Reducing the housing backlog

There's good news for the homeless.

           We're talking about a bill recently passed by the House of Representatives that would strengthen the government’s right to expropriate land for mass housing. 

          House Bill 159 authored by Quezon City Rep. Christopher Belmonte obtained unanimous approval from the House plenary last week. This shows that our lawmakers recognize the seriousness of the housing backlog in the country and want to do something about it.

          The proposed measure would allow expropriation of land even if the ownership issue is still under court litigation. It will allow expropriating agencies or local government units to identify and prioritize the particular areas to be acquired for socialized housing to reduce the country’s massive housing backlog.

          The bill relaxes the rules that restrict expropriation of private land as a mode of acquisition to be pursued only as a last resort. It will also address the country’s worsening housing problem since this will relax rules of land acquisition to boost the government’s socialized housing program. HB 159 seeks to amend Republic Act 7279, or the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992. 

          Under the bill, the lands that may be acquired for socialized housing are the following: those owned by the government or any of its subdivisions, instrumentalities or agencies, including government-owned or controlled corporations and their subsidiaries; alienable lands of the public domain; unregistered or abandoned and idle lands; those within the declared Areas for Priority Development, Zonal Improvement Program sites and Slum Improvement and Resettlement Programs sites which have not yet been acquired; and Bagong Lipunan Improvement of Sites and Services or BLISS sites which have not yet been acquired; and privately owned lands.

          The housing problem has become more acute and defied solution in the face of our rapidly growing population.  With strong political will, the government may yet be able to solve the problem.