FINALIST. Iloilo City’s urban housing development is among the five finalists in the 2021-2022 World Resources Institute Ross Center Prize for Cities chosen from among the 260 applications from 155 cities in 65 countries. The grand winner will be announced in December 2022. (Photo courtesy of Sonia Cadornigara)

ILOILO CITY – Iloilo City’s participatory approach to addressing issues on urban housing is among the five finalists in the 2021-2022 World Resources Institute (WRI) Ross Center Prize for Cities from among the 260 applications from 155 cities in 65 countries.

Iloilo City joined four other finalists from India, France, Colombia, and Pakistan, which were announced virtually during the World Urban Forum in Katowice, Poland on the evening of June 29 in the Philippines.

The “Participatory Housing and Urban Development in Iloilo City” showcases the collaboration of urban poor communities under the Iloilo City Urban Poor Network and the city government to respond to issues of informal settlers that “scaled up citywide”, regional coordinator of the Homeless People's Federation Philippines, Inc. (HPFPI) - Western Visayas, Sonia Cadornigara, said in an interview on Friday.

“We are (a) partner of the city government in all development process(es), particularly affecting homeless people and those in need of basic services, including their livelihood component,” Cadornigara said.

The network is composed of the HPFPI, Iloilo Federation of Community Association, and the Iloilo City Urban Poor Federation.

Their engagement ranges from assistance with land acquisition, community upgrading, provision of housing materials, and construction of houses for the urban poor.

No fund was sourced from the local government but grants were coming from various international agencies, according to Cadornigara.

The city government provides technical assistance through its Iloilo City Urban Poor Affairs Office (ICUPAO).

The network is also among the partners of the city government in the beneficiary selection and validation of recipients for housing projects intended for informal settlers and those that will be displaced by government priority projects.

She added that the HPFPI has a non-negotiable requirement of a community savings program where they have to set aside a certain amount every week.

About 400 families benefitted from the construction of new houses, while they also helped build transit housing for victims of Typhoon Frank in 2008 aside from its ongoing housing materials assistance for urban poor communities.

“In all aspects of the housing project, the (urban) poor community is involved,” Iloilo City Urban Poor Federation president Benfred Tacuyan, said in a separate interview.

The federation has about 11,000 individual members from various associations in relocation sites and in other communities that are faced with issues regarding the security of land tenure.

“The local government, as its major strategy, has involved the urban poor sector in implementing major projects, especially in clearing the project areas. The impact on affected families is different when the concerned sector, together with the local government, is reaching out to them,” he added.

The grand winner, to be announced in December, will receive USD250,000, while the four runners-up will get USD25,000 each.

The WRI Ross Center Prize for Cities is a global award that celebrates and highlights transformative urban change. (PNA)