The Philippines Housing Forum, hosted by Habitat for Humanity Philippines, gathered housing experts, policymakers, and community leaders for an insightful people-centered discussion on affordable and resilient housing.
The event, held on September 26, 2023, at the New World Makati Hotel, focused on ‘Facilitating sustainable and affordable housing in low-income and informal settlements.’
Monique Albert-Lopez, Chair of Habitat Philippines’ National Board of Trustees, underscored the urgency of sustainable housing solutions and the necessity of partnerships to ensure safe homes for every Filipino family.
As the event’s Keynote Speaker, Rep. Jose Francisco Benitez, Chair of the House Committee on Housing and Urban Development, called for collective action to address housing needs, especially since the “Philippines is number one in the world in terms of disaster risk. The poor become more vulnerable, and they are the most affected.”
Morning plenary sessions, moderated by international correspondent Jamela Alindogan and Maricen Jalandoni, President of Base Bahay Foundation, delved into inclusive governance in socialized housing programs and policies for affordable resilient housing.
The first plenary session highlighted the significance of a collaborative approach involving civil society organizations (CSOs) in government housing programs, informed by community consultations.
Discussions also explored the Pambansang Pabahay Para sa Pilipino (4PH) program, with Dr. Melissa Navarra from Ateneo De Manila University advocating for alternative, more affordable approaches.
Dr. Navarra pointed out, “There are several modalities that the informal settler families (ISFs) want. They know what they can afford,” following a comparative study between two communities under socialized housing and rapid profiling of informal settlers who could only afford Php500 to Php1,000 monthly amortization.
Eva Marfil, Regional Director of the Department of Housing and Human Settlements (DHSUD) Region VI, said there are avenues for people’s participation, such as the Local Housing Board, to promote inclusive governance. She discussed DHSUD’s openness to recommendations and dialogues about the ongoing development of a subsidy scheme for 4PH.
In the second plenary session, focusing on resilient urban planning and disaster preparedness, Architect Arlene Christy Lusterio, Executive Director of Technical Assistance Organization (TAO) Pilipinas, underscored the vulnerability of informal settlements and the need for community-led approaches to resilient housing design.
“There are green technologies that can be tapped for the informal settlers, low-income families. Once we have data based on actual hazard assessments, then we can give clearer solutions” she said.
The Base Bahay Foundation, Hilti Foundation, and Habitat for Humanity are already implementing eco-friendly Cement Bamboo Frame Technology (CBFT) as a resilient housing solution which has already been tested and implemented in several communities.
Consuelo Mataberde, President of Nawanao Riverside B Homeowners Association and a Habitat homeowner in Paknaan, Mandaue City, Cebu, voiced deep gratitude to Habitat for Humanity for providing resilient, affordable housing and a multipurpose center that strengthens their community bonds.
“I’m a Habitat homeowner, and I wholeheartedly thank Habitat for Humanity. However, many Filipinos still need decent housing, and there’s much work ahead,” she said emotionally in vernacular.
Jessan Catre, Philippine country director of Habitat for Humanity’s Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter, pointed out that the “housing crisis is chronic during normal times and acute during a disaster” and therefore requires a ‘whole-of-society approach’ to resolve it.
“We aim to provide marginalized access to housing programs as it is essential in overcoming economic inequities,” Rowena Dineros, Chief of DHSUD’s Special Housing Projects Division, affirmed while delivering a statement by DHSUD Secretary Rizalino Acuzar.
The forum was concluded by Luis Noda, Habitat for Humanity International’s Vice President for Asia-Pacific, urging stakeholders to respond to the housing need through stronger collaborations.
Sponsored by Ayala Land and Megaworld Corporation, the Philippines Housing Forum is a lead-in event to the 9th Asia-Pacific Housing Forum happening in Suwon, South Korea on October 26-27, 2023.