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Monday, September 26, 2005

Understanding Nation Building (Part 9)

On Housing

The Situation: The government’s neglect of this basic need is evident in the growing number of illegal settlers in every major urban center of the country. In Metro Manila alone, no less than one-third of all residents are squatters. The provision of housing has tended to serve the middle and upper income groups far more than those with only marginal incomes. Government initiatives undertaken to build homes for low-income groups cannot cope with the huge and growing number of poor families to be served. Every improvement of facilities in the cities has only served as a magnet for new migrants from the countryside. The problem goes back to the lack of job opportunities and facilities for individual advancement in the countryside.

BLUEPRINT Analysis: It is obvious that the housing problem in its present form cannot be addressed simply by allowing the play of demand and supply in a free market system. For one, studies show that regular housing produced by the private sector (with government financing or guarantees) is not affordable to many people. Second, data show that those in the middle to high-income bracket have captured a significant percentage of housing subsidies. Also, one factor that has pushed up the price of housing is overpriced land as a result of problems in the distribution and rationalization of land. Proper delineation and zoning of land should be made. In any event, cities like Metro Manila have to be decongested. Any initiative in this area, as in education, requires massive resources that the government may not be able to raise in the short term.

BLUEPRINT Recommendations: Recognizing that access to housing is a right, the government should increase its budgetary allocation for housing. However, given scarce public funds, targeted subsidies to the poor should be prioritized and the leakage of subsidies to middle and high-income groups should be plugged. Formulate a clear land use policy at the national level. Improve security of tenure of land and land registration. Impose a higher tax on idle land. Embark on a Balik-Probinsiya Program to discourage in-city migration through a relocation assistance program complemented with an employment generation program in the rural areas. Housing and employment must be tackled as an integrated problem. Professional squatting syndicates that prey on small lot owners and helpless squatters will be pursued and prosecuted. Industries that relocate to non-agricultural areas outside the cities will be given special incentives. The provision of low-cost housing will be given more priority. To reduce the cost of housing for the poor, the government will adopt a modular house construction approach in which housing designs will be standardized and modularized housing components will be easily assembled.

Big Mango

We've done this for twenty years. Nothing has happened. Its not a practical policy to subsidize Housing. We're not teaching out people to be independent, to be self sufficient.

The huge problem of people moving to Metro Manila is because everything is here. Every industry, every job is here. The only answer is to aggressively revitalize our countryside. Give the initiatives to the local governments--- to provincial governments. It deters people from leaving their towns if there are jobs and opportunities there. At the same time, people will move back to their provinces as soon as opportunities arise in those areas.

People will flock to where money and opportunities are.

With regard to housing for existing people in the major metropolis, it shouldn't be a rental, but a long term lease and should be managed and distributed by the local governments in those regions, not the national government.

This is a social service that again, a national government though it has its concern shouldn't be involved in.

Like it or not, the decentralization of national government functions and the transfer of these duties to the local government is a clear first step in bringing the Philippines into the future.