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From the Chairman

Charlie A.V. Gorayeb

Charlie A.V. Gorayeb

Chairman of the Board, CREBA Chairman, CREBA Advocacy & Legislative Affairs Committee Honorary Consul General, Republic of Djibouti

Affordable Homes for Employees in Urban Areas

SECOND in CREBA’s “Five-point Agenda for Housing” is the proposed bill amending Republic Act 7279 or the Urban Development and Housing Act (UDHA) of 1992, to address the need of urban workers for affordable homes easily accessible to the place of work. 

Section 18 of UDHA, which sets forth the balanced housing program, mandates developers of subdivisions to build socialized housing equivalent to 20% of their total project area or cost. 

At present, proposed measures have been filed at both houses of the legislature seeking to include owners and developers of condominium projects among those mandated to contribute to the production of socialized housing.

House Bill 4116, passed on third reading at the Lower House was filed by Reps. Amado S. Bagatsing, Lani Mercado-Revilla and the Akbayan Party-list led by Rep. Ibarra M. Gutierrez III, among others. The counterpart, Senate Bill No. 2263, was filed by Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago.

To CREBA’s mind, the proposed coverage of condominiums under the socialized housing quota will be workable, but only if compliance projects will be reduced to a more reasonable cap of 5% of the net saleable residential area instead of 20% of the total project area or cost. 

For subdivisions, the reduction of the quota to 15% will make it more realistic and feasible for developers to comply with. 

CREBA believes that any alternative mode of compliance to the socialized housing quota must be geared towards actual addition to the housing stock to help ease the supply and demand gap. This includes: (a) Development of new settlements; (b) Joint-venture initiatives between a real estate developer and either the local government units; any of the key shelter agencies; or with another developer; and (c) Development of socialized medium-rise condominium buildings.

No other alternatives – such that will not yield any new housing unit – should be allowed or encouraged.

CREBA likewise proposes that a new socialized housing package for MRB’s or condominiums with a minimum floor area of 36 square meter per unit located in urban areas be created so that they, too, can qualify for tax incentives provided for under Sec. 20 of UDHA, with price ceilings solely determined by HUDCC, and updated every five (5) years in consultation with NEDA.

However, the social obligation imposed by law is not without a corresponding obligation on the part of the government. Hence, the superfluous and repetitive requirement for a BIR ruling for every project that is built must finally be stopped.

Instead, we appeal that a provision in Sec. 20 of UDHA be added whereby BIR shall accept the Socialized Housing Certification issued by the HLURB as the only requirement for the issuance of the CAR and TCL to the Registry of Deeds.

Building vertical residential communities is timely to start creating opportunities out of the growing scarcity and increasing cost of land in the cities – which remains to be the centre of business activities, employment, livelihood, education and other inevitable basic services – where demand for decent and affordable housing will be constantly at its peak. 

Providing mass housing the impetus it deserves will lead to more activities in construction and real estate, which will then redound to the benefit of both the public and private sectors. It is a move that works to the advantage of all stakeholders and, at the very least, deserves the attention and consideration of government.

Published in the Manila Bulletin March 2015

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