There is a need to fill gaps in the government’s housing program for soldiers and police, according to Vice President Maria Leonor Robredo.
Officials of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), National Housing Authority (NHA), and Armed Forces of the Philippines-Philippine National Police (AFP-PNP) Housing Board have met to identify and resolve the gaps in the program on Tuesday.
“While a few housing projects have been successful, the conditions of most of the houses in the sites I visited simply weren’t acceptable for the families of our soldiers and police,” Robredo said in a statement issued by the HUDCC on Wednesday.
The Vice President convened an inter-agency technical working group (TWG) composed of the HUDCC, NHA, AFP-PNP Housing Board, Department of Budget and Management and Department of the Interior and Local Government to further review proposals in order to make unoccupied units livable homes as originally intended.
“We need to fill the gaps and fulfill the original objective of providing our soldiers and police with decent and affordable homes for their families,” Robredo, who heads the HUDCC, said.
The program, which began in 2011 with a budget of P20.78 billion, aimed to provide homes across the country for soldiers and police who receive relatively low salaries as well as for their families.
While over 60,738 houses have been built, only 8,397 were occupied as of September 30, 2016, according to the HUDCC’s statement, which cited a report of NHA architect Susan Nonato.
Commander Elpidio Trinidad Jr., who leads the AFP Housing Board, “said many soldiers were not satisfied with the design of the houses consisting of 22 square meter row houses on 40 sq m lots,” the statement said.
The location of the houses also failed to match the needs of the police, according to Police Senior Supt. Wilfredo Cayat.
There were sites that lack applicants and there were sites where applicants outnumber the houses, according to the statement.
It said there had been concerns on the acceptability of the units’ size but the Aquino administration pushed through with the design because soldiers and police still expressed interest, considering the units’ affordability.
“Many of the unoccupied units have become dilapidated over time due to non-use as many soldiers and police were not amenable with the design but acquired the units as an investment or for retirement purposes,” the statement said.