The Quezon City Socialized Housing Program
About a third of the total households in Quezon City reside in slum areas because they cannot afford to rent, much less, buy decent homes. Most of them do not have regular incomes and some of those who do, such as the public school teachers, have very meager incomes that they cannot afford decent housing at commercially available rates.
For years the Quezon City government relied on the National Housing Authority (NHA) and the Socialized Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC) to provide low-cost housing units for the poor. But the housing program of these agencies fell short. Thus, the LGU decided to come up with a more multi-dimensional program beginning in 2010.
First, the LGU came up with a shelter plan to systematically study housing needs, causes and solutions. Then, it organized and upgraded its departments to establish a structure with multi-stakeholder participation and tasked it to coordinate and develop sustainable solutions to the housing and resettlement problem. It also enacted revenue measures to generate and mobilize funds for the housing project. Lastly, it entered into partnership agreements with land owners, housing developers and civic organizations to expand the resources and facilities for its low-cost housing program.
The project structure is designed so that the Housing, Community Development and Resettlement Department (HCDRD), which was formerly the Urban Poor Affairs Office, has to team-up with the Housing Board, the Task Force on Socialized Housing and Blighted Areas, and the Mayor’s Office to address the various facets of the program such as engineering, social services, planning and development, housing and resettlement. The HCDRD was tasked with the identification and census of informal communities, the planning and programming of effective resettlement solutions, social preparation, provision of livelihood, and guides to estate management and community administration.
With the Idle Land Tax and the Socialized Housing Tax, the LGU is able to generate about PhP70 million and PhP250 million a year respectively to finance the in-city socialized housing projects. To date, the LGU has eight low-cost housing projects that can accommodate 2,367 households. The target is to keep dwelling unit construction costs to less than PhP450,000 so that the beneficiaries can afford the repayment terms. Financing is done through the Pag-ibig Fund and SHFC loans for those who qualify and can afford the amortization. The other beneficiaries can avail of LGU in-house financing, which has an interest rate of 5.1% and a graduated monthly amortization starting at PhP1,500 for the 1st year, with an increase of 10% each year until the 5th year and PhP2,500 on the 6th year onward until the 30th year.
Quezon City’s socialized housing program aims to create slum-free communities by transforming them into well-organized housing projects with multi-purpose facilities through which the government can extend public services such as health and day-care education. This way, the upgrading of the living conditions of the poor and the removal of urban blight are achieved simultaneously. Under the program, the urban poor communities participate in formulating housing policy and social preparation activities. The private sector is also well represented. As a result, the program has elicited their cooperation, which is in stark contrast to the resistance of informal settlers to previous resettlement programs.
Public school teachers from Holy Spirit Elementary School and San Bartolome Elementary School were among the first beneficiaries of the housing project in Payatas. Those from the Quezon City Polytechnic University were the first beneficiaries in the second housing project. The other beneficiaries were urban poor families who were squatting on the housing site. These households now reside in communities with cemented roads, street lamps, and large breathable spaces-- generally, 58% of the project site is devoted to residences, while 42% is for roads and open spaces. Apart from having access to electrical and water utilities, the households also receive a package of assistance which include livelihood, scholarship and medical programs. The settlements are also conveniently located near schools, major commercial areas, and crossroads, which make them highly accessible.
An estate management program is put in place to help promote sustainability. The beneficiaries are organized by the LGU into homeowners associations who maintain cleanliness and order in the new communities. These associations also serve as conduits between the LGU and the residents for self-help programs that can help improve their income and living conditions. Since the program is buttressed by the appropriate legislation, it will continue to be implemented well after the incumbent LGU officials have left.