By Zaldy De Layola

(File photo)

MANILA – Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) Secretary Jose Rizalino Acuzar has described the administration’s Pambansang Pabahay para sa Pilipino Program in the urban areas as “advantageous to both real estate owners and informal settler families (ISF) currently inhabiting private properties.

This is in line with President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s prioritization of in-city settlements under his Pambansang Pabahay (National Housing) program.

In a recent interview, Acuzar said Pambansang Pabahay primarily focuses on developing lands for human settlements near the sources of livelihood of target beneficiaries. Most of these lands are found in the metropolis or in the center of urban areas – some owned by private citizens – where ISFs persistently thrive.

“For a long time, we are not able to provide proper shelters to ISFs living in private properties, especially in urban areas. At the same time, the owners of these lands do not have the opportunity to develop their properties for optimum advantage. With the ‘Pambansang Pabahay’, we can offer to achieve both with appropriate planning,” Acuzar said, adding that it is a ‘win-win’ situation.

Under the Pambansang Pabahay flagship program, the government aims to build 1 million housing units per year until 2028 to address the country’s housing needs.

As one of its initial strategies, DHSUD has been exploring available lands for housing development all over the country, including government idle lands, with local government units.

“I am calling on all private owners of lands in the cities that can be used for government housing development to coordinate with DHSUD so that we can make use of these properties for human settlements and urban development. Allow us to explore prospects which can be mutually beneficial to all parties involved,” Acuzar said.

Marcos earlier said he will issue an executive order to use government idle lands for housing development to support the program.

Apart from building housing units, the Pambansang Pabahay also promotes township development to provide housing communities easy access to sources of income and other services the home dwellers will need in everyday life.

“Through this, we can ensure sustainable economic activities to continuously improve the living conditions of homeowners, and even extend this to nearby communities,” Acuzar said.

Meanwhile, Acuzar warned again the public and other stakeholders to only transact with the Department, its key shelter agencies and their local government in regard to the housing program.

“We encourage everyone, including interested real property owners, to directly come to us for any queries on the program,” he said. (PNA)