When I was invited to write for this column, I did not hesitate to take on the challenge as I feel privileged and humbled to personally deliver the positive news to our stakeholders through this space, aptly named, Housing Matters. Thank you, Inquirer.
Let me start with the good news amid these challenging times. Since the Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) allowed the resumption of real estate activities, particularly in private construction as well as buying and selling by brokers and sales agents, nearly 60,000 workers have already returned to work. This immediately translates to 264,000 individuals (given the average household size of 4.4 persons) who may not need government support to cope with the adverse effects of COVID-19.
As of June 30, at least 234 developers—with 661 condominium and subdivision projects, equivalent to 417,396 housing and condominium units—have resumed construction.
From the outset of the pandemic, the department and our key shelter agencies, namely, the National Housing Authority, Pag-IBIG Fund, National Home Mortgage Finance Corp. and Social Housing Finance Corp., have been in constant dialogue with the four major developers’ groups National Real Estate Association (NREA), Chamber of Real Estate & Builders’ Associations Inc. (CREBA), Organization of Socialized and Economic Housing Developers of the Philippines (OSHDP) and Subdivision and Housing Developers Association Inc. (SHDA) to ensure that major industry players are with us to withstand this health crisis. The resumption of real estate activities was one of the many proactive steps we have undertaken.
With this, we have immediately triggered economic activities in the supply chain with more than 80 aligned industries involved in housing construction—a huge boost in pump priming the economy.
We balanced our efforts to ensure that the welfare of our member-beneficiaries and partner-developers were protected during the pandemic without compromising health and safety protocols. The department issued guidelines on the housing and short term loan moratorium from March 16 to June 15, benefitting more than 5.5 million member-beneficiaries.
In addition, the Pag-IBIG Fund expanded its House Construction Financing Line from P2 billion to P10 billion that our partner-developers can avail of at a very low interest rate of 6 percent a year. Because of this, developers, especially the small and medium firms, can resume housing production, thus, reinvigorating the industry.
Having this space is very timely as the DHSUD is now at the height of crafting a 20-year National Housing Strategic Plan that will serve as our roadmap in addressing the housing gap and institutionalizing urban development standards. Anchored upon the National Economic and Development Authority’s (Neda) AmBisyon Natin 2040 and the country’s Sustainable Development Goals, the roadmap will reexamine existing policies to complement DHSUD’s strategies as well as streamline existing guidelines.
We are doing this in consultation with our partner-developers to ensure that the changes are in-sync with the private sector. I believe that stakeholder engagement is a key strategy in achieving our administration’s flagship BALAI (Building Adequate, Livable, Affordable and Inclusive) Filipino Program which aims to provide housing assistance to 1.5 million families, particularly the informal settlers by 2022 and onwards.
The roadmap covers short, medium and long term plans designed to bridge the housing gap currently at 6.5 million by 2022, and establish acceptable and doable standards in the future of the Philippines’ housing and urban development.
By the fourth quarter of 2020, the roadmap will be ready and the public would be the first to know about it, of course here, in the Inquirer.
While we are experiencing birth pains and baptized by the COVID-19 pandemic, we have gained positive momentum as we prepare our roadmap. We have started and will continue to build solid foundations to institutionalize reforms in the housing industry.
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