Solving the housing mess-A A +A
Real Estate Updates
Sunday, July 15, 2012
DESPITE reports of better government performance on housing in recent years, the housing problem in the country still remains critical.
Increasing population, lower incomes and unemployment, rural poverty, continued migration to and squatting in urban areas and urban poverty as some of the factors making housing such a gargantuan problem.
Other contributing factors in the ballooning housing malaise include the high cost of rent, construction and the inadequate provisions of both government and private program on consolidated and systematize housing initiatives. This is where the need to scrutinize the present government housing set-up where the task is assigned to a mere Coordinating Agency - the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), an adjunct agency under the Office of the President.
After the end of the Martial Law regime and the advent of a new order under the Cory Aquino ascendancy, the housing effort, sad to say, had suffered a big blow in terms of prioritization at the highest levels of Government. Since shelter is one of the three most basic needs of man, provision of the same should have enjoyed priority in equal terms to tourism and other government services.
To address the issue therefore, the compelling measure to undertake is the creation of a powerful cabinet level portfolio of a Department of Housing and Urban Development (DHUD), done through legislation. We feel that the creation of a Housing Department is not only imperative, but timely and long overdue.
To allay the fears that the creation of the Housing Department would bloat the current government bureaucracy and added cost and budget outlay, the scheme is simply to elevate the status of the present HUDCC into a department, maintain its present complement of offices and personnel, attach thereto the existing housing agencies and GOCCS, and confer upon this Department adequate administrative and supervisory powers over the Key Shelter Agencies and their respective governing boards.
One thing going for the creation of the Department of Housing and Urban Development is that it will establish a permanent seed fund for housing, ensure balance land use, enhance securitization measures especially its funding mechanisms, expand the powers of the present HLURB (Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board) to cover summary ejectment functions and thus, protect the property rights of legitimate landowners, among the many other urgently needed reforms in the housing sector.
Perhaps the most important reason for its creation is to cloth the policy-making and overseeing body with powers sufficient to ensure that: (1) the existing housing agencies, local governments and the private sector operate in a concerted and holistic fashion to push the housing programs to a higher level; (2) that the housing and urban development effort is accorded the priority it deserves at the highest rungs of government and ensure continued growth and development of various housing initiatives and projects and (3) fully coordinate housing and urban development policies and directions from the national to the local levels.
As an added feature in the introduction of the Housing Department is the granting of veto powers to the Housing Secretary over all actions taken by the governing boards of the KSA’s with respect to investments, allocation and disposition of funds, issuance of credit instruments, and such other matters as may bear directly or indirectly on policies, programs, rules and regulations adopted by the department.
The crafted DHUD Bill is expected to grant the Housing Secretary full authority and direct control over the KSA’s and GOCCS allied with the function, and in so doing provide the mechanism for full responsibility and concomitant accountability for all his actions. This way there is no more “passing of the buck” when housing and urban development programs are concerned.
Along with the creation of the DHUD, we urge government planners to consider the following policy measures: (1) review the housing programs for community financing to facilitate the processing and easy funds release; (2) tap NGOs, POs, housing cooperatives, savings and loan associations and rural and urban banks for housing financing schemes and money-saving lending systems for housing; (3) expand and strengthen LGU’s role under devolution for housing functions; (4) set up support mechanisms in low-cost and socialized housing designs, models and building construction materials; and (5) strengthen the government housing program through training of leaders in the housing associations on the concepts of empowerment, cooperativism and accountability to the members of the association, in funds management and setting up of credit unions within the association exclusively for housing purposes.
Let these proposals find realization immediately in our country, we may be solving the housing mess sooner than we think.
(The writer is a Certified Public Accountant and president of the Baguio Realtors Board, Inc. Apart from being a recognized Real Estate Practitioner as a Real Estate Broker and Educator, Lecturer and Resource Person, he is likewise a Business Management/ NGO/Cooperative Consultant, Project Development Consultant, Financial Advisor/Loan Broker and Columnist. For comments and more information of Real Estate Updates and Studies, you may get in touch with him at No. 04 Old Forestry Compound, Baguio City 2600, Tel. No (074) 427-1971/ Cell Nos. 09109302753/09163188274 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org/ email@example.com).
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on July 16, 2012.