[Hpn] Winning the war vs homelessness

William Charles Tinker wtinker@verizon.net
Sun, 06 Aug 2006 22:55:53 -0400


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http://opinion.inq7.net/inquireropinion/columns/view_article.php?article_=
id=3D13815

Winning the war vs homelessness=20


By Anna Marie Karaos, Junefe Gilig Payot

Inquirer
Last updated 02:52am (Mla time) 08/07/2006

Published on page A15 of the August 7, 2006 issue of the Philippine =
Daily Inquirer=20

VICE PRESIDENT NOLI DE CASTRO, AS HEAD OF THE Housing and Urban =
Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), came out with an advertisement =
titled "Sustaining the War Against Homelessness" in the Inquirer. It =
boasted of the government's accomplishments in housing. But on closer =
examination, the figures are not as impressive as they seem.

For starters, it is doubtful that the 200,000 families-which the ad =
claimed have been "empowered" through the Presidential Proclamations =
Program-feel that much has changed with their lives. Under the program, =
government-owned lands are declared socialized housing sites to be =
distributed to their urban poor occupants.

Empowerment can come with security of tenure, but the latter can only be =
had when families get their certificates of entitlement for lot =
allocation (CELA). So far, only about 14,000 families have been awarded =
their CELAs. This accomplishment covers a five-year period starting in =
2001.

Second, the Community Mortgage Program (CMP), which gives housing loans =
to urban poor communities, may have met its annual target of 15,000 =
families a year. But the target is set at a very low level. The =
program's accomplishment-it assisted 70,000 families in five years-has =
very little impact on the enormous housing need of the country.

Third, the relocation of 40,000 families, although it provides security =
of tenure as the ad claims, may have actually resulted in the reduced =
well-being for many families who lost their sources of income as a =
result of the transfer. The inadequacy of basic services in the =
resettlement sites has also left many families feeling worse off now =
than before.

What are the reasons behind this lackluster performance?

The HUDCC should act more decisively in pushing for the distribution of =
the proclaimed lands. On the other hand, the National Housing Authority, =
which administers 42 of the 94 sites proclaimed so far, faults the =
absence of a budget for the slow disposition of the lands.

The fact that there have been fewer new proclamations in the past two =
years compared to the first three years of President Macapagal-Arroyo's =
presidency, indicates the waning interest of the political leadership to =
cater to the expectations of the urban poor. It will be recalled that =
the so-called "Edsa III" assault on Malaca=F1ang in 2001, which was =
identified with the urban poor, was a threat that the newly installed =
Arroyo administration did not take lightly.

In previous years, the en banc meetings of the National Anti-Poverty =
Commission (NAPC), presided over by the President, were an effective =
venue for pressuring government agencies to agree to the disposition of =
the lands they owned for social housing. During her second term, the =
President has not convened the NAPC en banc because the representatives =
of the basic sectors have not been appointed. And why has the President =
delayed their appointment?

It is believed that many of the nominees for the NAPC's sectoral =
representatives are identified with groups that supported the =
impeachment move against the President last year. Under the NAPC law, =
the President can appoint the sectoral commissioners only from the list =
of nominees submitted by the respective sectoral councils. Since her =
choices are limited to people she perceives are not her supporters, she =
has chosen not to make any appointments, in effect demobilizing the NAPC =
as a mechanism for basic sector participation.

As for the problems faced in the relocation projects, the main reason =
for these is the failure to program resettlement requirements in =
advance. For instance, in the case of the NorthRail, the communities =
were allowed to participate in the search for relocation sites, which =
was a good thing. But because the decision came late, the transfer of =
the families had to be rushed; and it was done before the resettlement =
sites could be fully equipped with the necessary basic services.

The low output of the CMP, on the other hand, is attributed by the =
Social Housing Finance Corp. (SHFC) to low budgetary support. But NGOs =
have complained that the SHFC has available funds which it is investing =
to earn income for the agency instead of making these available for CMP =
loans. The SHFC has countered with the claim that the program's low =
output is due to the applicant communities' slow compliance with the =
loan requirements.

So what should be done?

First of all, housing targets must be formulated with a view to reducing =
the housing backlog. As it is, the government is only targeting to =
deliver 1.4 million units from 2005 to 2010 vis-=E0-vis an expected =
housing need of 3.7 million units for the same period. The private =
sector can hardly be expected to supply the balance especially since the =
bulk of the demand for housing comes from low-income families who are =
not its market.

Thus, it is suggested that the targets of the CMP, the Presidential =
Proclamations and slum upgrading be increased by at least a hundred =
percent. In addition, the SHFC must devise new programs catering to a =
greater number of homeless families that may be ineligible or unable to =
access the CMP.

With respect to the proclamations, the implementing rules and =
regulations for the disposition of the proclaimed sites must be issued, =
and participation of the concerned communities must be ensured in the =
local inter-agency committees overseeing the land distribution. The NHA =
should be allocated a reasonable budget to proceed with the disposition =
of the lands.

As for resettlement, the development of the sites should be programmed =
well in advance. Adequate funding must also be given not just for site =
development and housing but for basic social services-like education, =
health services and livelihood. In addition, the National Economic and =
Development Authority must make sure that all infrastructure projects =
have a resettlement plan with an adequate budget even before they are =
approved.

Finally, money is needed to make all this possible. If the government is =
indeed serious about meeting the housing need, it must put its money =
where its mouth is. President Arroyo said in her Sona that funds are now =
available "to address social inequity and economic disparity." What can =
be a clearer symptom and effect of social inequity than homelessness?

Only then will the "War Against Homelessness" be truly won.

The Institute on Church and Social Issues is a policy research and =
advocacy center of the Philippine Province of the Society of Jesus. =
E-mail address: icsi@admu.edu.ph



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<DIV><SPAN class=3Dfontheadline><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2><A=20
href=3D"http://opinion.inq7.net/inquireropinion/columns/view_article.php?=
article_id=3D13815">http://opinion.inq7.net/inquireropinion/columns/view_=
article.php?article_id=3D13815</A></FONT></SPAN></DIV>
<DIV><SPAN class=3Dfontheadline></SPAN>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV><SPAN class=3Dfontheadline>Winning the war vs homelessness =
</SPAN><BR></DIV>
<P class=3Dfontsubheadline></P>
<DIV><SPAN class=3Dfontbyline>By Anna Marie Karaos, Junefe Gilig=20
Payot</SPAN></DIV>
<DIV><SPAN class=3Dfontbyline></SPAN><BR><SPAN=20
class=3Dfontbyline>Inquirer</SPAN><BR><SPAN class=3Dfonttimestamp>Last =
updated=20
02:52am (Mla time) 08/07/2006</SPAN><BR></DIV>
<P class=3Dfonteditor>Published on page A15 of the August 7, 2006 issue =
of the=20
Philippine Daily Inquirer </P>
<P>VICE PRESIDENT NOLI DE CASTRO, AS HEAD OF THE Housing and Urban =
Development=20
Coordinating Council (HUDCC), came out with an advertisement titled =
=93Sustaining=20
the War Against Homelessness=94 in the Inquirer. It boasted of the =
government=92s=20
accomplishments in housing. But on closer examination, the figures are =
not as=20
impressive as they seem.</P>
<P>For starters, it is doubtful that the 200,000 families=97which the ad =
claimed=20
have been =93empowered=94 through the Presidential Proclamations =
Program=97feel that=20
much has changed with their lives. Under the program, government-owned =
lands are=20
declared socialized housing sites to be distributed to their urban poor=20
occupants.</P>
<P>Empowerment can come with security of tenure, but the latter can only =
be had=20
when families get their certificates of entitlement for lot allocation =
(CELA).=20
So far, only about 14,000 families have been awarded their CELAs. This=20
accomplishment covers a five-year period starting in 2001.</P>
<P>Second, the Community Mortgage Program (CMP), which gives housing =
loans to=20
urban poor communities, may have met its annual target of 15,000 =
families a=20
year. But the target is set at a very low level. The program=92s =
accomplishment=97it=20
assisted 70,000 families in five years=97has very little impact on the =
enormous=20
housing need of the country.</P>
<P>Third, the relocation of 40,000 families, although it provides =
security of=20
tenure as the ad claims, may have actually resulted in the reduced =
well-being=20
for many families who lost their sources of income as a result of the =
transfer.=20
The inadequacy of basic services in the resettlement sites has also left =
many=20
families feeling worse off now than before.</P>
<P>What are the reasons behind this lackluster performance?</P>
<P>The HUDCC should act more decisively in pushing for the distribution =
of the=20
proclaimed lands. On the other hand, the National Housing Authority, =
which=20
administers 42 of the 94 sites proclaimed so far, faults the absence of =
a budget=20
for the slow disposition of the lands.</P>
<P>The fact that there have been fewer new proclamations in the past two =
years=20
compared to the first three years of President Macapagal-Arroyo=92s =
presidency,=20
indicates the waning interest of the political leadership to cater to =
the=20
expectations of the urban poor. It will be recalled that the so-called =
=93Edsa=20
III=94 assault on Malaca=F1ang in 2001, which was identified with the =
urban poor,=20
was a threat that the newly installed Arroyo administration did not take =

lightly.</P>
<P>In previous years, the en banc meetings of the National Anti-Poverty=20
Commission (NAPC), presided over by the President, were an effective =
venue for=20
pressuring government agencies to agree to the disposition of the lands =
they=20
owned for social housing. During her second term, the President has not =
convened=20
the NAPC en banc because the representatives of the basic sectors have =
not been=20
appointed. And why has the President delayed their appointment?</P>
<P>It is believed that many of the nominees for the NAPC=92s sectoral=20
representatives are identified with groups that supported the =
impeachment move=20
against the President last year. Under the NAPC law, the President can =
appoint=20
the sectoral commissioners only from the list of nominees submitted by =
the=20
respective sectoral councils. Since her choices are limited to people =
she=20
perceives are not her supporters, she has chosen not to make any =
appointments,=20
in effect demobilizing the NAPC as a mechanism for basic sector=20
participation.</P>
<P>As for the problems faced in the relocation projects, the main reason =
for=20
these is the failure to program resettlement requirements in advance. =
For=20
instance, in the case of the NorthRail, the communities were allowed to=20
participate in the search for relocation sites, which was a good thing. =
But=20
because the decision came late, the transfer of the families had to be =
rushed;=20
and it was done before the resettlement sites could be fully equipped =
with the=20
necessary basic services.</P>
<P>The low output of the CMP, on the other hand, is attributed by the =
Social=20
Housing Finance Corp. (SHFC) to low budgetary support. But NGOs have =
complained=20
that the SHFC has available funds which it is investing to earn income =
for the=20
agency instead of making these available for CMP loans. The SHFC has =
countered=20
with the claim that the program=92s low output is due to the applicant=20
communities=92 slow compliance with the loan requirements.</P>
<P>So what should be done?</P>
<P>First of all, housing targets must be formulated with a view to =
reducing the=20
housing backlog. As it is, the government is only targeting to deliver =
1.4=20
million units from 2005 to 2010 vis-=E0-vis an expected housing need of =
3.7=20
million units for the same period. The private sector can hardly be =
expected to=20
supply the balance especially since the bulk of the demand for housing =
comes=20
from low-income families who are not its market.</P>
<P>Thus, it is suggested that the targets of the CMP, the Presidential=20
Proclamations and slum upgrading be increased by at least a hundred =
percent. In=20
addition, the SHFC must devise new programs catering to a greater number =
of=20
homeless families that may be ineligible or unable to access the =
CMP.</P>
<P>With respect to the proclamations, the implementing rules and =
regulations for=20
the disposition of the proclaimed sites must be issued, and =
participation of the=20
concerned communities must be ensured in the local inter-agency =
committees=20
overseeing the land distribution. The NHA should be allocated a =
reasonable=20
budget to proceed with the disposition of the lands.</P>
<P>As for resettlement, the development of the sites should be =
programmed well=20
in advance. Adequate funding must also be given not just for site =
development=20
and housing but for basic social services=97like education, health =
services and=20
livelihood. In addition, the National Economic and Development Authority =
must=20
make sure that all infrastructure projects have a resettlement plan with =
an=20
adequate budget even before they are approved.</P>
<P>Finally, money is needed to make all this possible. If the government =
is=20
indeed serious about meeting the housing need, it must put its money =
where its=20
mouth is. President Arroyo said in her Sona that funds are now available =
=93to=20
address social inequity and economic disparity.=94 What can be a clearer =
symptom=20
and effect of social inequity than homelessness?</P>
<P>Only then will the =93War Against Homelessness=94 be truly won.</P>
<P><EM>The Institute on Church and Social Issues is a policy research =
and=20
advocacy center of the Philippine Province of the Society of Jesus. =
E-mail=20
address: <A=20
href=3D"mailto:icsi@admu.edu.ph">icsi@admu.edu.ph</A></EM></P>

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