DREAM BIG | Making people’s lives better through decent housing

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Saturday, March 25, 2017

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THE LACK of decent housing is a serious human rights issue we cannot just ignore. In one of his speeches, Pope Francis said that “the Son of God came into this world a homeless person.” Emphasizing his point on homelessness, the Pontiff asked: “How is it that the Son of God has no home? Why are we homeless, why don’t we have housing? And those of us who do have a home, a roof over our heads, would also do well to ask: Why do these, our brothers and sisters, have no place to live?”

We need to confront these questions no matter how uncomfortable they are. According to the United Nations (UN) there are “well over a billion people are not adequately housed.” It added that “millions around the world live in life- or health threatening conditions, in overcrowded slums and informal settlements, or in other conditions which do not uphold their human rights and their dignity.”

In the Philippines, government data estimates a housing backlog amounting to anywhere between 5.5 to 5.8 million. The National Urban Development and Housing Framework 2009-2016 study, for instance, estimates the backlog to “reach 5.8M housing units in 2016.”

According to Dr. Winston Padojinog, the total housing need is estimated to reach 12.3 million by 2030! The Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council of the Philippines further reported that 1.4 million families are considered informal settlers.

Just to give you a human perspective on this, with the average household size of 4.6 person, 1.4 million families translate to 6,440,000 persons. That’s right, 6.4 million human beings whose fundamental right to housing is violated.

Addressing this formidable problem requires the partnership between government and the private sector. It also requires a broader policy perspective on the part of government which would ensure that any policy response will be for the benefit of all.

On my part, I believe that I have done what I can to help our people put roof over their heads. Over the years, I have built close to 400,000 quality houses in 95 cities and municipalities across 36 provinces around the Philippines. But there is a lot more to be done.

Here in Region 6, I have put up various projects in order to provide not only decent housing but also livable, integrated communities to our people. In the Western Visayas, we have put up Camella Aklan, Camella Capiz, and Camella Bacolod in Negros Occidental. Of course we have our flagship project Camella Savannah City in Iloilo.

The lack of decent housing is a poverty issue because when a family does not have access to decent, affordable, habitable and secure home, it also affects their ability to secure a decent standard of living.

The Center for Housing Policy based in Washington DC, for instance, have cited studies showing the ability of families to access decent housing has “profound effects on childhood development and school performance and can improve health outcomes for families and individuals”.

This is a connection that is not difficult to see. For how can a child study well if they are cramped inside a small dwelling which barely resembles a house? How can mother and fathers maintain good health if they are constantly stressed and worried about housing security?


So, here in the Panay region, the critical need is for local government and private sector to collaborate so we can ensure that our people access to decent housing. This will then lead to an improvement in the quality of life of people. After all, whether you are in politics or business, is it not our end goal to make people’s lives better?/PN




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