Robredo: Housing sector in shambles
Vice President Leni Robredo argued Wednesday for the creation of a separate housing department to unify functions currently divided among six agencies, saying overlapping roles has led to an inefficient setup and a housing backlog of 5.6 million.
Speaking at a budget hearing in the Senate, the concurrent Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) chair described the housing sector as “in shambles.” She also bared difficulties in implementing projects due to redundancies in the setup.
“We realize that the status quo is not working. We have to look at all possibilities [to solve the housing problem]. I’m confident that the President will be very supportive of plans to revolutionize the housing sector,” Ms. Robredo told the Senate finance committee.
Speaking to reporters later, she said the housing problem was “seemingly insurmountable,” and that she counted on the support of President Duterte, who had picked her for the post.
Robredo, who presented the proposed 2017 budget of housing agencies before the chamber, said the housing backlog might linger “if the status quo continues.”
She noted that even data on the country’s housing status needed updating: the last available figures on informal settlers dates back to 2011 at 1.4 million families. Of this number, 52 percent are known to be living in danger areas.
She said she was optimistic of proposals to create a separate Department of Housing, among them a bill filed by Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito. Robredo, however, said she hoped the President would “issue an executive order just to give us (HUDCC) some mandate.”
“The current status quo is not working because, first of all, we have a 5.6-million housing backlog. This means that our housing direction is not working… and one of the reasons really is institutional,” Robredo said.
“HUDCC has not been able to function really well because it doesn’t have enough mandate to streamline all the agencies under it… Supposedly, six key shelter agencies are under HUDCC, but if you look at the mandate, it really doesn’t have the function of reorganizing and streamlining the agencies,” she said.
Currently, government’s housing functions are divided among six shelter agencies: HUDCC, the National Home Mortgage Finance Corp., Home Guaranty Corp., the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board, the National Housing Authority, and the Social Housing Finance Corp.
In her presentation, Robredo said the sector requested a P32.195-billion budget for 2017, already lower than the current P34.47-billion budget. The Department of Budget and Management, however, slashed the amount to P15.265-billion, as it noted that the NHA had failed to utilize its a P12.2-billion fund for housing projects.
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