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House body approves rental subsidy for ISFs

THE House committee on housing and urban development chaired by Cavite Rep. Strike Revilla has approved a substitute bill providing for a rental subsidy program for squatter or informal settlement families (ISFs) in urban and rural areas in the country.

The bill is a consolidation of several measures, including one authored by Deputy Speaker and Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez.

Rodriguez said the Constitution mandates that the state “shall, by law and for the common good, undertake…a continuing program of urban land reform and housing, which will make available at affordable cost decent housing and basic services to underprivileged and homeless citizens in urban centers and resettlement areas.”

“Unfortunately, this provision of the Constitution has not been implemented properly with data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showing that there are around 4.5 million homeless people in our country, three million of whom are in Metro Manila,” he said.

He said the bill aims to provide financial assistance to the homeless while waiting for government-built permanent housing.

“The aid would help them have decent living conditions,” he added.

The bill defines ISFs as “households living in a lot, private or public, without the consent of the property owner; or those without legal claim to the property they are occupying; or those living in danger areas such as esteros, railroad tracks, garbage dumps, riverbanks, shorelines, and waterways…”

The proposed law provides for a rental subsidy of P3,500 monthly for qualified ISFs in Metro Manila.

For those in the provinces, the monthly amount of financial aid would be set by the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) and the National Economic and Development Authority, taking into consideration regional wages but not to exceed P3,500.

The assistance would be paid by the DHSUD on the basis of a list of qualified beneficiaries to be determined by the National Housing Authority.

The aid would continue to be given until the beneficiaries transfer to a permanent housing project.

Funds for the program would be charged initially against appropriations for the DHSUD. Thereafter, the needed funding would be included in the annual national budget.

The DHSUD, in coordination with relevant government agencies, would issue implementing rules and regulations.