Published on September 14, 2013, Business Mirror Online:

The country’s largest real-estate and housing developers’ group has proposed a public-private partnership (PPP) to resolve the worsening squatter problem that is particularly affecting Metro Manila and its environs, and which had been blamed for the recurring floods in the metropolis.

There are thousands of squatter colonies living in Metro Manila’s vital waterways. And while the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and the Department of Public Works and Highways have started so-called clearing operations, many wonder why the squatter colonies continue to mushroom in many places in the metropolis.

Estimates from the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) showed that more than 570,000 squatter families live in communities with unacceptable sanitary standards, high crime rates, and lower access to education and employment. Four out of 10 residents of Metro Manila, the highest urbanized area in the country, now live in the slums, the same estimates show.

The Subdivision and Housing Developers Association Inc. (SHDA), which counts over 200 chapters across the country as members, has called for inclusion of housing projects in the PPP to hasten the solution of the problem. The proposal means construction investments on association’s part, while the government provides housing loans and subsidy.

Under the SHDA proposal, private developers would prepare building plans, undertake and finance the construction of socialized low-rise buildings, assist in the processing of housing loans for the squatter-beneficiaries, and even organize a condominium corporation for these housing projects.

In turn, SHDA hopes the government would subsidize the provision of in-city land that is “fully developed and buildable.” Government agencies could then help by recognizing the project as the developers’ compliance to the socialized housing requirement, setting a price ceiling for the socialized housing units and extending affordable home-loan values to the beneficiaries. The concerned local government unit can also help fast-track permits and provide property management for completed projects.

The association has noted that while socialized housing for the poor continues, the units have largely risen in non-urban areas in the past 20 years. Over half-a-million squatter families “will grow at least at the same pace as the national population growth rate, plus the rate of migration from the provinces because of the promise of jobs in urbanized areas,” Paul Tanchi, SHDA chairman and national president, said. Many relocated squatter families simply return to the cities since they already work there. The situation is further compounded by the migration of provincial job seekers.

SHDA will provide more details of its proposal at the 22nd National Developers’ Convention and General Membership Meeting on September 26 and 27 at the Fairmont Makati. With the theme “Groundwork: Shaping a Sustainable Housing Industry,” the convention will host sessions on “Streamlining the Permitting Process”; “Access to Affordable Housing”; and Exploring Options for End-User Financing.”

The national convention features a number of housing industry luminaries as resource persons, including officials from the HUDCC, National Economic and Development Authority, Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board, Home Development Mutual Fund, Board of Investments and the Land Registration Authority.

SHDA is the largest organization of housing developers in the country. For more information on the SHDA National Developers’ Convention, contact the SHDA Secretariat at 856-1554 or e-mail shda.secretariat@gmail.com.