Lapid

Free housing under ‘usufruct’ program filed in Senate

September 7, 2022 PS Jun M. Sarmiento 418 views

ALARMED on the reports of “awarding of a housing project and selling it later for profit style”, Senator Manuel “Lito” Lapid reiterated the need to address homelessness by pushing for the passage of Senate Bill (SB) No. 1232, otherwise known as the “Free Housing Through Usufruct Act of 2022”, which he emphasized will provide underprivileged and homeless Filipinos access to safe, decent, and affordable housing through a “usufruct”.

“Marami na tayong mga naging government housing programs pero ang mga pabahay na ito ay kadalasang tumatakbo sa ilalim ng prinsipyo ng pagbebenta ng mga pabahay sa mga benepisyaryo sa abot-kayang presyo na babayaran nila sa paglipas ng panahon. Gayunpaman, sa maraming pagkakataon, ibinebenta ng mga benepisyaryo ang mga pabahay na iginawad sa kanila upang pagkakitaan sa halip na gamitin ang mga ito para sa kanilang mga pamilya. Taliwas ito sa layunin ng mga programa natin sa pabahay na nais bigyang tahanan ang bawat pamilyang Pilipino,” Lapid lamented.

Under SB No. 1232, Lapid emphasized that a usufruct housing program shall be created to allow beneficiaries free use of the property as a usufructuary, where the State retains the ownership and title of the said property.

According to the proposed measure, a usufruct arrangement allows the government to retain naked ownership over the units and keep the same for housing purposes and away from the real estate market, addressing decade-long concerns of beneficiaries selling their awarded housing units for profit.

In his explanatory note, the senator from Pampanga said that since the early 1990s, various housing finance programs have offered long-term and low-interest rate loans to indigent Filipinos, but “unfortunately failed” due to mortgage defaults and poor collection efforts, among others.

“Even with the existence of low-cost housing, which should be inexpensive, the same cannot still be afforded by the intended beneficiaries,” Lapid added.

“Noon pa man, kahit na mayroong nang mga murang pabahay ang gobyerno, kadalasan ay hindi pa rin ito kayang bayaran ng mga benepisyaryo. Kaya ito pong ating isinusulong na panukalang batas ay layunin nang makapagbigay ng libreng pabahay sa mga mga kapus-palad at mga pamilyang Pilipinong walang tirahan, na walang anumang lupang pagmamay-ari saanman sa bansa, sa pamamagitan ng usufruct,” the senator said.

In filing SB No. 1232, Lapid emphasized that only underprivileged and homeless Filipinos without known ownership of any real property anywhere in the country may be beneficiaries of the free housing usufruct program. However, LGUs (local government units) and other government agencies may extend the benefit to qualified personnel as part of their employee housing program.

Lapid further explained that under his proposed measure, charges for utilities such as electricity, water, and communication should be paid by the beneficiaries unless otherwise provided for by the LGU as included in the usufruct contract.

He also noted that the NHA (National Housing Authority) shall provide financial and technical assistance to the LGUs in implementing the program. Regardless of the ownership of title to the property subject of the program, the LGU where the housing project is located shall be responsible for managing and maintaining the properties subject to the program.

According to Lapid, beneficiaries may enjoy the use of the property for residential purposes only until disqualified or until the same commits any of the prohibited acts provided for in his proposed measure, which includes, but is not limited to, leasing, renting, selling or in any other matter transferring possession of the awarded property.