HOUSING MATTERS

By: Eduardo D. Del Rosario@inquirerdotnet

Philippine Daily Inquirer / 3:10 AM January 16, 2021

Home ownership, for a vast majority of Filipinos, remains an elusive dream.

For one, ownership of land is considered a prime asset and will cost a family earning minimum income a lifetime worth of mortgage payments. This is true especially to those who choose to live in cities and urban centers. They have to contend with the high cost of land, which is further exacerbated by the rising costs of materials and construction.

Sadly, it forces many to settle along danger zones—often in embankments of waterways, railways and other similarly hazardous, unsuitable and densely populated areas with poor living conditions. But this should not be the case.

Unknown to many, there exists an obscure yet trailblazing housing finance option for informal settler families (ISFs) who desire homeownership but have little means. In fact, it has been serving Filipino households for over three decades already.

I am referring to the Social Housing Finance Corp.’s (SHFC) Community Mortgage Program (CMP). SHFC is an attached agency of the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) and one of our key partners in fulfilling our mandate of providing access to decent and affordable housing to every Filipino family.

Community ownership

Established in 1988, the CMP is a people-led finance and community development program implemented by SHFC, which assists legally organized associations of low-income groups to acquire and develop a tract of land under the concept of community ownership. Its primary objective is to assist residents of blighted or depressed areas to own the lots they occupy, or where they choose to relocate, and eventually create sustainable and resilient communities.

Since its inception, the CMP has enabled over 300,000 households towards homeownership. From inhumane conditions, beneficiaries can now enjoy decent homes in subdivision-like communities. They are also empowered by being deeply involved in the decision-making process, allowing them to determine how their homes will turn out depending on their capacity to pay.

SHFC works in coordination with local government units (LGUs) for the implementation of the CMP. LGUs play a crucial role in the provision of decent housing for low-income families. After all, LGUs are mandated to undertake the provision of housing services for their constituents under Republic Act No. 7279 or the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992. The agency’s collaboration with LGUs includes refinancing housing projects and opening of local offices and branches to bring its services closer to the public.

SHFC has so far teamed up with about 100 LGUs. The agency added 27 partners last year through virtual signing ceremonies amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which had further emphasized the need for adequate housing to ensure enough space for physical distancing and prevent the spread of viruses. Some of SHFC’s new partner-LGUs include Taysan in Batangas, Tubigon in Bohol, Roxas in Isabela, and Mariveles in Bataan.

Amid the pandemic, the SHFC is working doubly hard to ensure the delivery of safe, decent, resilient and affordable housing. From January to November 2020, more than P922.5 million in loan assistance through the CMP was released, benefitting over 11,700 families from 32 CMP projects.

CMP modalities

The soaring demand for decent and affordable housing has prompted SHFC to launch new modalities of the CMP with some of the variants, such as the Vertical CMP, already being implemented and yielding significant results.

Vertical CMP is a modality wherein a community of ISFs is accommodated in a multistory building, usually a medium-rise vertical structure, such as condominiums. An example of a project under this modality is the Ciudad de Strike 2 in Bacoor City, which was inaugurated in November 2019. This P648-million Vertical CMP initiative features 20 three-story buildings that accommodated 1,500 families who were previously living along danger zones in the cities of Parañaque and Las Piñas.

Another new modality is Post-Disaster Recovery and Rehabilitation CMP, which provides assistance to community housing projects in times of disaster. The maiden initiative under this modality is the Guadalupe Homeowners Association, which broke ground in December 2019. This initiative allowed SHFC to provide assistance in terms of disaster-resilient housing projects and site development for about 150 families who were rendered homeless by Typhoon Yolanda.

Other modalities include On-Site and Site Upgrading/Development CMP, which is intended for organized communities of ISFs who are already residing in an area without the consent of the landowner; and Special Projects CMP, which is initiated and funded by a government agency or private entity which comes in the form of relocation and resettlement project for ISFs or project-affected families.

Turnkey CMP, meanwhile, aims to accelerate the socialized housing provision through the development of complete housing projects on a turnkey basis. This will allow developers of housing projects to comply with the provisions of Balanced Housing Development Program by participating in the CMP. Other new modalities include LGU CMP, Sectoral CMP, Farm Lot CMP, Industrial Workers CMP, Housing for Peace Process and Nation Building CMP, Mixed-Use CMP and Culturally Sensitive CMP.

In collaboration with other KSAs in achieving DHSUD’s unified vision of Building Adequate, Livable, Affordable, and Inclusive (BALAI) Filipino Communities, SHFC is continuously making the CMP more accessible and relevant to its beneficiaries. The CMP will remain to be people-led and a community development program to provide decent and resilient housing for Filipino families.