CDO needs P26 billion, 350,000 hectares of land to house informal settlers

Bobby Lagsa
CDO needs P26 billion, 350,000 hectares of land to house informal settlers
On record, Cagayan de Oro has 51,471 families of informal settlers

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – The city government is working on overdrive to address the issues of urban mass housing as the City Housing and Urban Development Department (CHUDD) presented data that showed there are more than 51,000 Informal Settler Families (ISF) here.

ISFs are households living in hazardous areas such as rivers, creeks, landslide-prone areas, no build zones, as well as, those affected by government infrastructure projects, facing order for demolition or eviction.

CHUDD presented the information during the city’s Local Shelter Plan Summit of the presence of 51,437 ISFs in Cagayan de Oro.

In 2015, there were only 34,898 ISF recorded. The 71% growth in just 3 years is taking its toll on the city government. 

This means, the city has a total housing backlog of 79,073 in the next 10 years.

According to Ermin Stan Pimentel, head of CHUDD, the city will need at least P28.5 billion and a total land area of 350,000 hectares to provide for housing for ISFs. 

In 2010, Cagayan de Oro’s population was 602,088. In 2015, the city population climbed to 675,950. With a 2.2% population growth, CHUDD foresees CDO will double its population in 31 years.

As the population grow, so does the ISF.

Mayor Oscar Moreno attributed the growth of ISF to urban migration, economic opportunities and the expanding population. “Some of those surveyed years back, their children are now married and have become ISFs too,” Moreno said.

Moreno said that in order to provide decent shelters to the ISF, the city government started a program for land use and acquisition for resettlement.

The city government had identified 6 development areas. These are: Eastern Urban (Barangay Bugo, Balubal), Eastern Uptown (Barangay Indahag), downtown (Poblacion), West Uptown (Lumbia) and Western Urban (Bulua and Iponan).

“Resettlement is one of the primary considerations for the development of these areas,” Pimentel said.

Since 2012, after the onslaught of Typhoon Sendong, the city government, working with the national government, non-governmental organizations and private, corporate donors constructed 8,022 houses in Distict 1 and 12,205 houses in district 2.

Moreno was quick to point out that most of the houses constructed and donated to the survivors of Sendong were distributed for free.  The new housing project will have to be paid by beneficiaries through different government housing programs.

The city government is partnering with the Socialized Housing Finance Corporation, Pagibig, NHA and HUDCC,NHFC, HLURB, Home Guaranty Corporation, Landbank and DBP to provide financing as the city alone cannot afford the housing cost.

Moreno said that the city government could have created more houses in 2013 had it not been obstructed by former city councilors allied with former city mayor.

Some P55 million were returned to the national treasury as the city government failed to acquire a land for the construction of houses the amount intended to.

It also failed to capitalize on the donation of P170 million from the Japanese government providing construction materials for 1,200 houses as the city has no land available.

“We are working to recapture that P55 million and the materials,” Moreno said.

The city is also waiting for the approval of P250 million budget for landbanking program of the city which will be used for resettlement.

Moreno added that he also understands the resistance of some rights organizations and ISFs to move to dignified houses in rural and suburban areas of the city and demanding for an onsite relocation.

“We must understand their situation and why they want onsite relocation,” Moreno said.

Moreno added that onsite relocation presented several problems, foremost is the amount needed to construct high rise buildings and the number of ISF to be accommodated in a very tight land area.

“That is why I don’t allow opening new resettlement areas without the basic necessities such as concrete roads, sewerage, water and power,” Moreno said.

Moreno also added that ISFs also prevent landowners from enjoying their properties as ISFs already occupy the land.

“The city government cannot collect real property tax because the landowner cannot use their land, it cannot also collect taxes from ISF since it’s not their property,” Moreno said.

Moreno also added that the opportunities for the land to be use for commercial purposes is also immense and business create jobs.

Earlier Moreno said that new uban development areas declog the city proper and create growth areas. – Rappler.com

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