August 22, 2017

Rep. Alfredo “Albee” Benitez, chair of the Committee on Housing and Urban Development in the House of Representatives, urged the government on Tuesday to invest more in housing to fully address the long-standing problem of homelessness in the country.

The proposed 4.795-billion budget for the housing sector in 2018 is 68.87% lower than last year. The figure represents a measly 0.13% of the 2018 national budget.

The bulk of the housing budget goes to the National Housing Authority (NHA) and the Social Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC), with 2.235 billion and 773.63 million, respectively.

“We have long been grappling with homelessness and each year the country’s housing needs, especially in urban areas, keep on swelling along with population growth and rapid urbanization,” Rep. Benitez lamented.

According to the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), the country’s total housing needs will balloon to 6.8 million by 2022, including the 2 million housing backlog from previous years.

“To address this, the Government should allocate more funding for housing programs for poor and low-income families, particularly those living in informal settlements and danger areas,” Rep. Benitez said.

NHA’s 2018 budget is 82.38% lower than last year and will be devoted to resettlement for informal settler families and housing for military and police personnel. There is no budget for permanent housing for disaster victims – the subject of Benitez’s committee’s inquiry in Tacloban City on September 1.

“It is deeply disconcerting that housing is left neglected by the government when shelter is the one of the most basic human needs and the most visible manifestation of human dignity,” Rep. Benitez said.

“The government’s ‘Build, Build, Build’ (BBB) program should not just concentrate on transportation infrastructure. Building affordable and adequate homes for poor Filipino families should be part and parcel of our efforts to ensure inclusive and sustainable development,” Rep. Benitez added.

The budget for housing sector is dwarfed by the 1.097-trillion BBB budget by more than 200 times. #