IT WILL be a great summer for more than 1,000 families in Cebu after the National Housing Authority in Central Visayas (NHA 7) turned over the keys to their new homes last month.

More than eight years after super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) destroyed their dwellings in November 2013, the victims are finally getting new homes under the NHA’s Yolanda Permanent Housing Project.

The NHA 7 and the local government unit (LGU) led by Mayor Arthur Despi held a raffle and turnover of 500 housing units of the Kabyayan ni Datu Leon in Barangay Sillon, Bantayan, Cebu last March 16.

The fully developed house and lot units are free. In exchange, house owners must use the units as residences and not purely for business like for an eatery or store.

During the ceremony, a signing of the Memorandum of Agreement as well as of the Deed of Donation and Acceptance was also held for the houses.

In a video message, new Cabinet Secretary Melvin Matibag, chairman of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF)-Yolanda, thanked the NHA 7, the Bantayan government led by Despi and Vice Mayor Antonio Montemar, as well as housing developer BSP & Company Inc. for bringing the project to fruition.

Matibag said water and electricity were already available for the homes in the housing project.

A week later, on March 24, the NHA 7 also held a raffle and awarding ceremony for 615 house and lot units of Esperanza People’s Village, also a Yolanda Permanent Housing Project (YPHP), in San Francisco town in the Camotes Islands with San Francisco Mayor Alfredo Arquillano Jr. in attendance.

Earlier in the month, during the turnover of 1,000 housing units at the Lanao Unity Park Homes in Barangay Lanao, Daanbantayan, Cebu, then YPHP IATF-Yolanda Chairman and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said more than 7,000 housing units had been distributed to Cebuanos since 2019, showing the Duterte administration’s efforts to move the project along despite the Covid-19 pandemic.

Beneficiaries could be assured that the free houses were nice, orderly and durable, Nograles said at the March 8 event.

Yolanda struck Cebu on Nov. 8, 2013, displacing thousands of residents and requiring the relocation of those living in no-build zones or areas within 40 meters from the shoreline.

The NHA Cebu District Office was allocated P6.5 billion for the building of 22,423 housing units for the Yolanda victims in the most severely hit 15 towns and one city in northern Cebu.

In 2019, however, the total housing unit allocation in Cebu was reduced to 20,877 houses on the request of some LGUs, mostly island towns, to raise the budget allocated for each housing unit due to cost adjustment and variation orders.

Among the LGUs that reduced their number of house allocations were the towns of Bantayan, San Francisco, Poro, Tudela and Pilar.