Grant unoccupied housing units to homeless—House

posted October 06, 2017 at 12:01 am by Maricel Cruz

The House of Representatives has adopted a joint resolution granting the National Housing Authority the authority to award unoccupied and unassigned housing units previously reserved for uniformed personnel of the government to other qualified beneficiaries.

In a unanimous vote from 212 lawmakers, the House approved House Joint Resolution authored by Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo Benitez and several other members of the House committee on housing and urban development.

Benitez, the panel head, pushed for the approval of the resolution to address the housing controversy involving the illegal takeover of members of the Kadamay urban poor group into NHA housing projects in San Jose del Monte and Pandi in Bulacan that was intended for uniformed personnel of the police and the military.

“Instead of leaving the finished units to deteriorate and go to waste, it has become imperative for government to let other homeless families to benefit from its low cost housing program.” Benitez said.

He noted that even President Rodrigo Duterte has also backed the reawarding of government constructed housing units if the original awardees are no longer interested.

Under HJR 15, unawarded housing units in the Armed Forces of the Philippines/Philippine National Police/ Bureau of Fire Protection/ Bureau of Jail Management and Penlogy/Bureau of Corrections housing projects may now be allocated to other qualified beneficiaries if the said houses are not yet occupied.

The HJR provides that the transfer of award may cover shelters whose ownership and possession are surrendered by awardees. Also, units whose respective awards have been canceled due to default in the payment of amortization and violation of the terms and conditions of the loan agreement may also be awarded to new applicants.

Benitez disclosed that the government has allocated P22.779 billion to implement the housing program for uniformed personnel. The budget called for the construction of 74,195 housing units as of March 31, 2017, he added.

Benitez said the Commission on Audit (CoA) has reported that as of 2016, 62,472 units have already been completed but only 7,143 were occupied. The remainder, 55,329, remained unoccupied as of December, 2016.

“The low occupancy rate of the completed housing units by their intended beneficiaries is a clear indication of a failed program in the face of the magnitude of the need for housing,” Benitez said.

“The reported occupancy rate of the completed housing units for the program is at a mere 8.09 percent,” Benitez added

Benitez warned that the abundance of vacant houses threaten government’s bid to recover expenses that can be used for other social projects.

He added that the un-awarded housing units would also result in the fast deterioration of the units, expose them to risk of being occupied by unqualified or unintended beneficiaries and deprive beneficiaires of the timely use and benefits of the housing projects.