ROOF, LIVELIHOOD FOR THE POOREST
By the DAILY TRIBUNE
The Social Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC) could be considered obscure to many, but the youngest government agency caters to the housing needs of both formal and informal settlers facing ejection or demolition of their abodes.
Fifteen years since its formation, the SHFC provides not only individual shelters to displaced families but communities as well, complete with livelihood programs for their sustainability.
While still a fledgling in the housing industry and small in size, the SHFC has already made its impact by providing not only affordable homes but sustainable and resilient communities.
During the “Straight Talk with Daily Tribune”, on Tuesday, October 15, SHFC president Atty. Arnolfo Ricardo Cabling emphasized that SHFC is mandated not only to provide affordable houses to those belonging to the low-income bracket, but to build progressive communities, too.
From its creation by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, SHFC has already built 2,723 communities throughout the country –mostly occupied by the displaced poorest of the poor, who lost their houses either through eviction or relocation.
The SHFC has provided security of tenure to 311,914 informal settler families (ISF) in various parts of the country.
“The mandate of social housing is to provide shelter provision at the lowest possible interest rate for both formal and informal sectors belonging to the lowest income bracket of the society,” Cabling explained.
“We started with providing security of tenure to on-site communities, formal communities occupying private or government lands facing threats of demolition, or they are about to be removed or ejected from the property,” he added.
The SHFC’s flagship housing initiative is aptly called Community Mortgage Program (CMP), anchored on the unique Filipino tradition of “Bayanihan.”
“It’s community-based, it’s a community effort. That’s the way to lower down the cost. Why? We tap the members of the community to help – from the local government up to the barangay level,” Cabling explained.
“Even the ordinary people, we do ‘bayanihan’ in constructing canals, drainage. That’s the way we could reduce the cost,” he added.
Under the program, Cabling said that the beneficiaries are involved from the planning, choosing the areas of relocation, up to the actual design of their homes based on the community’s capability to pay.
“We empower the people and teach them how to negotiate so that they can haggle with the land owners. And then, they borrow money from us to pay the land owners, payable in 25 years with six percent annual interest rate based on diminishing balance,” Cabling added.
“It’s a partnership, it’s people-planned program. We work together –from site preferences to the design,” he said.
While short in personnel of only about 200 scattered nationwide, Cabling said SHFC deploys representatives to help organize communities facing ejectment or demolition.
“That is our mandate, we organize communities so that they can avail (of government’s housing program),” said Cabling.
Under the CMP, beneficiaries apply as one community and not as individuals, unlike in other housing agencies where individual members could avail.
The concept, Cabling said, contribute to the high rate of occupancy of SHFC projects.
“With this, we maintain the sense of neighborhood. There is less adjustment when they relocate to other areas, so the occupancy rate, while it is not perfect, it’s good,” Cabling said.
“And we don’t just build communities, we build sustainable and resilient communities –meaning we have livelihood components,” he added.
Cabling cited the community SHFC set up in Palawan where the beneficiaries were provided with income opportunity in the cashew industry.
The SHFC president, however, noted the challenges in pursuing their projects –from documentary to opposition by some local government units (LGU) to host the relocated communities.
“Every project is a struggle, but at the end of the day, every project is a success story after its completion,” said Cabling, who served as Davao City councilor under President Rodrigo Duterte and daughter and incumbent Mayor Sara Duterte.
As of December 2018, SHFC has already granted P14.81 billion loan assistance with a collection efficiency rate of 74.31 percent. So far, the corporation has established partnership with 56 LGU throughout the country.