WHILE commercial property developers are mandated by law to allot 20 percent of their investments to socialized housing, many have not been complying with it because of the view that mass housing is a huge cost.
But for Charlito Ayco, Habitat for Humanity Foundation executive director, socialized housing must not be viewed as a cost but an investment, because of its massive effects to allied industries and the communities where these are being put up.
“Imagine, if the [developers]go into socialized housing, they need to buy wood, carpentry materials and hire from local hands, which in turn perks up the local economy and the suppliers of these needed materials,” he said.
Government has to enhance its incentives program or subsidies for developers to get into massive socialized housing programs, Ayco said.
He proposed that government revisit the socialized housing program costing. This is actually the bone of contention.
The allotment for socialized housing is P400,000 and this was increased to P450,000, but what the developers are asking is the market should be between P600,000 and P700,000 each unit.
Ayco said that developers are asking if the government can subsidize that portion. They raised this suggestion two years ago, except to increase it to P450,000.
“How do you now bridge the gap between the market rates and what people can afford? The answer to this is government subsidy,” he stressed.
“So we must convince the government now to look at socialized housing subsidies not as a cost, but as an investment which can perk up the local economies where socialized housing projects must be erected,” Ayco added.
He said that for socialized housing projects to be successful, developers must build a good community and manage it well. They do not have to personally manage these sites. They can relegate it to nongovernment organization like Habitat.
The successful relocation and socialized housing communities (unlike the Smokey Mountain in Tondo) must be a mixed but not homogeneous community.
Ayco said that a good mixed community being managed by Habitat in Taguig contains people coming from informal settlers, police and teachers.
“In other words, you don’t cluster E and A or B, but E and D. Then people begin to adjust,” he said.
“For example, in our Sevilla, Bohol, where I come from, our community is a mix of fishermen/farmers and the rich families live in one barangay. It is just in the big cities where there is segregation between the rich and the poor. My peer groups are children of the mayor and the fishermen. We had no distinction when we played basketball,” Ayco added.
What informal settlers need is modeling for their behavior, and support systems where they can get assistance from.
“In the Habitat project in Payatas, Quezon City, we also employ a mix community from informal settlers, teachers and others. In the three-year-old community, we found that they are living quite well,” Ayco said.