Another bright new spot in Valenzuela City signals hope for the country’s housing woes as a cluster of 30 buildings at three storeys each rises in Brgy. Ugong through the collective efforts of informal settler families (ISFs) and with the help of the government and non-government organization sectors.
The 4.2-hectare condominium-style Alyansa ng mga Mamamayan sa Valenzuela at Caloocan (AMVACA) Housing Project is being built by 1,440 members of AMVACA Housing Cooperative.
A project briefer provided by the Social Housing Finance Corp. (SHFC), an attached funding government agency of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), during “Bahay Ko, Buhay Ko” First National Housing Summit held at the site on May 27, revealed the AMVACA Housing Cooperative “adopted a community-driven housing strategy in planning for their relocation.”
The agency further stated that the cooperative identified the site where they want to be relocated, chose their land developer, and oversaw the design of the housing buildings.
“They applied for a loan under the High Density Housing (HDH) program of SHFC and it was approved on December 2013,” the briefer said.
The in-city housing project has a price tag of P576 million or equivalent to mere P400,000 per AMVACA cooperative member that will give them a 28-square meter housing unit. The loan is payable at a maximum term of 30 years with an interest of 4.5% per annually.
Parts of their housing project were the construction of commercial areas including wet and dry markets.
The AMVACA cooperative, whose members came from informal settlements along the danger zones of Tullahan River in Valenzuela and the transmission lines of the National Power Corporation, has also been given trainings and technical assistance by Kilos Maralita, a network of civic organizations advocating ISF rights, in order to equip members with knowledge they needed in facilitating their legal resettlement.
This development prompted Congressional Committee on Housing and Urban Development vice chairman and Valenzuela City first district Rep. WIN Gatchalian to say that informal settlers are indeed major stakeholders in solving housing problems especially in Metro Manila. He encouraged addressing shelter backlogs through housing cooperatives after AMVACA members have reaped the benefits of their efforts in Valenzuela City since they were formed in 2012 out of several small groups.
Gatchalian underscored the sustainability of the project, “I think regardless of the model or the system, ang pinakaimportante is sustainability dahil mahabaan ito, na sana hindi mangyari na sa kalagitnaan ng project eh magkaroon ng problema tapos mabuwag yung proyekto.” He said that it is important to have mechanisms to make sure conflicts are resolved and the project is sustainable.
Congressman WIN laid the foundation of Valenzuela City’s flagship Disiplina Village housing project as mayor in 2010. The former chief executive tapped the multi-stakeholder approach in addressing immediate housing needs of almost 900 ISFs affected by Typhoon Ondoy.
Incumbent Mayor REX Gatchalian similarly employed the same framework for Disiplina Village – Bignay, touted as the biggest in-city relocation project in the country at 11 hectares for 3,852 families at a cost of P1.2 billion. The project aims to achieve zero ISFs along danger zones in the city in 2016.
Organizers of the “Bahay Ko, Buhay Ko” First National Housing Summit held at the AMVACA Housing Project site on May 27, gathered key stakeholders in the housing sector – government, the private sector, and the civil society “to collaborate towards effecting immediate interventions to address the housing backlog among the informal and formal sector and identifying key policy reforms to close the gap in affordable housing.”
Leading the summit was “housing czar” Vice President Jejomar Binay who sits as the chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC).
According to Negros Occidental 3rd district Representative and Congressional Committee on Housing and Urban Development chairperson, Alfredo B. Benitez, this summit was designed to undergo “series of discussions for the period of eight months.“
His counterpart at the Upper House, Sen. JV Ejercito, who chairs the Senate Committee on Urban Planning, Housing and Resettlement and Sen. Nancy Binay also attended the affair.