Empowering housing communities
A community is among the strongest building blocks of a successful society. It is vital in achieving a robust economy. Hence, the importance of empowering communities toward nation-building cannot be overemphasized.
In my last three columns, I discussed three of the four banner programs in our 2040 National Housing and Urban Development Sector Plan namely: Creating Spaces, Transforming Spaces into Communities, and Making Communities Accessible and Affordable.
The last program, Empowering Communities, completes the housing sector’s direction in achieving our vision of sustainable housing in well-planned communities for every Filipino family. It recognizes the significance of empowering all stakeholders that make up the web of housing communities—from the residents to those helping us enable them to decide, manage and evaluate their own growth according to shared goals and responsibilities.
We will implement four sub-programs, namely the National Urban Data/Information Management System, Sustainable Human Settlements and Urban Development Awards Program, Philippine Urban Forum, and Legislative Reform Program and Capacity Development Program—all geared toward community empowerment.
We acknowledge the need for an integrated, accessible database to manage all information on housing and urban development nationwide. This will guide us in identifying and assessing protected areas, public and private lands, informal settler families and beneficiary profiles, socialized housing projects, and land use and shelter plans of LGUs, among others.
We will optimize the use of information and communications technology to extend our horizon in knowing our beneficiaries’ requirements, available resources for equitable distribution and strategies.
We will rally the support of government agencies to integrate all facets of knowledge management and build a system that will be mutually beneficial across sectoral needs.
Of course, reassurance and reinforcement are vital. This is why we are putting up a mechanism to recognize our partners in development—local government units, government agencies, non-government organizations and individuals that demonstrate exemplary performance in living up to the principles of community development while inspiring others.
We are banking on motivating and assisting our partners, and thus, we will implement an award and incentive system to encourage participation and integration of processes. In line with this, the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development, through our 16 regional offices nationwide, has started federating and confederating homeowners’ associations to empower them. Latest data showed we have more than 25,000 registered HOAs throughout the country.
We will also regularly hold a national forum to serve as a multistakeholder engagement platform for dialogues and innovations in the sector thereby creating a stable avenue for information exchange, promoting broad-based inputs and securing financial and political espousal for the industry.
To sustain the support that we need, we will push for a wide-scale review of relevant policy agenda to keep pace with emerging challenges in these changing times. One of our priorities is to update the Urban Development and Housing Act, Land Reform Law, and Environmental Impact Statement System.
At the center of all these are the communities we serve—every group and person that make up a housing ecosystem. These include LGUs, HOAs, community organizations and cooperatives. They must be equipped with knowledge and skills to allow them to participate in directing, implementing and monitoring our housing and urban development initiatives.
Likewise, we are boosting our own ranks in the Department to ensure that we can properly deliver the services that the Filipino people deserve. Together, we will learn and innovate ways to better serve the public.
Before I end, I would like to quote American economist Ben Bernanke who said: “Neighborhoods and communities are complex organisms that will be resilient only if they are healthy along a number of interrelated dimensions, much as a human body cannot be healthy without adequate air, water, rest and food.”
With empowered housing communities, we look forward to a vigorous society with inclusive participation in economic activities.
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