In a statement, Creba National Chairman Charlie A. V. Gorayeb said that with government providing the land, private housing developers can take care of building housing units in transit-oriented locations. This partnership can significantly increase the supply of decent housing and, as a result, improve the quality of life of a large number of still homeless Filipinos around the country.
The Philippines has undoubtedly a greater need for affordable housing, estimated to be almost 7 million at present and can increase to 20 million by 2040 unless the government can come up with tangible solutions. Of this huge number, 1.9 million are informal settlers. 478,899 of them live within Metro Manila, mostly occupying waterways and danger zones which, have been identified by the DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways) as priority for clearing and improvement to prevent future widespread flooding in the metropolis.
Attempts to address the massive housing need and relocate the informal settlers to disaster-free areas by past administrations have been unsuccessful. Gorayeb said that the main obstacle is the lack of available land in places where livelihood opportunities are concentrated. But the Department of Transportation's (DOTr) various projects have opened up enormous opportunities to address the need for affordable housing with easy access to livelihood through via improved mass transit systems.
Creba National President Noel Toti M. Cariño cited as an example the North-South Commuter Railway (NSCR) that the DOTr has started building to connect the Clark International Airport in Pampanga to Calamba in Laguna presents a promising solution through transit-oriented development (TOD).
Cariño said that under the TOD concept, including sites for affordable housing near the stations will provide private housing developers with sites to build the required housing units mandated of them by Republic Act (RA) 7279 or the "Urban Development and Housing Act," as amended by RA 10884 in 2016, thus contributing to the reduction of the housing backlog as well as to the resettlement of the families still living in danger zones.
Both Gorayeb and Cariño envision that if only 10 percent of the TOD areas of the six stations under Phase 1 of the NSCR were allocated for affordable housing, this can produce at least 37,000 housing units that can accommodate some 185,000 people. This may be small compared with the housing backlog, but it can serve as a catalyst for a continuous initiative to meet the increasing housing need all over the country.
Creba has tapped the support of the DOTr and the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) in recognition of the important roles that the two agencies play in national development, and the enormous potential contribution that both agencies can make in addressing the escalating problem of squatters and homelessness.
The group said that these departments' mandates have direct impact on the two crucial elements of affordable housing - land allocation and housing production. Through the TOD approach, the DOTr can provide the land necessary for the construction of the housing units, while DHSUD can facilitate the efficient delivery of the housing units in partnership with private housing developers.
Creba is confident that this type of program, coupled with a creative long-term, low-interest and self-liquidating home financing scheme which the group has been pushing for congressional approval, the government and the private developers' sector can establish a solid foundation for effectively meeting the housing needs of Filipinos now and in the years to come.