House passes resolution giving NHA power to award unoccupied houses

Published October 5, 2017, 10:00 PM
By Ben Rosario

The House of Representatives has unanimously adopted a joint resolution that would grant the National Housing Authority (NHA) the power to award other qualified beneficiaries the thousands of unoccupied and unassigned housing units previously reserved for uniformed personnel of the government.

Voting 212 for and zero against, the Lower Chamber approved House Joint Resolution (HJR) No. 15 authored by Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo “Albee” Benitez and several other members of the House Committee on Housing and Urban Development that he chairs.

Benitez pushed for the approval of the measure to address the housing controversy that came to fore when hundreds of homeless members of the Kadamay urban poor organization forced their way into NHA housing projects in San Jose del Monte and Pandi in Bulacan. The members of the organization occupied units meant for members of the police and military services.

President Duterte has also backed the re-awarding of government constructed housing units if the original awardees are no longer interested.

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

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 Penology/Bureau of Corrections housing projects may now be allocated to other qualified beneficiaries if the said houses are not yet occupied.

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 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.

Benitez said the Commission on Audit 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,” the senior administration solon lamented.

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

He warned that the glut in vacant houses threaten government’s bid to recover expenses that can be used for other social projects. He added that this will also result in the fast deterioration of the units, expose them to risk of being occupied by unqualified or unintended beneficiaries and deprive beneficiaries of the timely use and benefits of the housing projects.

Aside from Benitez, other authors of HJR 15 are Reps. Jose Christopher Belmonte (LP, Quezon City); Ron Salo (Kabayan Party-list); Rozzano Rufino Biazon (LP, Muntinlupa City); Winston Castelo (PDP-Laban, Quezon City); Raneo Abu (PDP-Laban, Batangas); Aurelio “Dong” Gonzales (LP, Pampanga) and Aileen Radaza (PDP-Laban, Cebu).