Socialized Housing Production Hits Record Low,SHDA Highlights Compliance Challenges at Housing Summit

During the enlightening 2nd Socialized Housing Summit, Santiago F. Ducay from the Subdivision and Housing Developers Association (SHDA) presented a concerning update on the state of socialized housing in the Philippines. The year 2023 saw the production of socialized housing units plummet to a historic low since 2001, with only 10,113 units completed. This stark decline underscores the growing challenges developers face in adhering to the mandated socialized housing construction requirements, leading many to opt for alternative compliance methods.

Ducay’s presentation at the summit, organized by the Ateneo Center for Social Entrepreneurship (ACSent) and Social Enterprise Development Partnerships Inc. (SEDPI) on March 18-19, 2024, at the Ateneo de Manila University, highlighted the legal framework governing socialized housing development. Despite the clear mandates outlined in Republic Act No. 7279, also known as the “Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992,” and subsequent amendments, the actual construction of socialized housing has been fraught with obstacles. These challenges have prompted developers to favor incentivized compliance via escrow, a method that, while legally permissible, does not directly contribute to increasing the stock of socialized housing units.

The summit delved into the nuances of the compliance mechanisms available to developers, including joint ventures with local government units (LGUs) and non-government organizations (NGOs), development of new settlements, and participation in community mortgage programs. However, the preference for the escrow option points to a need for a more streamlined and less burdensome compliance process that encourages direct investment in the construction of socialized housing.

Ducay also addressed the critical issue of the socialized housing price ceiling adjustments, noting that the last revision in 2018 has not kept pace with the rising costs of construction and land acquisition. This gap further complicates developers’ ability to deliver affordable housing units to low-income families, exacerbating the housing crisis.

In light of these challenges, SHDA’s presentation called for government intervention to facilitate easier compliance and encourage more developers to invest directly in socialized housing projects. Suggestions included revising the price ceiling for socialized housing, offering tax incentives, and reducing bureaucratic hurdles that currently deter developers from undertaking socialized housing projects.

The 2nd Socialized Housing Summit served as a crucial platform for stakeholders across the housing sector to converge, share insights, and discuss innovative solutions to the pressing housing needs of Filipinos. With the collaboration of ACSent and SEDPI, the summit underscored the importance of collective efforts in addressing the affordability and accessibility of housing in the Philippines, especially for the marginalized and low-income populations. The historic low in socialized housing production highlights an urgent call to action for both the government and the private sector to reevaluate and enhance their strategies for fulfilling the nation’s housing needs.

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