The homeowners’ association (HOA) and Workers in Struggle for Employment Empowerment and Emancipation (WISE3) chapter of Building H in Camarin Residences 1, Caloocan City hailed the outcome of their dialogue with the National Housing Authority (NHA) last September 4 as the NHA and the local government unit (LGU) caved in their demand to lower the monthly maintenance charges from P425 to P146.
“Because of our persistence and strong demands to the government, the NHA and the Local Government of the City of Caloocan was forced to take actions. The NHA called for a general assembly of all the homeowners in Camarin Residences 1 and promised to lower the monthly maintenance fee by as much as 65 percent,” Eufemia “Mimi” Doringo, officer of the HOA and WISE3 said in an interview in Ganito Ngayon, a weekly radio program in DWSS.
The residents and members of the HOA and WISE3 in Camarin Residences in Caloocan City are relocatees who used to reside in areas deemed as “danger zones” in Valenzuela City and Caloocan City.
Around 110 families have been relocated to one of the 10 mid-rise buildings in the residential realty compound, Camarin Residences, starting 2014. While the local government says that an in-city relocation is “better” than other relocation sites which are farther from the Metro, relocatees have been complaining about costly monthly charges which are “impossible” for them to afford.
Compared to other relocation sites where monthly amortization is only P200, relocatees in the Camarin residences have to pay between P600 to P1,000 monthy amortization for a studio-type unit with an approximate area of 30 m2. Expenses for utilities like electricity and water are also higher by as much as 300 percent as there is yet to be direct line from utility distributors.
The group said that it is really impossible for them to afford all these expenses especially that most of the relocatees are contractual or informal workers, if not unemployed. A recent survey of their members’ income revealed that majority (63.6 percent) of those employed earn below minimum wage rates. The minimum wage of P481 is only 44 percent of the P1,082 family living wage based on the estimate by research group, Ibon Foundation.
Doringo further narrated that on September 10, the Congress’ Joint Committee on Housing headed by Sen. JV Ejercito, Cong. Alfred Benitez of Negros Occidental, and Atty. Jopet Sison, head of the said joint committee, held a forum where the different agencies, laid out the following proposals:
- Immediate provision of assistance from the government funds at the time of relocation of families
- Government subsidy to water and electricity expenses or provision of solar panels
- Creation of livelihood opportunities to increase the community’s income. Livelihood projects should not be limited to skills training but must also come with material and financial support.
The group said they remain hopeful and vigilant that their demands for a more livable community will be achieved through their continuous engagement and collective actions.###