QUEZON CITY – In spite of some “birth pains” and challenges brought about by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) recorded a banner 2020 – its first year of full operation as a department.
Secretary Eduardo D. Del Rosario, the first DHSUD head, expressed satisfaction over the performance of the department during its first year of full operation after its birth on Feb. 14, 2019 when President Rodrigo Roa Duterte signed republic Act 11201 that created DHSUD.
“Despite some birth pains and COVID-19, the department managed to pursue its mandate of providing decent and affordable housing for the underprivileged, especially the informal settler families,” Secretary Del Rosario said.
“At DHSUD, we don’t just build houses, we developed resilient and sustainable communities guided by our principle that shelter is a right, home ownership is an option and it is our responsibility in the Housing sector to capacitate and provide opportunities to all Filipinos realize their dream of owning a house of their own,” he added.
The DHSUD has already started laying the foundations for the future of the housing sector with the review and amendments of existing housing policies, guidelines and procedures. Likewise, new policies and regulations governing the real estate industry and homeowners’ associations – in close coordination with partner-developers were also crafted and issued.
Also, the department is currently finalizing the National Housing and Urban Development Sector Plan which is a 20-year roadmap aimed at synchronizing and focusing all efforts to sustain vibrancy in the housing industry.
Headed by Secretary Del Rosario, the National Human Settlements Board (NHSB) dubbed as “housing super body”, was also activated last October, with the Departments of Finance, Interior and Local Government, Budget and Management and the National Economic Development Authority onboard.
From January to December 19, 2020, DHSUD, through its four key shelter agencies (KSAs), produced and financed a total of 113,412 housing units throughout the country.
The National Housing Authority accounted for 24,139 units, the Home Development Mutual Fund or Pag-IBIG Fund financed 75,582 units, the Social Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC) accounted for 13,256 units while the National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation (NHMFC) took out 435 units of housing loan receivables from its partner-developers.
More than just producing and financing housing units, DHSUD took pro-active measures to assist the general public, particularly the underprivileged to cope-up with the adverse effects of the extended community quarantines sparked by COVID-19 pandemic.
Following the imposition of nationwide enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), Secretary Del Rosario ordered a three-month moratorium on monthly amortizations on housing and other loan payments from its KSAs in compliance with the Bayanihan 1 Act.
Apart from this, the housing department imposed another 60-day moratorium under the Bayanihan 2. Both measures benefitted some 5.5 million people, most of whom are Pag-IBIG Fund members.
During the ECQ, DHSUD also asked private developers to provide a grace period for home-buyers under their in-house financing program.
The department likewise issued guidelines on the movement of deadlines and interruptions of periods for compliance with requirements. An advisory on the Implementing Rules and Regulations meant to ensure the provision of uniform procedure for the grant of additional time of completion for projects whose development have been delayed or affected by the pandemic was also issued.
Secretary Del Rosario also found ways to assist private developers cope-up with the pandemic with the expansion of Pag-IBIG Fund’s Housing Construction Finance Loan facility from P2 to P10 billion. The move was meant to sustain the construction works of small companies that had been affected by the pandemic.
Pag-IBIG Fund likewise carried out short-term loans (STL) for its members to help ease their financial constraints amid the health crisis. From the start of the ECQ until December 18, 2020, the Fund was able to release a total of P37.71-billion worth of STL to assist more than 1.68 million members.
Recognizing the pump-priming potentials of the housing industry, Secretary Del Rosario led the clamor for the resumption of construction works in the real estate sector last June which instantly resulted in more than 55,000 workers returning to work, hence, providing their much-needed livelihood, and the construction of more than 400,000 housing units. (30)