Reaching Out to Informal Settler Families in Metro 3rd



on Thu, 07/20/2017

Focusing on the other “H” in his  METRO 3RD ASENSO –IHELP (infrastructure-health & housing-education & environment-livelihood-policy) PROGRAM, Congressman Alfredo Benitez  initiated an inventory of informal settler families (ISF) and a review of the various housing programs of local government units in the Third District.

Marie June Pavillar Castro, women’s rights advocate, civic leader and former Silay City councilor who was  tasked as District Coordinator for Housing Concerns DCHC), said the initial inventory recorded close to 50,000 informal settler families in Victorias, EB Magalona, Silay, Talisay and Murcia.  As she works closely with the LGUs to assist fast-tracking their housing programs and other related concerns, the listing and mapping of ISFs continue to generate an accurate data-baseline for appropriate interventions and provide relevant inputs to policy initiatives to address the housing backlog and other issues.

Cong. Benitez  worked with the National Housing Authority and Victorias Mayor Francis Frederick Palanca to  facilitate the implementation of the Permanent Housing Project in Barangay 13 for the victims of Typhoon Yolanda.  To date more than 300 units are occupied by ISFs of the total target 2,321 houses.

Victorias housing officer Primilo Solinap  recently reported that 1,300 ISFs will soon benefit from the free patent program of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Villa Miranda.

DCHC Castro have also identified ISFs who have organized themselves into homeowners associations seeking assistance and conducted consultative meetings with these groups. Among them are  the Community Association of Barangay Zone IV of Talisay,  the Community Association of Purok Kapayas, Barangay Zone IV of Murcia.

Vital links are established with government housing agencies like the National Housing Agency (NHA) , Social Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC)  and the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB).  The District Office and the DCHC continue to conduct  various fora to assist the SHFC advocacy on  promoting the Community Mortgage Program (CMP) and the Local Community Mortgage Program (LCMP).

Ongoing is the coordination with the Habitat for Humanity, a non-profit housing organization whose vision is to provide decent shelter for underprivileged informal settlers. DCHC Castro said,  Habitat  plans for a housing project  in the province, using available indigenous materials.

Congressman Benitez who is also the House chair for the Committee on Housing and Urban Development have initiated groundwork on ways and means to tackle  the  housing backlog in the country, working closely with his counterpart in the Senate, Senator Joseph Victor  Ejercito

In his District, Congressman Benitez takes the lead in transforming lives of informal settler families through access to resettlement communities and socialized housing.

DCHC Castro together with Team Albee shared experiences of long and tedious meetings with stakeholders, rigorous systems and procedures that need improvements and even changes and most of all, the need to change attitude and mind set of people that have been rooted in the old ways.

But opportunities outweigh the constraints in the work towards improving lives of people.  For Congressman Benitez, the challenge of making shelter . . . housing . . . . and finally, decent homes a reality for informal settler families  is not an impossible dream.*