MASS HOUSING groups urged the government to prioritize the establishment of one-stop processing centers in each region to facilitate the hasten the process of securing permits for housing projects.

In a joint statement, the Organization of Socialized and Economic Housing Developers of the Philippines (OSHDP) and Socialized Housing Alliance Roundtable Endeavor (SHARE) said that these centers must be prioritized by the newly created Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD).

The creation of one-stop centers is included in Section 23 of the Republic Act No. 11201, the same law that created the DHSUD.

The Center for Housing and Independent Research Synergies in a research study reported that housing developers currently have to go through 27 offices to secure 78 permits and 146 signatures, for a total of 373 documents.

The permits are issued by different authorities, including the local government unit, the Department of Agriculture, Department of Agrarian Reform, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Bureau of Internal Revenue, and Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB), among others.

“The precipitous decline of License to Sell issued across all types of housing projects is due to numerous permits and licenses, and new rules and regulations increasingly being required by government agencies, threatening the sustainability and momentum of housing starts in the country,” OSHDP President Jefferson Bongat was quoted as saying in a statement.

An accomplishment report by the HLURB also revealed a 25.57% decline in housing projects in 2018 to 579 project offering 204,344 units, against 2017’s 742 projects with 274,545 units.

“Non-Government Organizations and small housing developers are most affected in their delivery of housing production as they operate with very thin margins and cannot afford these soft costs associated with long project cycles and resulting cost overruns,” SHARE President Marcelino Mendoza said in a statement.

The groups also called on the Department of Budget and Management to set aside funds for the one-stop processing centers, since they are currently excluded from the National Appropriations Budget.

These calls are part of housing developers’ efforts to meet the six-million housing backlog in the country. — Arra B. Francia