slum areas. Such inhuman living conditions are what lower very much the self-esteem of the poor.

That is why it is very important that there be sustained and vigorous effort of the government (both national and local), the business sector, and civil society to implement the provisions of R.A. No.7279, whose objectives are to uplift conditions of underprivileged and homeless citizens in urban and resettlement areas through decent housing at affordable cost, coupled with basic services and employment opportunities. To achieve this primary objective, every effort should be exerted to ensure the rational use and development of urban lands that will lead to the following:

— Equitable utilization of residential lands in urban areas, focusing on the needs and requirements of underprivileged and homeless citizens and not simply on free market forces;

— Optimization of the use and productivity of land and urban resources;

— Development of urban areas conducive to commercial and industrial activities, which can generate more economic opportunities for the people;

— Reduction in urban dysfunctions, particularly those that adversely affect public health, safety and ecology; and

— Access to land and housing by the underprivileged and homeless citizens.

These were reminders issued by Atty. R. Ojastro III, special assistant then to the late DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo, in a recent workshop on socialized housing sponsored by the Center for Research and Communication for LGU officials, officers of cooperatives, top executives of Pag-Ibig Fund and economists specializing on the economics of housing. The participants were reminded of the harsh reality that the housing backlog in the Philippines faced by informal settlers and homeless families is estimated at close to four million units. Region IV has the largest backlog of about 850,000, followed by the National Capital Region, which has close to 500,000, and Region III, with about 460,000 units. These are the regions that have become highly urbanized and are in great need of innovative approaches to socialized housing.

In the opening remarks I gave during the workshop, I encouraged the participants with the information that more than before, now is the best time to push aggressively projects for socialized housing. The first reason is that the financial system is awash with liquidity, the Philippine savings rate having risen to 30 percebt or more of GDP, compared to the 18 to 20 percent that characterized most of the last 30 years. These savings can be mainly attributed to the remittances from OFWs, whose priority is housing. Even the Pag-Ibig Fund has recognized this by upping the financing limit to P6 million.

Another happy event is that both large- and medium-scale real estate and housing developers like the SMDC, PHINMA Properties, DMCI Homes, Alveo and Avida have revolutionized low-cost and medium-cost housing by focusing on vertical or high-rise construction in sites in the very center of urban concentrations. Even low middle-income households, especially those with OFWs, are learning how to adapt their lifestyles to condominium units in the middle of cities.  This can spill over to socialized housing that can be planned in tandem with some of these high-rise housing units.

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  • Andre Mitchell

    Squatting is profitable.
    Squatting is a mindset.
    Squatting is the preferred way of life on the common indolent pinoy.

    Sure, we can give them housing assistance, basic services and employment. But it is much much easier to just squat and beg in the streets. It is a very viable way of life. 

    Are they really “forced to live in hovels and make-shift barong barongs in dirty and unhygienic slum areas”? NO!. Squatting is the easy way out of the rat race.

    Simply providing socialized housing and employment will not solve the “homeless citizen” problem in the urban Manila. Squatting should be made non-profitable – both for the squatter and the politikos protecting them. Rights of the legal land owners should be protected, not the squatter votes.

    It is common knowledge in Philippine elections – you have to win the squatter votes. SQUATTER POWER! Is it any wonder why the “homeless citizen” problem never gets solved?

    • Yzel Kim

      You need not be poor to stay in the slum. It is either that you  get all soaked in smoke and dust pollutions traveling your way from work or school hours in Manila to your home in Laguna, Rizal, Bulacan or Cavite. Long tedious ride is most likely to send you to a mental asylum with the usually heavy traffic. Its always been mentioned that housing for urban poor is important. People need not travel that much if the government adopts  some new and conventional approach to housing not only for the poor but the whole citizenry that needs dwelling in places near their schools or work areas.

  • CFC Emmaus

    As long as politician focus on using the poor masses for their election bids and not really uplifting them by providing income opportunities, I guess this thought of Mr. Villegas remains a textbook case only.

    Look at the supposed squatters areas, they even have modern house appliances. Only their houses remain tattered to have a semblance of poverty when there really is none.

    CFC Emmaus

  • Garo Ungaro

    There should be (3) blueprints design approved by the architects,engineers endorsed by the local government as the basic rural houses be built… tested on all the basic hot/rainy,typhoon, earthquakes,and tropical oriented dwellings were raw materials are basic available locally with price acceptable to the average/poor dwellers…If, dwelling problem has been there, every disasters and calamities…by this time probably, they can come up with acceptable housing design acceptable to the average poor….at a package price…

  • JJReyes

    For rural areas, Philippines should consider the use of native materials to build pro-poor housing. There is an internationally recognized, environmentally friendly technology for the treatment of bamboo. The results are an extremely durable product with fire retardant properties that is highly resistant against termites, wood boring insects and beetles. Bamboo structures flex during earthquakes and they can withstand high winds from typhoons. Bamboo matures in 7 years and absorb 100 tons of carbon dioxide per hectare. There is a Hawaii company manufacturing bamboo bungalows in Vietnam for sale all over the world. The kits are shipped in containers. On site assembly takes 3 to 5 days.

  • joboni96

    mula sa bentahe ng kapitalista
    at kanilang ganansya
    pa rin si berni

    mahiya ka naman sa lolo mo

    sa punto de vista naman
    ng nakakaraming pilipino

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