The Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) has reported that the overall housing needs have reached 6.7 million in 2021. At the same time, the number of informal settler families (ISF) rose to 5.9 million. If the rise in ISFs is not solved adequately, our country’s housing needs will balloon to at least 10.9 million by 2028.
Last September 22, 2022, DHSUD launched PBBM’s “Pambansang Pabahay para sa Pilipino: Zero ISF 2028,” which aims to build 1 million houses per year, reaching 6 million housing units by the end of the current administration as a solution to address the housing crisis.
But housing rights advocates raise questions on the affordability of the program and whether sufficient government resources are allocated for it or not.
In the proposed 2023 budget being deliberated in Senate, the budget for the housing sector went down by 48% – from 7.67 billion in 2022 to 4.029 billion pesos for 2023. The amount is only 4% of the entire 2023 proposed budget.
During the Senate finance committee hearing last October 21, 2022, newly-appointed DHSUD Secretary Jose Acuzar explained their request for a 36-billion peso interest subsidy as a budgetary requirement to build 1 million houses per year. Yet he also mentioned that the total financial requirement for the program amounts to 1.2 trillion pesos per year and, as such, will require tapping the private sector.
Secretary Acuzar clarified last September 22 that the housing program is not free. Each housing unit costs P580,000 to P1,150,000, depending on the type and location. Under the Pambansang Pabahay para sa Pilipino program, the preferential interest rate is 1%. Thus, for a 30-year program, each beneficiary will pay P1,912 to P3,538 each month depending on their availed package.
With this significant decrease in the budget for the housing sector, what is the assurance that the Pambansang Pabahay para sa Pilipino program will be implemented successfully and that the government will meet the 6M housing unit target by 2028?
This National Shelter Month, we call for just and realistic solutions that will contribute to achieving the housing requirement until 2030. We demand the urgent passage of the following proposed measures currently filed in the 19th Congress:
- Rental Housing Subsidy Act;
- Review and amendment of the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992;
- An Act Establishing National Housing Development, Production, and Financing Program;
- An Act Providing for Solar Home Financing System for Informal Settler Families and Social Housing Beneficiaries; and
- National Comprehensive Housing Financing Act.
Once passed, these bills will help finance more housing projects that will provide affordable, green, and resilient homes for informal settler families.
Adequate shelter is a fundamental right of every Filipino. With the proposed 2023 budget expected to be approved by the Senate by the third week of November, we call for genuine prioritization of addressing the housing crisis by increasing the housing sector budget to at least 500 billion pesos per year.