Contributing to the problem than the solution

BLOGISTA

By Cha Monforte

I have interviewed Councilor Nicandro “Nickel” Suaybaguio to get his side on his proposed measure of giving a temporary closed-door policy for the urban poor. For being a scion of a landed family in the city, I couldn’t fault him for using the landowner’s vantage point of seeing things in urban poor housing.

But even that stupid Lina Law, in the words of a national columnist, in describing the Urban Development Housing Act (UDHA) of 1992 (RA 7279) has recognized the acute problem of housing the people. The law spells out various shelter modes and schemes and calls for the combination of these to resolve the country’s high housing backlog.

There has been this backlog highlighted since the 90s when UDHA was enacted and it is continuing now even with combination of housing strategies and the creation of the Social Housing Finance Corporation in 2004 from the National Home Mortgage Finance Corp (NHMFC) so that the social housing for the informal and low-income sector will be given a particular focus.

So with Tagum City. It is too suffering from acute housing backlog. In the city’s comprehensive development and land use plan, the projected housing demand for 2010 is 47,383 dwelling units. These are the households who are currently having no lots to call their own, renting, or sharing spaces with their families across all classes and income markets.

Taking this alarming statistics, and multiplying it by the minimum 100 square meter for a lot of each household, Tagum City two years from now would be needing at least 473 hectares of land to house its landless people.

However, for since the low-income class comprised the bulk of the populace (we peg at a mere minimum of 60 percent), the resulting statistics of 28,000 households in need of social housing paints a grave housing problem that needs about, at least 280 hectares of land.

The city’s sub-regional service center function since time immemorial has just attracted a lot of people to live in its territory and has spawned higher in-migration rate and faster urbanization tempo. The sprouting of informal housing settlements along with the squatting of public places such as the danger zones, road right of ways and accretion areas along the city’s creeks and rivers caused by a burgeoned population is just therefore a manifestation, an effect of the strong economic force of the city.

Thanks, the city’s acute housing backlog and urban light and squatting have been addressed since the recent decade and years by various shelter modes such as CMP, cooperative housing, congressional housing of Rep. Arrel Olano and even direct purchase at the own initiative of the landless themselves out from sheer want and necessity.

The 31 urban poor housing projects occupying at least a mere 64 hectares in the city could only house a total of 3,301 households and have effectively secured the tenure of 2,662 households, which is about a high 81-percent occupancy and not the low 60-percent occupancy highlighted by Suaybaguio.

So this is it. In the face of the acute housing backlog of Tagum City (read 280 hectares against the 64 hectares made of informal housing settlements) why knock on the problem of site development and the non-issue of alleged low occupancy, when much has still to be done with the organized initiatives and community-based land acquisition for housing projects being participated by the landless urban poor themselves.

The city government has limited resources to resolve this acute housing problem. So with the debt-ridden national government that from a formerly doleout housing solution exemplified by the wasteful BLISS projects before, it has shifted the paradigm of housing the people through encouragement of community-based housing projects involving the landless urban poor themselves like the CMP.

If the young Suaybaguio could have his way, that is, stopping for five years any new urban poor housing, he is actually contributing to the problem of landlessness than to the solution of it. We have more lands to take as a problem than the roads of the existing ones, while people continue to flock in to the city to live and prices of lands continue to rise. For now, more landbanking is what we need than site development. (For online edition, visit my blog at: https://cha4t.wordpress.com)

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