HAVING just recently signed a memorandum of agreement with the National Housing Authority (NHA) for the establishment of the first permanent relocation site for Yolanda victims in Barangay Cauayan, Tacloban City, Habitat for Humanity Philippines Foundation Inc. is tasked to build row houses for the survivors in such a way that the site will be a new township or suburb within the city.
This was disclosed to The Manila Times by Habitat’s managing director Charlito Ayco who said the relocation site was safe from any future surges being located on a very elevated ground with a slightly rolling terrain and its main gate is 20 meters from the highway and the junction leading to the San Juanico bridge.
Originally, Ayco said, it was a relocation site planned by the NHA and the local government. “But with Yolanda, the development of the area was accelerated,” he said.
“It is actually one kilometer from the Tacloban inland and the site is owned by the city government. By private vehicle, it takes only 15 minutes from the site to reach the city’s center,” he explained.
Besides being on a high ground, the site is by the highway. The reason some relocation sites fail to hold the people is because of their inaccessibility to the livelihood and the mainstream of the community. But this relocation site has every advantage to make it sustainable for people and livelihood, Ayco said.
What is being developed initially is 10 hectares but the area for expansion stretches to 50 hectares. “What the local government is now thinking is to develop it into a new township or a suburb of the whole town. They are talking of a total of 100 hectares. The government owns the land,” Ayco said.
There are two designs for one-story row houses: the one done by the NHA measuring 22 square meters (sqm) with a 10sqm. loft and the one done by the partner of Habitat, which is now being finalized with the NHA and the local government. “As much as possible, the design of the interiors of the homes to be built by Habitat would include a feature that would give the storm survivors a sense of dignity, pride and self-esteem,” Ayco stressed.
He said the design for Habitat’s row houses are nearing completion and will soon be submitted for approval of its board and by NHA and the city government. Both NHA and Habitat row houses cost P200,000 to be given as grants to the identified typhoon victims. An initial 850 row houses will be built.
The LIAC is supposed to insulate the project from politics. A local inter agency committee (LIAC) composed of both national and local government agencies, Habitat, local non-government organizations and the Church would list down all the victims of Typhoon Yolanda using criteria like a) if they live in a danger zone (a priority for the row house); b) single head of family or with children and if marginalized or not.
Besides Habitat, the GMA Kapuso Foundation is also building permanent housing for the Yolanda victims in the same area. The completion of the relocation site and the actual transfer of recipients there are expected to take place within a year from the day the construction begins.
Ayco said what is keeping them from building the houses is that NHA has yet to develop the site and put in place access roads, drainage and street lights. He said it would be patterned more or less like their development in Cagayan de Oro for the Typhoon Sendong victims.
The site development will be shouldered by NHA, the local government’s equity is the lot and NHA and Habitat equally share the cost of building the row houses. Habitat will source the funding from private donations. Construction of the row houses is expected to start within the month, upon signing the MOA.
Ayco stressed that Habitat is not just building the houses but will stay in the site to teach people how to sustain their livelihood and take care of the community. This it would do through its partner foundations.
Habitat’s recent milestone is building 8,083 houses for the Bohol quake victims and it has also been designated the technical arm of government in the distribution of shelter repair kits to a target of 41,000 families whose homes were partially destroyed by the tremor.