Tuesday, September 10, 2013

UDHA Amendments a Call for Decent Housing

2013 September 10. Urban poor groups from various parts of the metropolis led by Task Force UDHA Amendments joined supportive congress persons in filing a House Bill amending Republic Act No. 7279, the Urban Development and Housing Act (UDHA).

Authors of the proposed House Bill are Representatives Cresente C. Paez and Maria Leonor “Leni” G. Robredo. Co-authors are Representatives Walden Bello, Ibarra M.  Gutierrez III, Kaka J. Bag-ao, Jose Christopher Y. Belmonte and Benjamin D. Asilo.

The title of the proposed bill is: "An act strengthening and securing the rights of the urban poor against evictions and/or demolitions and to provide adequate housing, amending for this purpose Republic Act No. 7279 otherwise known as 'An act to provide for a comprehensive and continuing urban development and housing program, establish the mechanism for its implementation, and for other purposes' or the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992."

This bill aims to further secure the urban poor from eviction and demolition of their homes and from relocating them in distant places lacking basic services and livelihood opportunities, thus clarifying the definition of “resettlement areas” that it must be within and/or near city areas. 

The bill further provides that consultation must be effectively done with the active participation of the affected communities, with the right to offer and counter-offer for relocation sites when reasonable and allowable.  This expands likewise the mandate of the law by requiring developers to develop an area for socialized housing equivalent to at least twenty percent (20%) of the total area or project cost, at the option of the developer, not only on proposed subdivision projects but also on proposed condominiums, memorial parks, golf courses and all other land development projects. 

The bill ensures strengthening the requirements in cases of eviction of informal settlers and demolition of their residential structures and broadening of the penalties on the violation of the Urban Development and Housing Act.

The bill also proposes the creation of the Socialized Housing Commission with quasi-judicial powers and authority with exclusive jurisdiction over all issues arising from the implementation of UDHA Law.
Celia Santos, Urban Poor Associates Advocacy officer said, “We have been pushing for UDHA amendments for the past 10 years, this is by far the largest support we ever had. We are hopeful that this bill will pass in due time. The task force with the legislators have only one goal, decent housing for all.”

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