House OKs creation of housing department
The House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading the bill creating the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development to govern the country’s basic housing needs.
House Bill No. 6775 was passed on Tuesday with 193 votes in its favor. Six members of the Makabayan bloc cast votes against it.
The proposed department would take over the functions of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) and the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) and act as the primary agency responsible for the management of housing, human settlements and urban development.
HUDCC would be abolished, while HLURB would be reconstituted as the Human Settlements Adjudicatory Commission, an independent quasi-judicial body within the department that would resolve issues and disputes in the implementation of the Urban Development and Housing Act.
The National Housing Authority, the Housing Guaranty Corp., the National Housing Mortgage Finance Corp., the Home Development Mutual Fund, and the Social Housing Finance Corp. would be the department’s attached agencies.
It would also establish Socialized Housing One-Stop Processing Centers to process and issue all required housing-related permits, clearances and licenses.
The bill would mandate the implementation of a rational, well-balanced, orderly and efficient redevelopment of urban communities and the development of new settlements in rural and non-farm areas.
At the same time, the bill would mandate the State to guarantee the preservation of agricultural lands necessary for food security.
“Human settlements” was defined under the bill as the “integrative concept” composed of shelter and infrastructure, and community services such as education, health, culture, welfare, recreation, food and nutrition.
Housing and urban development committee chair Negros Occidental 3rd Dist. Rep. Alfredo Benitez said the bill was “not just about putting a roof over the head, but about building homes and building communities.”
However, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate, one of the bill’s opponents, said the bill was still designed under the current framework laid down by the 1992 Urban Development and Housing Act.
“We can, thus, expect nothing substantially new as far as improving the dire situation of the millions of our homeless people are concerned. There would still be more unutilized housing projects while many remain homeless,” Zarate said.
“The homeless and informal settlers do not need a new layer in our already cluttered bureaucracy. What they need are public and affordable mass housing programs that are available to them which have basic utilities and are near their sources of income,” he added.
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