A total of 263 units at Pope Francis Village are to be turned over on November 21, more than three years since the Roman Catholic- funded housing project started in August 2015. (Roel T Amazona)

TACLOBAN CITY– Residents coming from 11 coastal villages of this city will finally be awarded with their permanent housing units funded by the Roman Catholic Church after almost three years of waiting.
A total of 263 units will be awarded on November 21 to families whose houses were totally washed out during the onslaught of super typhoon ’Yolanda.’
These families are residents of San Jose, Magallanes, Pampango and Old Road Sagkahan districts.
The beneficiaries are to be relocated to Pope Francis Village located in Barangay 99, Diit.
The 12-hectare resettlement site has about 566 housing units but only 262 units are to be awarded to the same number of families.
The Department of Public Works and Highways and the 546th Engineering Construction Battalion of the Philippine Army helped in the site development while the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) under its core shelter program, allocated P38 million or P70,000 per housing unit.
The project is a product of a consortium of organizations called Francesco lead by the Canadian Catholic for Development and Peace, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines—National Secretariat for Social Action, the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, the Archdiocese of Palo through Caritas-Palo and the Urban Poor Associates.
“I never thought that I will own a house like this,” Yolanda Sembrero, a mother of four, said.
Sembrero’s family is from Brgy. 89 in San Jose which was one of the hardest-hit area when Yolanda pummeled this city on November 8,2013.
Part of the requirement for her family to become a beneficiary is to help in the construction of the housing project and they will shoulder the expenses on improving the interior of the house.
The concept allows them to check the progress of the construction and ensure that the specifications are followed.
“Our hope now is for other housing projects to replicate the process that we did. The community must have involvement to the project. The contractors should ask the beneficiaries through a dialogue if what kind of design and how their house should be build,” Sembrero said.
Also called as in-city relocation, the housing project is located five kilometers from the city proper unlike the housing projects of the National Housing Authority located more than 10 kilometers outside of the city center.
Fare to Pope Francis Village cost P9.00 unlike to the housing projects of NHA that cost from P13 to P20.
“This is a factor that was considered when this project was conceptualized because most of the beneficiaries comes from a fishing communities,” Joli Torella, Urban Poor Associates community organizer said.
“The beneficiaries must stay closer to the source of their livelihood so that their stay in their new houses will not be affected by problem on looking where to get the support they need for their daily survival,” Torella added.
The project was supposed to be completed in 2016 but was hampered due to funding problem.
The resettlement site has its own multi-purpose building, day care center, health center, school campus, material recovery facility, commercial building and park and playgrounds. (ROEL T. AMAZONA)