GOVERNMENT HOUSING VENTURE IN CATBALOGAN GAINS MOMENTUM

The Resettlement Housing Project being undertaken by the City Government of Catbalogan and the National Housing Authority (NHA) is currently in its final stages with the groundbreaking ceremony tentatively set for August this year.
City Mayor Stephany Uy-Tan recently signed the development plan for the intended site in Brgy. Lagundi before representatives from the NHA – Regional Office VIII, who were at the City Hall to pay a courtesy and bring important documents that would fast track preparations for the resettlement project.

The team from NHA has also advised the lady mayor to seek the endorsement of the City Council as a legal measure needed with the change of officials after the election.

In response to this, the City Council passed a resolution in their session last July 17, 2013 to reaffirm all its previous resolutions meant to aid the City Government in complying with project requirements in the soonest time possible.

Coordination with various offices to ensure that the site can accommodate necessary facilities such as electricity and water supply have already been complied with early this year. Clearances from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Philippine Volcanology and Seismology (PHILVOCS), verify the absence of fault lines were also issued during this time.

Situated near the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, the resettlement area is poised to accommodate 300 urban poor and informal settler families.

Consequently, housing and resettlement in Catbalogan is not just a matter of poverty reduction, but a matter of disaster management as well since a number of families currently living in areas considered to be danger zones will also be relocated in this area. This angle was brought to light in 2011 when two landslides in Brgy. Guinsorongan posed a threat to the residents.

The data with the City Planning and Development Coordinating Office showed that as of March 2012, there are at least 5,989 urban poor families and 6,496 informal settler families in Catbalogan City with a large concentration of them residing in the barangays of Canlapwas and Mercedes.

The rough conditions being experienced by these families due to limited resources and poor facilities make them susceptible to both natural and man made threats, be it in the form of crimes, diseases or natural calamities.

The City Government’s housing initiatives are therefore deemed as an act of hitting many birds with one stone as it gives beneficiaries an opportunity at land tenure through affordable means.

Minus the threat of eviction and financial burden that the cost of housing usually brings to a family, beneficiaries are given more leeway to improve their situation in a permanent, safe and secure environment chosen by the City Government.

Inter-agency partnerships, such as the one entered into with the NHA, are seen as a win-win situation when it comes to uplifting the plight of the urban poor sector through provision of affordable housing.

The NHA has presented the City Government with another opportunity to submit a new project to be included in the said agency’s budget for next year. The City Planning and Development Coordinating Office headed by Engr. Arnaldo Aroza is still in the process of identifying potential sites for this purpose.

(Article by Ms. Lai Minh Mabulay, Office of the City Mayor; Photos courtesy of Mr. Michael Balan)

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