Sustainable housing solutions for climate refugees sought
Following the devastation of Supertyphoon “Yolanda,” developers have vowed to seek more sustainable solutions to address the housing backlog. Although a full evaluation of damages from Yolanda is still underway, the country will face rising homelessness from climate refugees, or people who have lost decent shelter from extreme weather.
The Subdivision and Housing Developers Association (SHDA), the largest group of private developers in the country, acknowledged that the effects of environmental degradation, and not just poverty, were also partly to blame for the national housing backlog of 3.9 million units.
According to the National Economic and Development Authority, housing is among the country’s critical economic indicators. Its Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016 notes that housing construction would also be affected by natural and manmade disasters, and policies on resettlement.
SHDA is seeking support for more public-private partnerships (PPPs). “We need this especially in the construction of socialized low-rise buildings in urbanized areas for the poor, including resettlement of informal settlers, as well as legislation that would focus on the housing deficit,” said Arlene Keh, SHDA governor and committee chair for socialized midrise buildings.
The group has proposed that developers take on the construction investments involved in the PPP, while government takes care of providing buildable land and extending housing loans to the poor. In legislation, SHDA has thrown support for Senate Bill No. 1104, which will create the Department of Housing and Urban Development (DHUD).
“Establishing the DHUD, rather than a council, will mean more decision-making power and direct access to the President on housing policies and issues,” said Paul Tanchi, SHDA chair. “It will work to raise compliance and performance from other shelter agencies. The department would be focused specifically on housing needs, and will have the expertise and the budget to accomplish this.”
Filed by Sen. Loren Legarda, SB 1104 will also look into the availability of basic services and facilities, accessibility and proximity to job sites, and other economic opportunities in housing development and resettlement areas for the poor.
The bill also looks into another primary housing concern, the burdensome paperwork and process involved in government housing programs. Homeowners and homebuyers are typically overloaded with repetitive information requirements, which the bill hopes to eliminate.
“There are issues of affordability, access to housing finance, and creating energy-efficient housing solutions. There is a need for families and households to be resettled into safer grounds, far from natural threats and waterways,” Tanchi added. “The creation of the DHUD will help us confront these issues and lead us to a coordinated national housing development program.”
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