One of the lesser-known government agencies doing good work this year has been the National Housing Authority (NHA). You may have heard about them during the government’s Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa Program (BP2). But the role of NHA in 2020 goes beyond that. They’ve played a huge part in improving the lives of Filipinos, and need all the support they can get.
The BP2 is a much needed initiative for the country moving forward, as long as it’s implemented properly. Integral to this is the role of NHA. They are the agency that’ll ensure that people who decide to go home to their provinces will have the proper infrastructure to actually live a comfortable life.
Aside from this, the country is known to be a hotspot of natural disasters. Filipino homes are being wrecked by storms constantly, and not all of us have the means to keep on rebuilding. That’s where the NHA comes in.
What is the NHA?
The history page of their website explains that the NHA is “the sole national agency mandated to engage in housing production for low income families.” They are a government-owned and controlled corporation, and is a consolidation of different entities throughout the years that have been trying to solve the issue of housing in the Philippines.
The best way to sum up the agency is through its vision, essentially summing up what they want to be as an organization: “A viable organization that leads in the provision of comprehensive and well-planned human settlement for the homeless, marginalized, and low-income families, thereby improving their quality of life.”
The NHA in 2020 has lived up to this mandate. They have continued in their focus of improving quality of life for the poorest of the poor, by providing housing options. Understandably, they’re not really that “popular” in mainstream media. It’s one of those agencies that you don’t really pay attention to, unless you need them.
Creating Opportunities Through the BP2
The NHA in 2020 is most associated with the BP2, because of their role in providing better living conditions for our kababayans in their home provinces.
Not to be confused with the Hatid Probinsya initiative, the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa Program is more of a long term solution. It addresses not just the congestion problem in Metro Manila. In addition, it also tackles the plight of informal settlers who bear the horrible conditions in the city. All of these they endure, because of the lack of opportunities back home.
Balik Probinsya was actually suspended earlier in the year, and is still suspended now despite its overwhelming popularity. Understandable, as there is still the looming threat of COVID-19. However, the groundwork for the program is continuously being laid, with BP2 Executive Director and NHA General Manager Marcelino “Jun” Escalada, Jr. at the helm.
In fact, it was just last month that the pilot village for the BP2 was launched in Lanao Del Norte. It’s one of the five pilot provinces in which the program has been introduced. These pilot provinces are the “proof of concept” for the BP2. They show the potential of the program, and what its beneficiaries should expect when they return home.
It’s not just houses that they’re building, but a self-sufficient community as well. Beneficiaries will be given actual opportunities back home that they can engage in, like crop and livestock processing. This is on top of the cash incentives that initially motivate beneficiaries.
Housing Issues due to Natural Disasters
Housing is a very relevant issue not just because of the BP2, but due to the prevalence of natural calamities in the country. The barrage of natural disasters we face every year affects thousands of Filipino homes.
The NHA in 2020 endured a rough start. Even before the pandemic, they had to deal with the displaced residents due to the Taal Volcano eruption in January. Despite having no budget allocated to them for 2020 and 2021, NHA GM Escalada actually revealed in a budget hearing last October that they have already allocated 10,000 available housing units for displaced residents.
As we know, Taal wasn’t the only natural disaster in 2020. The NHA has actually been on top of housing requirements due to the damages from Typhoons Rolly and Ulysses, where they estimate that at least ₱2.2B is needed for housing cash assistance for our countrymen whose homes were damaged or destroyed.
The NHA’s role with natural disasters is actually understated. Take for example Typhoon Yoldanda, one of the worst disasters to ever hit the country. The NHA completed over 89,491 housing units for Region 6, with over 1,300 turned over just last December. That’s seven years of work just to restore homes lost to the tragedy. Thousands of families now have the chance to live normal lives again.
An Understated Partner for a #BetterPhilippines
Despite having their work cut out for them in 2020, the agency even released a two-month suspension of amortization from residential account holders. Escalada said that they pushed for this to help ease the impact of the pandemic for its member beneficiaries. It will be automatically processed for everyone, and all interest charges and penalties will be waived. This is two months for thousands of Filipinos where they don’t have to think about paying for their homes.
“Sa lahat ng aming mga beneficiaries of the NHA, we hope that we have helped you in terms of alleviating your present condition. So we join you in this season, we join you in this pandemic, we join you in our quest for a fair but quality housing for everyone,” said Escalada in a video released on the NHA page.
The NHA is our partner in ensuring that our fellow countrymen have access to a very basic human right – the right to a home. Thank you to GM Escalada and the rest of the NHA! We look forward to all the good you will continue to do for a #BetterPhilippines!