IN a country teeming with homeless people, including those living in slum districts where crammed squatter shanties are only inches apart, the creation of a new housing department is a welcome news.
As expected, the millions of homeless Filipinos and informal settlers, who are used to the smell of rotting garbage and stinking esteros, cheered after President Duterte signed Republic Act (RA) 11201.
Certainly, the signing of the Act Creating the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) is a step towards the realization of providing affordable homes to the people.
Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo “Albee” Benitez, chair of the House of Representatives committee on housing and urban development, said it’s high time to resolve issues on housing.
“This law shall allow for a unified direction and consolidated efforts toward shelter delivery for our fellow Filipinos,” said Benitez, one of the principal authors of the housing department bill.
Instead of just building houses and other dwelling units, the government shelter programs should also consider access to basic needs, such as livelihood, transportation, education and health.
The new legislation also mandates the DHSUD to develop and implement an urban renewal program that includes the identification of idle public lands that will be used as in-city housing sites.
We agree with the highly-articulate Benitez that idle government lands ought to be used by Filipinos who need dwelling units that are close to their place of work or source of income.
By creating the new department, the government is on track meeting the housing needs of the burgeoning population.
The Duterte administration, which ends on June 30, 2022, deserves the support of the people as it tries to do something more effective regarding homelessness and squatter settlements.