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Onward to a million homes annually? 

The President seemed serious as he reiterated his administration’s goal to build at least one million housing units annually during his term of office. He made this statement during a groundbreaking event of the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) in Cebu last Feb. 27, 2023.

It was not lost on the President that the housing crisis — a burden of every administration — starts with a 6.5 million backlog in housing units. The DHSUD, led by Secretary Jerry Acuzar, is aware of the task at hand and feels the pressure; but the President is confident in the skills of Acuzar, who was the chair of a major housing developer and builder before being appointed to the post.

The one-million housing goal is a good start in facing this gargantuan crisis. Housing entails the use of so many resources — land, raw materials, utility connections, etc. The DHSUD now has to “balance” its budget, maximizing it to provide the most number of houses, but not to the point of compromising the standards and safety of each unit. After all, what’s the use of a house that would be dilapidated or in a state of disrepair in a few years’ time?

Even though a great deal of resources would be needed and utilized, the benefits of housing are exponential not only to the individual or a family, but more so for the community, and eventually, the country. According to Habitat for Humanity, housing is important because “it affects everything in a person’s life.” “Without a house, things that many people take for granted, like raising a family, securing a job, or making a meal, become almost impossible.”

“Homelessness and poverty lead to increased rates of family and domestic violence, depression, health issues, food insecurity, child abuse and neglect. All the issues associated with poverty are inextricably linked to housing,” the group explained.

Permanent housing, it said, can “relieve economic stress and reduce rates of domestic violence and alcohol dependence. For children, a house means avoiding lifelong poverty. Access to housing means a better chance to obtain necessities like food, clothing, medicine, and sanitation. The stability of a house gives those in poverty the opportunity to build a decent life for themselves.”

In short, “housing is not just a roof over the head, but a solid foundation for the future.”

To give credit to the President, he has called on multiple times the need to urgently address the housing crisis. For him, to solve poverty and a lot of social ills, one of its root causes must be tackled first, which is the lack of housing. With the lack of decent housing, this pushes the number of informal settlements — not the most ideal of places to thrive in, especially for the youth, growing families, or the elderly.

In that Cebu event, the President noted that the houses that will be built for the poor will also be disaster-resilient, affordable, and near livelihood spots, schools, health centers, and other establishments. He said the government will also build other infrastructure in the area in order to sustain the community.

The one-million goal is commendable and deserves our support as taxpayers. Naysayers, however, may say that this is a lofty ambition, or maybe an illusion considering the difficulty of just building a few thousand housing units. Now, we have to wait and see if the DHSUD delivers on its promise, and makes this goal a reality and not a fantasy.

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