Filipinos deserve not just better, but the best social services from the government.
The Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) is bent on delivering quality service as Secretary Eduardo del Rosario vowed to provide low-cost housing projects for all Filipinos.
"Despite some birth pains, we have started laying solid foundations for the future of housing in our country," he said in an interview on Friday.
Del Rosario said it is crucial that President Rodrigo Duterte supports access to decent, safe, and affordable housing units in sustainable communities for the underprivileged and homeless.
Signed into law by Duterte on Feb. 14, 2019, DHSUD was created under Republic Act 11201 and was tasked to establish Housing One-Stop Processing Centers in regions to centralize the processing of housing-related documents.
Despite the challenges, the department strives to exercise its mandate under the Duterte administration’s flagship program Building Adequate, Livable, Affordable, and Inclusive Filipino communities (BALAI).
"The program aims to improve government efforts in addressing Filipino housing needs as well as to engage in the private sector. As chairman, I believe that we should all take the same stand and look in the same direction guided by BALAI Filipino," he said.
The DHSUD, along with its key shelter agencies (KSAs) -- the Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-IBIG Fund), National Housing Authority (NHA), Social Housing Finance Corporation, and the National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation -- in coordination with the Human Settlements Adjudication Commission, formulated a national strategy to ensure the alignment of housing policies, programs, and projects.
"In keeping President Duterte's directive under the country's development goals, we want every Filipino, regardless of their social status ay magkaroon ng disenteng bubong na masisilungan, bahay na may maayos na kuryente at tubig (to have decent shelter and complete with electricity and water supply), a house that they can call their own and can be proud of," del Rosario said.
Del Rosario made sure all houses are in safe communities and "not prone to calamities or disaster".
Since its establishment, DHSUD has implemented policies, plans, and regulations related to land use and the creation of housing and development of homeowners’ associations (HOAs).
Services amid pandemic
Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, the DHSUD and its KSAs continued their work "so that the creation of their new department would be brought into purpose."
In 2020, the NHA provided 115,132 units, focusing on the needs of the low-income bracket and underprivileged households in urban areas.
Pag-IBIG Fund, meanwhile, boasts an all-time high financial statement in 2020 with PHP31.13 billion savings and PHP63.75 billion loan takeout, enabling a 93.68 percent basis of dividends for its members.
The DHSUD has facilitated the accreditation of 29 socialized housing projects and the approval of escrow agreements of 50 main condominium and subdivision projects.
As the pandemic rages on, DHSUD has a policy on loan moratoriums in housing finance and movement of deadlines and interruptions of periods for compliance with requirements, benefitting more than 5.5 million members.
The DHSUD also allowed the resumption of real estate activities, provided that strict health protocols must be observed.
Over 55,000 workers have returned to work and the construction of more than 400,000 housing units has resumed.
Del Rosario cited the huge contribution of local government units (LGUs) in the effective implementation of housing plans.
Work continued even amid the pandemic, with seven housing projects unveiled in December last year.
Memoranda of agreements (MOAs) with LGUs likewise paved the way for the construction of more housing projects and resettlement sites for informal settler families (ISFs) nationwide.
"These pacts are testament to President Duterte’s commitment in providing affordable and decent housing to underprivileged Filipino families and by establishing a strong bond with LGUs, DHSUD will succeed in reaching out and helping the majority of Filipinos who wish to have a house of their own," the housing czar said.
Del Rosario is eyeing to sign over 50 similar MOAs this year.
The housing department also entered into partnerships with other government line agencies to boost various programs
Among these are deals are with the Homeowners Associations Federations and Confederations and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG); and the creation of a technical working group that will institutionalize the department's efforts to run after illegal developers and bogus brokers engaged in the illegal selling of real estate properties, through a joint MOA on anti-illegal real estate practices.
There were followed by the creation of the Anti-Illegal Real Estate Practices Inter-Agency Task Force, composed of the DILG, Philippine National Police, Department of Justice, National Bureau of Investigation, Land Registration Authority, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and the Professional Regulation Commission, to push for an intensified whole-of-government approach against real estate scammers and illegal brokers.
Together with the Department of Agrarian Reform, the DHSUD rolled out housing projects for farmers, starting in Umingan, Pangasinan.
The agency and the Department of Transportation made sure ISFs hit by the ongoing North-South Extension Railway Project would be relocated properly.
To ramp up disaster risk management and climate adaptation efforts within localities, DHSUD has prescribed the land use planning and zoning standards for the formulation of Comprehensive Land Use Plans and Zoning Ordinances for local governments.
It has also partnered with various agencies to operationalize its mission on disaster preparedness and response, including the Covid-19 pandemic, Taal Volcano eruption, and the landslide incident in Naga, Cebu.
20-year housing roadmap
To sustain the initial efforts of the housing sector, DHSUD created a 20-year housing and urban development strategic roadmap dubbed “Sustainable Housing and Well-planned Community for all Filipinos” which aims to provide adequate and affordable houses for Filipinos.
Del Rosario said it will cover strategic plans and programs until the 2040, which is aligned with the "AmBisyon Natin 2040" development plan of the National Economic Development Authority, both representing the long-term vision and aspirations of Filipinos.
The national housing strategic plan, he added, is intended to accelerate the building of high-quality but affordable housing projects, in partnership with the private sector.
It also resolves the immediate housing needs of all ISFs.
Del Rosario said the 20-year strategic roadmap will ensure continuity of housing projects and urban development programs in the country beyond this year.
"The roadmap envisions better, greener, and smarter human settlements and urban systems in the Philippines with banner projects aiming to create spaces, transform spaces into communities, make communities accessible, and for affordable and empowered communities," del Rosario said.