Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Housing Loans for the working poor in the Philippines

Even as more and more of the Filipino working poor struggle to keep body and soul together, millions still dream and hope that one day they would be able to own their own homes.

The Philippine government, since the Marcos Regime, had embarked upon various ways of addressing homelessness in the country.

It had actually given way to the creation of the Ministry of Human Settlements which through various laws had given rise to numerous government housing programs and of course, the creation of what is called (in Philippine bureaucratese) the Key Government Shelter Agencies which are monitored and coordinated through the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council

The accomplishments of four successive Presidents in the area of providing access to affordable and decent housing for low income earners pale in comparison to the housing needs that it aims to addressed.

There are simply too many poor people to be sheltered, at least in Metro Manila.

As is often the case, especially with informal settler communities that have virtually choked the easements on either side of the Philippine National Railway (an area which crosses Mega Manila – Metro Manila plus Laguna and Bulacan), politicians (from the lowly baranggay captain up to the congressmen and mayors) have a ready speech every time they campaign in informal settler communities.

And this speech has been delivered so many times and by so many people that slum dwellers have practically memorized it. For their votes, city politicians promise to find ways of “resolving” the ownership of the lands they are squatting on in their favor.

This is short of saying, give me your vote and I will give you government land.

What’s more is that the law authored by former Senator Joey Lina had actually made it extremely costly for land owners to evict squatters because it places on them the burden of relocating squatters and providing them with shelter.

There are some who suspect that this arrangement may have even given rise to an eviction industry whereby for a fee, entire informal settler communities would be razed to the ground and a few days later, the land owners could come in and erect walls around the property.

In any case, homelessness is something the Arroyo Government and previous Presidential administrations has promised to address through socialized housing projects and affordable government home loan programs.

In this area, you have the National Housing Authority and the National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation working together through several programs, the most visible of is the Community Mortgage Program or CMP. Under this program, organized groups of informal settlers are provided a community loan which is used to acquire the land they are squatting on either at fair market value (which is extremely low) or at a negotiated price (which means ‘hiring’ a number of ‘consultants’ to ensure that one gets top price for the property being sold).

Others, those of the Filipino population who actually earn enough money to qualify for housing loans can avail them through Pag-IBIG Fund or Home Mutual Development Fund, SSS housing loan program, or GSIS Housing Loan program.

Private or commercial banks offer housing loans but at a higher price and interest rates change from year to year depending on a number of factors.

Some banks actually offer housing loan applications on-line and if you are interested, you can try:

  • Union Bank on line housing loan application
  • Bank of the Philippine Islands
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