Congressman says gov’t housing no longer affordable

PHILIPPINE STAR/ BOY SANTOS

AN ORDER raising the price ceiling of government housing projects has defeated the purpose of socialized housing for low-income families, a member of Congress said on Wednesday.

The price ceilings for socialized housing projects increased by 47% in 2022, according to an issuance order by the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) and the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA).

“(This order) won’t make housing affordable for low-income families,” Party-list Rep. Arlene D. Brosas said during a hearing on an order increasing housing costs in Filipino. “This will affect Filipinos seeking housing drastically as the cost of goods and services continue to increase.”

The DHSUD increased the cost of housing to P2.5 million from P1.7 million due to increasing costs in raw land and construction materials as well as increased labor productivity, a move seen as discouraging low-income Filipinos from affording socialized housing.

“Why did (DHSUD) enact a national price ceiling increase if Filipinos are paid regionally?” Negros Occidental Rep. Francisco B. Benitez said in the same hearing in Filipino, questioning why the housing directive increasing its costs was issued across the board nationally.

Socialized housing costs depend on the area and vicinity of cities, DHSUD Director Angelito F. Aguila said. “The price ceiling is market-driven. Once the developer goes away from the city, they won’t price it at the maximum,” he said.

DHSUD Undersecretary Avelino D. Tolentino III said they studied the costs of housing within and outside Metro Manila, basing the price of socialized housing on it.

“While the prices might seem high and the construction costs might seem high, the actual amortizations when we peg it vis-a-vis affordability levels and income deciles… we were able to see that it matched,” he said.

In the same hearing, Party-list Rep. France L. Castro asked for an update regarding the development of the Philippine government’s housing backlog — which currently stands at 6.5 million units.

DHSUD Director Frank Lloyd C. Gonzaga said there are around 82,000 housing projects under construction in various stages of completion.

“We’re projecting to finish at least 80,000 housing units, if we’re not being conservative,” he said in Filipino.

Last year, President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. vowed to build one million housing units per year until the end of his term. — Kenneth Christiane L. Basilio