LGUs urged to involve private sector in solving housing problem

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Sunday, May 18, 2014


A CONSULTANT of the World Bank (WB) urged cities to involve the private sector in solving housing problems affecting the urban poor.

Soomsook Boonyabancha, also the general secretary of the Asian Coalition for Housing Rights, said cities should also address the problem on a citywide-scale, instead of focusing on a single or few communities.

“You cannot solve the problem project by project,” she said in an interview last Friday. “It should be citywide. Bring together the private sector, nongovernment organizations (NGOs) and the people from the communities.”

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Boonyabancha and officials of the Social Housing Finance Corp. (SHFC) paid a two-day visit to Mandaue City as part of their campaign to promote the “citywide development approach” to upgrading informal settlements.

Model cities

The WB and the SHFC identified the cities of Mandaue and Iloilo as models for other cities that want to address their own housing problems.

Among the practices of the two cities lauded by the agencies are their efforts to tag all informal settlers that need relocation and to partner with NGOs and the private sector to provide safer shelters for them.

Boonyabancha commended the Mandaue City Government for tapping NGOs and private firms in its efforts to relocate informal settlers to safer areas.

The City partnered with the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation and the Cebu Contractors’ Association in developing relocation sites in Barangays Tipolo, Canduman and Paknaan.

A partnership agreement between the City and the Habitat for Humanity is also in the works.

Change in outlook

Boonyabancha said informal settlers or people living in slums are clamoring to be given an opportunity to transfer to places where they can build decent homes.

“People who live in slums have changed,” she said, adding informal settlers now make an effort to improve their living conditions.

Last Friday, the SHFC and the Mandaue City Government established a partnership agreement to work together for more housing projects and to promote the citywide development approach in upgrading informal settlements to other local government units.

Some 1,200 families living along the Mahiga Creek and the Butuanon River in Mandaue City are beneficiaries of the SHFC’s Community Mortgage Program.

The SHFC paid for the acquisition of the 6.5-hectare lot in Paknaan to be used as a relocation site for the families, who will be affected by the City’s demolition of structures lying within three meters from waterways.

The City has identified about 4,000 households to be affected by the demolitions.

Last Friday, Vice President Jejomar Binay, chair of the SHFC and the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, handed a check worth P44 million to a representative of the Lua family, owner of the lot in Paknaan.

The amount was half of the payment for the lot, which is undergoing site development.

Lawyer Marie Rosalie Taguian, SHFC vice president for the Visayas and Mindanao, said the rest of the payment will be turned over once beneficiaries receive their land titles and the site development is completed.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 18, 2014.

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