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Housing agencies seeking up to P130 billion to address backlog in accommodations

THE HOUSING backlog is expected to require up to P130 billion to close the deficit of about six million units, a legislator said at a virtual briefing Wednesday.

Representative Jose Francisco B. Benitez of Negros Occidental’s third district said the housing agencies are estimating a requirement of between P100 billion and P130 billion to address the backlog.

Mr. Benitez said it may take “15 to 20 years” to meet the demand for housing.

Mr. Benitez heads the House Committee on Housing and Urban Development which adopted House Substitute Resolution No. 1458 declaring a housing crisis.

The demand between 2016 and 2020 was 6.7 million units, of which only 770,000 were constructed.

House legislators said the government has assigned housing a low priority, with the sector getting on average 0.74% of the budget between 2010 and 2021. The resolution calls on the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) to expedite construction of housing for indigent families.

Mr. Benitez said other than limited funding, red tape has also been a factor.

He added: “Part of the recommendation of the committee is that the DHSUD coordinate with the Anti-Red Tape Authority so they can create a one-stop processing center for housing projects,” he said.

At the plenary session of the House Wednesday, legislators approved House Bill 8736 or the proposed Rental Housing Subsidy Program Act on second reading. The bill is among the 18 proposed measures that are intended to mitigate the housing crisis.

Mr. Benitez, in his sponsorship speech in the plenary Wednesday, said the bill may only be a “stopgap measure” but will assist families in the informal sector.

If passed, the law will provide a rent subsidy to indigent families in temporary housing until the family is able to afford to transfer to permanent accommodations, or if the housing settlement site they are assigned to is ready for occupancy. — Gillian M. Cortez

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