BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
Rep. Francisco Benitez is pushing for a long term solution to provide resilient and safe housing options for Negros Occidental 3rd district residents, especially the informal settlers.
Benitez, who chairs the House Committee on Housing and Urban Development, launched on Jan. 29 one of his priority advocacies called “ Balay Hilway” that seeks to interface national and local resources and efforts, to finalize and consolidate shelter plans and resettlement action plans of all local government units in the 3rd district.
Benitez met with local chief executives of EB Magalona, Murcia, Victorias, Silay, and Talisay, and representatives from the National Housing Authority, Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development, and the Jolly Homes Foundation in Talisay City, in what appeared to be his first step in addressing the housing problems in the 3rd district.
During the launching of Balay Hilway, Joly Homes Foundation executive director Melissa Navarra introduced the JHF resettlement action plan, and how local government units can be assisted.
Benitez has requested LGUs to submit an updated official master list of families eligible for emergency housing assistance, including an updated damage assessment report on the extent of damage to residential structures.
The meeting between representatives of NHA and DHSUD and concerned LGUs in the district also aimed at fast- tracking emergency assistance for housing for those affected by the recent flash floods.
NHA-Negros Occidental head Alejandro Ongsuco said they can extend P5,000 in immediate assistance to owners of houses either destroyed or damaged during the recent floods that hit the 3rd district.
Ongsuco also presented the Emergency Housing Assistance Program and other NHA programs implemented in the 3rd district, while DHUSD Region 6 director Melchor Calopiz and Eva Maria Marfil of the Public Housing and Settlements Division briefed participants on the Local Shelter Plan and the Local Housing Board. Benitez said that more workshops will follow, with the aim to implement the housing program as soon as possible.*