Robredo cuts red tape in socialized housing projects

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo, the housing chief of the Duterte administration, streamlined the number of requirements for socialized housing projects to 9 from the previous 27.

This will help communities and homeowners' associations to apply for the Community Mortgage Program (CMP), which is implemented by the Social Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC) to assist legally organized associations of underprivileged and homeless citizens to buy a land under community ownership.

The new rules on cutting red tape for CMP were signed by Robredo – who also serves as the chairperson of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) – in Naga on Thursday, August 18.

"SHFC itself will procure several documents from government agencies and local government units on behalf the communities," SHFC president Ana Oliveros said in a statement.

SHFC said socialized housing projects have been delayed in the past due to conflicting registrations of homeowners' associations in the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB).

For years, stakeholders had to contend with red tape, taking them as long as two years for documents to be processed.

"We want to make our services more efficient so we can scale up the number of families we can serve," Robredo said.

The new rules are also intended to help prevent communities from being subjected to the payment of illegal "facilitation fees."

"Ultimately, our goal is streamline all processes and processing time will be reduced to 15 days from 30 days," Robredo said.

For the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), beneficiaries of housing programs had to be absent from work and incur additional travel expenses for the processing of capital gains tax exemptions (CGTE).

Online integrated database

Under the proposed agreements, the HLURB is developing an online integrated database for the registration of homeowners, while the BIR will decentralize the processing of CGTE applications.

The HLURB is also working with the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to come up with a harmonized land use plan that will eliminate the need for communities to get another level of clearance from DAR to convert agricultural to residential lands for on-site projects.

SHFC said it will also coordinate with the Land Registration Authority (LRA) to facilitate the issuance of the titles covering community-housing projects.

"This is also in line with our strategy to mainstream community-driven approaches to urban development and housing," Robredo said. – Rappler.com