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CREBA lobbies for affordable homes

The country’s largest organization of real estate industry players recently urged its members to seek the support of their respective legislators for a bill that will provide affordable homes to employees closer to their places of work.

The bill, proposed by the Chamber of Real Estate and Builders’ Associations (CREBA), seeks to lessen the daily commute of employees living in the suburbs and ease traffic congestion, while mazimizing land use, manpower productivity and  business efficiency.

This bill is part of a 5-point agenda that CREBA approved in Iloilo last year to help address the country’s 5.5-million housing backlog. The final form will be presented at CREBA’s grand national convention in Bacolod City on Oct. 7-10.

Wasting hours in traffic. The other four points of the CREBA agenda include long term funds for socialized housing; lands for residential, commercial and industrial development; efficient local government regulations; and a full-fledged housing and urban development department. JANSEN ROMERO

The bill, according to CREBA national chairman Charlie A.V. Gorayeb, was crafted to make the current housing laws work by ridding the Urban Development and Housing Act (Republic Act 7279) of the stumbling blocks to socialized housing production.

“Section 18 of RA 7279, which sets forth the balanced housing program, mandates developers of subdivisions to build socialized housing equivalent to 20% of their total project area or cost,” Gorayeb said.  “But this law does not include owners and developers of condominium projects, thus measures have been filed in both houses of Congress to include them.  Also, the 20% quota is not realistic to elicit compliance from subdivision and condominium developers.  Reducing this quota to 15% for subdivisions, and 5% for condominiums, will make it feasible.”

CREBA national president Noel Toti M. Carino said any other mode of compliance with this quota must add to the socialized and economic housing stock to help reduce the 5.5-million backlog.

“Modes of compliance with the quota include development of new settlements, joint-venture initiatives between a real estate developer and either the local government units, any of the key shelter agencies, or another developer; and development of socialized medium-rise condominium buildings,” Carino said. “Any alternative compliance not yielding any new housing unit should not be encouraged.”

CREBA likewise proposed a new socialized housing package for urban medium-rise buildings or condominiums with a minimum floor area of 40 sqm per unit to qualify them for tax incentives under the current law, but with price ceilings to be determined solely by the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council. These  price ceilings will be updated every five years in consultation with the National Economic Development Authority.

“Constructing vertical communities will stir up the economy while creating opportunities from the scarce and rising cost of urban lands – which remain to be the center of business activities, employment, and livelihood,” Gorayeb said.

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