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Senate OKs bill putting housing agencies under one roof

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The Senate wants to consolidate all housing agencies under one body as it passed a measure creating the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD).

The senators passed on third and final reading Senate Bill No.1578 which aims to streamline bureaucracy and compel shelter agencies to “work together more harmoniously and connect their plans and programs.”

Senator JV Ejercito, chairman of the Senate Committee on Urban Planning, Housing and Resettlement, said that the country is facing more than two million housing needs this year.

The figure is projected to balloon to 6,571,387 by the end of 2022. “For the last 30 years, we have been deprived of a rational and systematic way of addressing our nation’s housing needs,” he said.

“We continue to be challenged with problems of overcrowding, restrictions in unlocking land for human settlements, increasing number of homeless people and multiplying families living in slums, riverbanks and danger zones,” Ejercito said in his sponsorship speech.

“What we need is one housing department with one board working towards one direction, creating the roadmap for housing and urban development, leading its implementation, setting the general direction for everyone and able to follow through each and every project with clear functions, policies, budget and financing,” he said.

He said the creation of the DHSUD would combine the administrative functions of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) and the planning and regulatory functions of the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB).

According to Ejercito, the department would be responsible for all housing and urban concerns, including planning, policy making, regulations, program coordination and performance monitoring.

Under the bill, the DHSUD would be composed of the Office of the Secretary, the Bureaus of Policy Development, Coordination, Monitoring and Evaluation, Environmental, Land Use, and Urban Planning and Development, Housing and Real Estate Development Regulation and the Homeowners Association and Community Development.

SBN 1578 also proposes the creation of a National Shelter Board to address housing policies and plans as well as to reduce bureaucracy. “Currently, the governing boards of the key shelter agencies are operating and meeting separately,” Ejercito said.

The board will be composed of the secretary of the Department of the Human Settlements and Urban Development, the director general of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), the secretaries of the Department of Finance (DOF), Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), the heads of the key shelter agencies, specifically the National Housing Authority (NHA), Home Guaranty Cooperation (HGC), National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation (NHMFC), Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF) and the Social Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC).

“The proposed National Shelter Board will rationalize and streamline the governing Boards of the different shelter agencies to come up with a more holistic and coherent plan for the housing and urban development sector,” he added.