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NHA taps local gov’ts to build shelters for ‘Yolanda’ survivors

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Housing units in a resettlement site in Hernani town in Eastern Samar remain unfinished as the fourth anniversary of the onslaught of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” nears. —JOEY A. GABIETA

TACLOBAN CITY—The National Housing Authority (NHA) has allowed local governments to build houses for survivors of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) to address the unmet shelter needs of families who lost their homes to the catastrophe four years ago.

But Rizalde Mediavillo, NHA regional manager for Eastern Visayas, said only the town of Maydolong in Eastern Samar had so far signified desire to construct the housing units.

Maydolong Mayor Henry Afable said his town, one of the hardest-hit areas by Yolanda when it pummeled Eastern Visayas in November 2013, would need at least 139 units to house the survivors.

He said the local government would immediately draft the letter of intent to start its housing project.

House inquiry

Mediavillo said if local governments would be allowed to build the houses by themselves, the NHA expected the construction to be finished before the elections in 2019.

The slow construction of houses intended for families who lost their homes to the onslaught of Yolanda was tackled in a Sept. 1 inquiry by the House committee on housing and urban development here.

Of the 205,125 housing units the NHA was supposed to build in areas hit by Yolanda, only 48,950 units were finished, of which only 13,997 were occupied.

Eastern Visayas, which bore the brunt of one of the world’s strongest typhoons, needs 56,140 housing units. Only more than 12,000 of this target had been completed.

Of the 14,433 housing units targeted to be built in Tacloban City, considered ground zero of Yolanda, only 9,801 were completed.

Mediavillo said among the reasons for the delay were lack of land titles in areas identified as resettlement sites; refusal of contractors to take on housing projects in Yolanda-hit areas; and, in the case of Maydolong, the absence of a contractor willing to handle the project that had been considered “small.”

At P290,000 per unit, the 139 proposed housing units in Maydolong, for instance, will cost only P40.3 million.

The congressional inquiry revealed that winning bidders, who were mostly Luzon-based contractors, had subcontracted the actual construction of the housing units to local firms.

This arrangement did not only result in the delay of construction but also affected the quality of the housing units, said Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone, a member of the committee.

Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano, another committee member, said the Commission on Audit should check the NHA’s housing projects.

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