THE chairman of the House committee on housing and urban development has underscored the need to tackle the housing crisis in the country, especially amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Negros Occidental 3rd District Rep. Francisco Benitez said it’s time the public and private sectors worked together to address the country’s housing backlog, which is estimated to reach up to 6.8 million housing units next year.

“We really need to fully face this housing crisis and address the backlog as we try to rebuild the pandemic-battered economy,” Benitez said at the weekly “Ugnayan sa Batasan” media forum.

Benitez’s committee had earlier adopted a resolution seeking to declare a housing crisis in the country while urging the government to mobilize resources to accelerate housing production and provide adequate housing to underserved families.

During the forum, Benitez said all players and stakeholders—including national and local governments and the private sector—must be involved in developing viable solutions to the housing backlog.

According to Benitez, around 800,000 housing units must be built every year in order to cope with the country’s rising population.

Meanwhile, Benitez revealed that the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development and the National Housing Authority were asking for a budget of at least P100 billion to address the housing backlog for the next 15 to 20 years.

“They are trying to find more financing schemes to allow them to build the units and provide further incentives so that private developers or the private sector can also help address the backlog,” he said.

Benitez said the Congress is also doing its part in providing solutions to the housing backlog problem.

The House recently approved on final reading House Bill 8248, which aims to establish an on-site, in-city, near city local government resettlement program to ensure the sustainability and viability of resettlement projects for informal settler families. Also being taken up in plenary is the proposed Rental Housing Subsidy Act.

Both bills are among the priority measures of the legislative chamber and principally authored by Speaker Lord Allan Velasco. (PR)