No more ‘faulty’ housing policies by Christmas

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Vice President Ma. Leonor Robredo has vowed to end all faulty housing policies by December.

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In a chance interview in Naga City (Camarines Sur) where she visited the grave of her late husband and Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo on Tuesday, the Vice President identified five problematic housing policies: Housing backlog is addressed by building houses even if relocation sites do not have access to water, electricity, livelihood, mass transportation, among other basic needs; developers have difficulty in securing permits to build housing projects; titling of land is needed before the government is allowed to build a housing project; processing of conversion of agricultural land to residential land is very slow; and housing projects are inaccessible to the poor.

“We are trying to change a lot of things. We are evaluating on whether a certain policy is insufficient or just downright wrong, and the first thing that we saw is the defective metrics in measuring the accomplishment [of addressing housing backlog]. We have been doing inspection, and at least 80 percent of what I saw do not have access to basic needs,” Robredo, chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, said.

The Vice President cited that local government units are not consulted over their possible hosting of relocation sites, virtually forcing them to accept the relocates even if the LGUs do not have the capacity to provide water supply and other basic needs of the relocation sites.

“As a result, the relocation ends up a failure because people will only reside there for a while, then they will sell
it. They will return to Manila to become informal settlers again. So as far as we are concerned, we are reviewing the defective policies and I have a self-imposed deadline to iron these all out by December,” Robredo said.

The country’s housing backlog for the next six years is at 5.6 million.

“It takes developer a long time to secure a permit to build a housing project, thus the 5.6 million backlog and the average of a measly 200,000 houses built in a year. Since it takes a lot of time to secure a permit, developers are avoiding socialized [low-cost] housing. We really want this addressed by streamlining the process,” Robredo said.

“We want to cut the processing time and ease the number of documents needed, considering that a land has to be titled before the government is allowed to build a housing project and the slow processing of conversion of agricultural land to residential land. Lastly, we want to make these housing projects available to the poor,” she added.

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