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German group, priests establish Lapu low-cost housing project

Sun.Star Cebu <> Saturday, July 12, 2008

BY NANCY R. CUDIS, Sun.Star Staff Reporter

MORE scavenger families in Metro Cebu are targeted to benefit from the low-cost housing project of the fathers of the Society of the Divine Word (SVD), especially when its mission unit is already on the look-out for new lots to expand its existing projects and start new ones.

The Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation-Integrated Development Center (JPIC-IDC) launched last year a two-hectare low-cost housing project in Barangay Bangkal, Lapu-Lapu City for 256 urban poor families.

The project’s private donor, German-based foundation Karl Kuebel Stiftung, provided an initial funding of P16 million for the purchase of the lot alone.

The target beneficiaries are scavengers and identifying them is based on “very specific” criteria, said Fr. Anthony Salas, SVD, of JPIC-IDC in a phone interview.

The project is named St. Arnold Janssen Village or Janssenville after the founder of SVD. It is located a “few hundred meters” outside the dump site in Barangay Bangkal.

Executive architect Ellis Puerto said the first 100 houses are now nearing completion with labor contribution from the beneficiaries.

“The main anchor of the community, which is the worship center, is already being started and may be finished by the end of this year,” he said in an e-mail to Sun.Star Cebu.

Fr. Salas explained that apart from the very low amortization rate (around P700 per month for 25 years with an interest of only one percent per year) that beneficiaries have to pay, they are also expected to give 300 hours of free service to help build the units. Each unit, with a total floor area of around 30 square meters, sits on a land area of 20 square meters.

“This is a (four-year funding) project with an integrated approach, participated by different stakeholders, including JPIC-IDC, University of San Carlos’ College of Architecture and Fine Arts, and other colleges of the university,” he said.

The houses will be complemented with various facilities, such as chapel, pre-school center, livelihood center and grocery shop that will be run by the beneficiaries’ cooperative. Recreational facilities will also be constructed in the area.

Apart from the project, the SVD fathers also have four other low-cost housing projects in Inayawan (Cebu City), Talisay City, Tingub (Mandaue City) and Cordova. These low-cost housing projects are partly funded by private donors.

Fr. Salas said the projects were inspired by Fr. Heinz Kulueke, SVD, provincial superior of SVD Southern Province, who made frequent visits to scavengers in dump sites.

“We are missionaries. We want to help scavengers who live in inhuman conditions,” he said.

While completing the housing project in Lapu-Lapu City, JPIC-IDC is already looking for available lots in Barangay Umapad, Mandaue City for the scavenger families there. The Mandaue City Government supports the undertaking.

The group is also planning to add 28 units to the existing 50 homes in a housing project in Cordova.

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