Bill creating human settlements department filed
A bill creating a human settlements department that will integrate the functions of two housing agencies and address housing backlogs expected to swell to 6 million in the next five years has reached the Senate plenary.
Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito, chair of the Senate committee on urban planning, housing and resettlement, on Wednesday sponsored the measure establishing the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development, consolidating six similar bills that sought to address the nation’s housing needs in a rational way.
Ejercito stressed the need for a full-fledged department that would deal with the problems of overcrowding, restrictions in unlocking land for human settlements, lack of an efficient transport system and the rising number of squatter communities.
“What we need is one housing department with one board… creating the roadmap for housing and urban development, leading its implementation, setting the general direction for everyone, and able to follow through each and every project with clear functions, policies, budget and financing,” Ejercito said in his speech.
He said the country’s housing backlog of 2 million could surge to 6.57 million by the end of 2022 as natural disasters continued to ravage the countryside and flood cities, leaving hundreds of families homeless each year.
“Recently, the Marawi City siege… has already caused an estimated 351,168 internally displaced persons. With their houses bombed, one can only imagine the magnitude of houses we must build again while still in the midst of rebuilding for the victims of Supertyphoon “Yolanda,” the recent earthquakes and the almost forgotten Zamboanga siege,” he added.
Senate Bill No. 1578 consolidates the administrative functions of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council and the planning and regulatory functions of the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB).
In effect, the department will act as the sole and main planning and policymaking, regulatory, program coordination and performance monitoring entity for all housing and urban development concerns.
It will be composed of the Office of the Secretary, the Bureaus of Policy Development, Coordination, Monitoring and Evaluation, Environmental, Land Use and Urban Planning and Development, Housing and Real Estate Development Regulation, and the Homeowners Association and Community Development.
Meanwhile, the adjudicatory functions of the HLURB will be exercised by the new Human Settlements Adjudication Commission. A National Shelter Board will address the disintegration of housing policies and plans and cut the level of bureaucracy.
Ejercito said the proposed legislation would streamline the bureaucracy.
“It is not an added layer for private developers to go through for licensing and permits. This will instead create better systems where there will be less bureaucracy to deal with and where a ‘one-stop-shop processing center’ will remain a priority,” he said.
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