Alarmed by the low budget for housing, the vice chairman of the House Committee on Housing and Urban Development said Congress is working for the immediate passage of a bill that will allot P50 billion to address the worsening housing backlog in the country, which could balloon to 22 million units by 2040.

Following the recent Habitat for Humanity Philippines Housing Summit, San Jose Del Monte City Rep. Florida “Rida” P. Robes vowed to push for the immediate approval of a consolidated bill that provides for the development, production and financing of housing projects by providing P50 billion yearly budget for the construction of houses all over the country.

Robes, also chairman of the House Committee on People’s Participation, said her committee is currently in the process of finalizing the consolidated bill that would create the yearly fund that will be known as the National Housing Development and Production Fund.

This fund, she said, will be used solely to cover the cost of housing production and its implementation for a period of 20 years from the effectivity of the proposed law.

“The consolidated bill will allot P50 billion as initial seed money for the financing of public housing, resettlement program, government employees housing, subsidy for informal settlers, amortization support, housing program for calamity victims, among others,” she said. “It’s already in the final stages before the committee approves the final version of the proposed measure and we will work to have it approved before the current session adjourns.”

The measure is an offshoot of the approval by the House of Representatives of House Resolution 1677, which declared a housing crisis in the country as government records show that the country’s total housing needs by 2022 are 6,796,910 units.

Robes said if no proper intervention is done to address the housing backlog, the number could balloon to 22 million units by 2040 with only an average of 0.74 percent of the total budget allotted to address the housing backlog.

Robes added that with the said budget, it is no wonder that government and the private sector were only able to build 777,879 housing units from July 2016 to June 2020. She added that the 2021 budget is even worse with only P3.974 billion or 0.08 percent of the P4.5 trillion allotted for housing agencies.

“With such budget, it is estimated that the government can only build around 2,000 out of some 1.8 million homes it plans to build for informal settlers by 2022. This was confirmed by National Housing Authority General Manager Marcelino P. Escalada Jr. himself in a recent budget hearing. This is very alarming indeed and Congress should step in to reverse this to ensure that every Filipino family, especially the underprivileged, will have a decent house they can call their home,” Robes said.

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