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Low-cost housing industry grapples with issues of affordability, efficiency

PHILIPPINE STAR/ BOY SANTOS

THE bottom line in providing low-cost housing is affordability, with Habitat for Humanity Philippines citing the wide gap between the pricing of affordable units and what the typical buyer can afford.

“The national and local governments, private, non-governmental organizations and contractors (must collaborate)” to produce an outcome where, “instead of one family covering the P855,000 for the house and a lot… it could just be P250,000,” Mardi Mapa-Suplido, chief executive officer of Habitat for Humanity Philippines, said at an industry forum on Monday. The key to true affordability, she added, is “knowing (the buyer’s) income.”

Ms. Mapa-Suplido was among the presenters at a conference for the “sheltertech,” industry, in which participants were exploring ways to make housing “vibrant and investible,” according to the conference’s organizers. 

Marcelino C. Mendoza, president and chairman of the Organization of Socialized and Economic Housing Developers of the Philippines, Inc., said one other approach to chip away at costs in low-cost housing is to ensure the process of building and buying houses is made more efficient via digitalization. 

“Digitalization in the Philippines is still at a very low level. There’s a lot more upside and what is important is it could benefit the homeowners through efficiency and more cash for them,” Mr. Mendoza said.

Roberto Batungbacal, the Dow Chemical Co. Philippines country manager, said one other way to make housing more efficient is to recycling waste to produce building materials.

“Apart from addressing pollution in the environment, it will enable us to (add to the) domestic supply of construction materials,” Mr. Batungbacal said.

He cited Green Antz Builders as an example of a company that recycles waste into construction materials. — Justine Irish D. Tabile

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