As one of the highly urbanized areas in Metro Manila, Marikina City has its share of poor migrants in search of better opportunities. Prior to this program, about one-third of Marikina's population lived in 45 depressed areas; squatted on private and government lots; lived in danger zones such as along river banks, creeks, road right-of-ways, road lots and public open spaces.
The passage of the New Local Government Code and the Urban Development and Housing Act gave impetus to the locality's vision for a squatter-free city. Started in 1993, the program is implemented by the Marikina Settlement Office (MSO). To date, 7,000 squatter families were relocated to five major resettlement sites. Each settler/family is entitled to own a 24 square meter lot with amortization rate ranging from P200 to P3OO per month payable in 25 years through the Community Mortgage Program (CMP). The MSO offered livelihood and skills training for self or wage employment. Orientations on the process of organizing cooperatives and management were conducted to make people aware of their responsibilities and to encourage them to get involved. A total of 158 urban poor associations have been organized and strengthened. Fourteen (14) more are being formed to assist in the implementation of the program.
The program had provided the beneficiaries houses which they can call their own. Relocatees now enjoy the luxury of living in a safe, secure environment with reliable utilities and basic infrastructure facilities like roads and drainage systems. They also gained greater access to other essential services like garbage collection, health, rescue and emergency assistance. These changes have affected the lives of 200,000 residents. These strategies have liberated the river banks of squatters and had transformed the Marikina river into what it is today, the only ecologically alive river in Metro Manila. A total of 500 hectares were cleared of squatters as well as the development of a total of 100 hectares of privately-owned lands for resettlement. Through this program, Marikina can now claim to be a model squatter-free city in the metropolis.
This program is recognized as one of the Ten Outstanding Programs in the 1998 Galing Pook Awards.