Philippines VP pushes for ‘urgent’ federal housing ministry

National housing backlog a ‘ticking time bomb’.

Philippine Vice President Leni Robredo has urged the government to create a federal housing department to shorten approval for housing developments. Bills to create a new Department of Housing and Urban Development have stagnated in the Senate and House of Representatives in the past. “We will try to convince President Duterte to certify [a bill creating a housing department] as urgent so we don’t need to pass the problem to other agencies,” she told the Philippine Star. The country’s housing crisis is a "ticking time bomb", she earlier said. It has accumulated a backlog of 5.7 million housing units since 2011. In the national capital region Metro Manila alone, 2.2 million families live without proper housing, according to preliminary figures gathered by the government in 2015, she added. The current government structure has slowed approvals for new housing units. Robredo chairs a cross-government council to address this backlog, but has no mandate to implement projects. “We need to transfer these [plans] to the Office of the President for them to create an executive order. This makes the process longer,” Robredo said. Currently, projects must be implemented by the National Housing Authority, which is a state-owned company under the President’s office. The country will need to build 2,602 homes a day to make up for the backlog in the next six years, the Vice President estimated. Robredo also plans to make it easier for citizens to apply for housing. “We are looking at [a] one-stop shop concept where they need to go to only one place, and much of the paperwork will be done by the shelter agencies themselves,” she has said. Image by King Rodriguez, Public Domain