Thirty Habitat homes are being built this week at this JCWP site in Dumaguete City. Twenty-one families already live in Habitat houses at the site.
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Dumaguete City is a naturally beautiful place where green lawns hug the seaside boulevard and the outskirts of town give way to fields of sugar cane and groves of coconut and banana trees.

It's also a magnet for migrants from elsewhere on economically ailing Negros Island. The influx of villagers looking for work has overwhelmed Dumaguete's housing market.

Squatters have set up camp everywhere.

In Dumaguete City proper, 40 percent of all houses are cobbled together of lightweight, makeshift material that won't withstand a rainstorm. In the suburbs, the percentage of such dwellings rises to 55 percent. The city reports 1,100 squatter families on government land alone.

Quality, affordable housing is what Dumaguete City needs most. And, this week, that's what it's getting.

One of six JCWP building sites in the Philippines, Dumaguete City will witness Habitat for Humanity volunteers and homeowner families build 30 simple, decent houses by Sunday. Later, another 102 houses made possible by JCWP will follow.

The houses, each about 18 feet by 18 feet, are made with hollow concrete blocks for walls and galvanized iron sheeting over wood trusses for roofs. The cost of each structure is about US$1,875.

Homeowners families will pay installments of US$7.25 a month on their zero-interest, 10-year mortgages.

Dumaguete City's housing problem is no fault of the local Habitat for Humanity affiliate. Dumaguete City HFH has constructed 490 houses in half a dozen subdivisions and other sites during the past 11 years, providing inexpensive but solid shelter to more than 2,500 people.

But in a nation where most of the population lives in urban areas like Dumaguete City, the affiliate has hard-pressed to keep up with growing demand.

Yet its efforts give hope to Habitat partner families. Most of the adults in those families earn from US$130 to US$230 a month as laborers, vendors or sales clerks.

Some day, with the hand up offered by Habitat for Humanity and its legions of volunteers, children in those families may be able to attend Silliman University, the hometown college, or other educational institutions and slip the bonds of poverty for the rest of their lives.

Return to Wednesday's 1999 JCWP Report

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