Half of Bacolod residents are 'squatters' - housing exec
Data from the Bacolod Housing Authority (BHA) described, "squatting" as a big and serious problem for Bacolod City even as the city plans to buy 30 to 60 hectares of land for relocation and housing facilities.
BHA Director Josephine Segundino admitted that the number of "squatters" could have soared by now as the 39,921 households considered as 'squatters' was as of 1997.
"If we consider the 1.38 percent annual population growth rate of the city and the pattern and rate of migration from rural areas to Bacolod, the current number of "squatters" in the city may have already reached 60 to 65 percent of the city's present population of 499,497," she added.
Segundino said the 30 to 60 hectares of land the city plans to purchase could at least accommodate the existing 1,000 plus "squatters" with pending court cases or those likely to be ejected from their present dwellings. Around 200 more are also in the waitlist.
She also said the relocation sites in Barangay Handumanan, Fortune town in Barangay Estefania and in Vista Alegre in Barangay Granada are already filled up and any move to allow relocatees to the sites might only cause more troubles for the city and the relocatees.
"The squatter problem is enormous considering the continuous and increasing rate of rural-urban migration and the growth of extended families among the city's households," Segundino added.
She said Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia recently approved a P2-million funding to survey the rate of poverty incidence in the city, which she added, is also a way to update BHA's data on the number of "squatters" and those who could be covered by the city's socialized housing program.
Segundino also said the city cannot yet determine how much is needed for the purchase of 30 to 60 hectares of lands. "The prevailing rate in the city is P200 to P250 per square meter, though in some areas the rate could be much higher."
She said the city appraisal committee would also help in the evaluation of lands to be purchased by the city.
In a related development, Leonardia announced Thursday that the Bacolod City Task Force on land banking has started accepting offers from landowners.
He said any interested landowner can submit their letter of intent to sell, description of the area suitable for housing, copy of land title, vicinity map and other related documents.
Deadline for submission of offers is on or before May 6, 2008, via the office of the BHA, Leonardia said. - Sun.Star