NHA targets to build 500,000 houses in 2017 to solve backlog

MANILA, Philippines – More than 500,000 families will be provided homes this year – equivalent to 30% of the 1.5 million housing backlog, said the National Housing Authority (NHA).

NHA General Manager Marcelino Escalada Jr made this commitment during the first housing summit of President Rodrigo Duterte's administration on Wednesday, February 8.

Among the modalities that the NHA is offering is providing homes that informal settlers can pay P120,000 over 30 years. (READ: Robredo: Gov't must build over 2,600 homes a day to beat backlog

Escalada explained that beneficiaries will start paying P200 a month 5 years after the award. Every 5 years after that, the monthly dues will increase by P200 until they become P1,000 every month in the last 5 years:

Escalada noted that providing homes for free would be tough for the agency.

"Wherever you will go, there is really no free housing. It is always affordable. I cannot see a model. I have been to Korea, Japan, and US, there is no free housing," he said after the media briefing.

However, Chairperson Terry Ridon of the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor, and National Anti-Poverty Commission chief Liza Maza, who were also present during the summit, said that awarding of free homes should be considered as one of the ownership schemes.

"We want to push how we would be able to provide mass public housing because this is really a problem since [the poorest of the poor] cannot pay the dues of socialized housing program," said Maza.

Escaping monthly dues

Nearly a hundred members of urban poor group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) went to the NHA on Wednesday to appeal for housing aid.

Among them was urban poor leader Stella Poblete, who was relocated to Bulacan province from Novaliches in Quezon City. Poblete admitted that she has only paid two months out of her 3 years of residence in a relocation site in San Jose del Monte town.

SEEKING AID. Housewife and urban poor leader Stella Poblete airs her community's plight in a rally in front of the National Housing Authority. Photo by Patty Pasion/Rappler

SEEKING AID. Housewife and urban poor leader Stella Poblete airs her community's plight in a rally in front of the National Housing Authority.

Photo by Patty Pasion/Rappler

"Kahit sabihin natin na 'binibigay nila na good for 5 years, marami pong hindi nakabayad lalo na 'pag nagkasakit 'yung anak namin," said Poblete, a mother who recently lost a child to cancer.

(Even if they say it is free for 5 years, many of us are unable to pay, especially when our children fall ill.)

"Ang layo na namin sa kabihasnan, napakalayo ng trabaho ng mga asawa namin. Magkano lang po ang sinasahod, magkano na lang po ang natitira sa pamilya?" she added.

(We are too far from the urban center. Our husbands are farther from their workplaces. Given that we earn so little, what would be left for our family?)

Other protesters said they are willing to pay the NHA's monthly amortization if only the government could help them find livelihood opportunities near their relocation sites.

Building communities

Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr, also the incumbent chief of the Housing and Urban Coordinating Council (HUDCC), said they will be looking into policies that would bring convenience to NHA beneficiaries, especially in terms of nearby employment.

Ridon said the Duterte administration will prioritize the provision of in-city resettlement sites and construction of comprehensive townships that are complete with public utilities and within commercial and industrial areas for livelihood.

The NHA already has a pilot model of this township development project that will be built 40 to 60 kilometers away from urban centers. Escalada said one pilot site will be built each for Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao. – Rappler.com

Patty Pasion

Patty leads the Rappler+ membership program. She used to be a Rappler multimedia reporter who covered politics, labor, and development issues of vulnerable sectors.