HOUSING MATTERS

By: Eduardo D. Del Rosario@inquirerdotnet

Philippine Daily Inquirer / 3:15 AM January 30, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic and the numerous natural disasters in 2020 have highlighted the weaknesses in our urban design and existing systems and processes. It underscored, all the more, the need for resiliency and sustainability of our human settlements, as well as urban planning and other pro-active measures.

I am making it a personal challenge to overcome these adversities and accomplish even more this 2021. We have set the department’s priorities for 2021 to respond to the needs of the time and to proactively prepare for emerging challenges.

We are now finalizing a comprehensive development plan for the housing and urban development sector that will serve as our roadmap in the next 20 years. In close collaboration with all stakeholders, it will contain out-of-the-box solutions and innovative programs and strategies in view of the expanded mandate of the department and the inevitable changing needs of the time.

The National Housing and Urban Development Sector Plan, which will be ready by April this year, is designed to consolidate the short, medium and long term strategies, plans and programs of the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD), key shelter agencies and other stakeholders. We will have it mainstreamed in our national and local plans to ensure synchronized implementation of all efforts to address our country’s housing needs.

Streamlined processes

Despite being the youngest department, we intend to champion the Ease of Doing Business by streamlining our existing processes to promote efficiency and prompt service delivery, whether on housing production or issuance of permits, licenses and accreditation.

The operationalization of the Housing One-stop Processing Centers (HOPCs) remains a priority to hasten the processing of permits and licenses at the regional level. Coordination with concerned agencies like the Department of Agriculture, Department of Agrarian Reform, Department of Environment and Natural Resources and Land Registration Authority to facilitate the resolution of issues related to land conversion and reclassification will be continuously pursued.

Information is key

In recognition of the importance and the necessity for digitization, we will expedite the development and implementation of our Information Systems Strategic Plan (ISSP) to guide our use of information and communication technology in data and records management, data processing and decision-making. Information is key towards data-driven policies, programs and processes in this technology-driven era.

We will optimize the use of ICT to develop a system capable of storing vital and updated data of all housing projects nationwide, inventory of the housing needs of LGUs, updated data on available lots for housing and land zoning classification down to the local level, and listing of existing beneficiaries of the government’s housing programs. For this purpose, we will integrate the information systems of the key shelter agencies, and to the extent possible, of the LGUs, or at least have access to their database.

Beefing up the workforce

As we work on the department’s strategic plans, we will also capacitate our human resources by fast-tracking the recruitment process to fill up vacant plantilla positions while supporting the growth of our workforce with competency-based human resource management system.

Our clients and stakeholders are of primary concern. Our vision depends on meaningful engagement and partnership with local government units, homeowner associations, partner-developers and civil society organizations. Thus, we will further nourish our ties to build sustainable and resilient communities for all Filipinos.

In line with our flagship BALAI or Building Adequate, Livable, Affordable and Inclusive Filipino communities’ thrust to promote synergy among key shelter agencies, we are creating the National Human Settlements and Urban Development Coordinating Committee (NHSUDCC) and the Regional HSUDCC. The HSUDCC will facilitate close coordination between the department and the key shelter agencies, ensure harmonization of housing and urban development policies, and complementation of programs, projects and activities.

We still have much work to do and more hurdles to overcome. But we will sustain our momentum at the DHSUD and intensify efforts to turn our vision of establishing decent housing in well-planned communities for all Filipino families a reality that will be a source of national pride.

Lastly, with the recent appointments of key officials in the department by President Duterte, I am very optimistic that we are more than ready to face the challenges of 2021 head on and with renewed energy and passion for serving our nation and the Filipino people.