• House panel OKs socialized housing measure

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    THE House of Representatives’ Land Use panel has approved a bill mandating every municipality and city to provide socialized housing sites for the underprivileged and homeless with the corresponding long-term financing, direct subsidy programs and liberalized terms on interest payments.

    The still unnumbered National Land Use Bill authored by Reps. Arlene Bag-ao of Dinagat Islands, Teddy Baguilat of Ifugao and Bolet Banal of Quezon City, among others, is one of the priority measures of the Aquino administration for the 16th Congress.

    The bill states that each city or municipality in urban, “urbanizable” and rural areas should designate adequate lands for housing or residential purposes, including socialized housing and resettlement areas for the immediate and future needs of the local population as well as underprivileged and homeless in their territory, to ensure adequate availability of land for the housing needs of the local population.

    The socialized housing site or settlement areas should be: within alienable and disposable lands but not in environmentally-critical, geo-hazard or other protection areas; along established urban growth directions; with provisions for or can be provided with basic services and utilities; within the zero-percent to 8-percent slope range; and accessible from existing built-up areas and other employment centers through existing or proposed roads and other transportation facilities.

    The location of resettlement areas may either be on-site or off-site and may be within the city or municipality, provided that designated settlement and socialized housing areas will consider the proximity and accessibility of the affected community to employment, economic activities and social services.

    Designated sites for socialized housing should be in residential zones or assigned as socialized housing zones and integrated in the zoning ordinances of the city or municipality.

    An equitable valuation of lands for socialized housing will be set by the Department of Finance on the basis of the market value reflected in the zonal valuation, or in its absence, on the latest real property tax declaration.

    For sites already occupied by qualified beneficiaries under the Urban Development and Housing Act and sites identified as Socialized Housing Zones as defined in this Act, the Finance department will factor the blighted status of the land as certified by the local government unit or the National Housing Authority into the valuation.

    Aside from socialized housing site, the measure also tasks each city or highly-urbanizing municipality to identify, designate, and allocate lands owned by the city or municipality as urban forest or green space, based on the guidelines and standards to be issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

    The National Land Use bill has been passed on third reading in the House of Representatives during the 15th Congress. The Senate version of the measure, however, was stuck in plenary debates.

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