THE Senate Committee on Urban Planning, Housing and Resettlement will begin its investigation on Tuesday of allegedly unoccupied socialized housing units built by the National Housing Authority (NHA) in order to formulate rules and regulations for effective and efficient socialized housing programs for the marginalized sector.
Committee chairman Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito has raised the need to make an inventory of available, unoccupied and idle housing units for immediate awarding to qualified homeless beneficiaries in order to prevent wastage of public funds and property and reduce the housing backlog in the country.
Ejercito filed Senate resolutions 272 and 285 calling for a congressional inquiry into the unoccupied housing units in light of the urban poor group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap occupying vacant housing units in NHA’s housing projects in San Jose del Monte City and Pandi town, both in Bulacan, last March 8.
According to the group, their action was meant to call government’s attention to come up with a long-term solution to housing and poverty and push for national industrialization and genuine land reform to finally resolve poverty.
The housing projects, part of a housing program for military and police personnel under Administrative Order 9 signed by then-President Benigno Aquino 3rd.
The NHA built a total of 2,300 units in Bulacan but only 300 have been occupied.
Ejercito said there are more than 60,000 units from other housing and resettlement projects of the NHA all over the country that remain idle and already damaged and deteriorating.
The housing units were not occupied by recipients over allegations that the houses built are not liveable.
Some recipients complained that living in the housing units has been a nightmare for them and for their families, citing the small units, poor construction materials used, lack of access to public transportation and inadequate community facilities.
The congressional inquiry, Ejercito said, is aimed at finding out the real reasons why the housing projects funded by the government remained unoccupied and find ways of expediting awarding of the units.
He called on his colleagues for immediate passage of Senate Bill 1393 that seeks to establish on-site, in-city or near-city strategy for informal settler families.
According to Ejercito, off-site resettlement produced more problems for resettlers as housing areas lack basic utilities and social services such as water, electricity and schools; lack livelihood opportunities; and cause job loss.
“Resettlers claim that after 10 to 20 years of living in off-site resettlement, poverty continues and their situation even grew worse,” the senator noted.
He said an on-site, in-city or near-city resettlement program promotes the right of the people to access housing within the city as a preferred option and institutionalizes the peoples’ planning process as a critical element in the implementation of housing projects.