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NEGROS OCCIDENTAL LAUNCHES ‘BALAY HILWAY’ PROGRAM

Following the massive floods in northern Negros Occidental in early January, a long-term resilient and safe housing plan for both flood-hit and informal settler families in the third district was launched.

Dubbed the “Balay Hilway,” the program was initiated by Rep. Jose Francisco Benitez who presented his ideas during the 1st Metro 3rd Coordination Meeting on Housing to local chief executives and other stakeholders, held at Nature’s Village Resort in Talisay City.

“We also seek to interface national and local resources and efforts to finalize and consolidate shelter plans and resettlement action plans of all LGUs.”

“(We want) to fast-track emergency housing assistance for those affected by the recent flash floods. We (also) seek to interface national and local resources and efforts to finalize and consolidate shelter plans and resettlement action plans of all local government units (LGUs),” Benitez, chair of the House of Representatives committee on housing and urban development said.

The third district, particularly the cities of Talisay, Silay, Victorias, and EB Magalona town, was the worst-hit during the flash floods on January 1 and 8, prompting all four LGUs to declare a state of calamity.

Some 38,000 families were displaced and more than 1,000 houses were damaged on January 8 and 9 alone.

Murcia town, just east of Bacolod, is also part of the third district but was spared.

During the meeting, officials from the National Housing Authority (NHA), the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD), and the Joly Homes Foundation presented various programs addressing housing issues and concerns.

Alejandro Ongsuco, district manager of NHA-Negros Occidental, discussed the agency’s Emergency Housing Assistance Program and similar programs being implemented in the 3rd District while DHSUD 6 (Western Visayas) Director Melchor Calopiz and Eva Maria Marfil of the Public Housing and Settlements Division gave a briefing on the local shelter plan and the local housing board.

Joly Homes Foundation executive director Melissa Navarra introduced their resettlement action plan and discussed how they could assist LGUs.

“LGUs were also asked to submit an updated official master list of families eligible for emergency housing assistance.”

The legislator said the LGUs were also asked to submit an updated official master list of families eligible for emergency housing assistance, along with the damage assessment report.

“The conference will be followed by more workshops so that plans and programs can be implemented the soonest,” the lawmaker added.

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