Iloilo City’s poor have been empowered and enriched through an initiative that gives them the power and management to build their dream houses in city-owned resettlement sites through a socialized housing program.

This has been realized and made possible through the Community-led Infrastructure Finance Facility (CLIFF), a venture capital facility which enables organized urban poor communities leverage greater public-private and civil society sector resources for housing and basic services delivery.

The urban poor has benefited from a P25-M program funded by Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and Department for International Development (DFID) and being managed by UK-based NGO Homeless International.

CLIFF is now gaining ground in 1.6-hectare resettlement site in Brgy. San Isidro, Jaro district, nearing the completion of building a total 172 housing units by the beneficiaries themselves.

CLIFF seeks to provide sustainable and affordable housing to low-income families through a housing loan with flexible terms and declining balance, explained Sonia Cadornigara, regional coordinator for Western Visayas of Homeless People’s Federation Philippines, Inc. (HPFPI).

The endeavor invests on community-driven and participatory processes in all project stages from planning, housing design, procurement, construction management and over-all project development, stressed Cadornigara.

CLIFF’s first phase is divided into two sub-projects: the 21-unit KABALAKA Housing Demonstration in Zone 1, Calumpang in Molo district and the 172 unit Community-Managed Resettlement Housing in San Isidro Relocation Site in Jaro.

At least four CLIFF expansion projects are projected for Iloilo City which will soon cater to the city’s low-income households who were relocated in government resettlement sites but have limited access to affordable housing finance, and those currently living in high-risk areas and facing eviction and demolition cases.

The existence of a unified network of indigent federations under the Iloilo City Urban Poor Network (ICUPN) and the Philippine Alliance’s existing city-level engagements, citywide savings and community-led upgrading program have served as salient factors which made the metropolis a potential testing ground and learning hub for community-managed housing initiatives.

The learnings gained from Iloilo City’s innovative practices and strategies on community-managed housing are now being replicated to other potential CLIFF expansion communities in other regions, Cadornigara noted.

Building on city-wide processes and with endorsement from Slum Dweller’s International, the Philippine Alliance was chosen as the third implementing partner (next to India and Kenya) of CLIFF Program since 2007.

The Alliance is consists of HPFPI, a national network of 200 urban poor associations established in 14 cities and 16 municipalities across the country, and its intermediary support institution, the Philippine Action for Community-led Shelter Initiatives, Inc. (PACSII).

HPFPI, as the implementing arm, has been involved in mobilizing urban informal settlers and slum dwellers to seek solutions to issues of land tenure, shelter, slum upgrading and disaster. It uses savings as main strategy for organizing and development of urban poor communities.

PACSII, as the executing arm, has been providing support to HPFPI in terms of fund intermediation, policy direction, program design, fund sourcing and management, institutional development, legal assistance, documentation, facilitation of learning exchanges and capacity building programs and forges linkages between HPFPI and other stakeholders.

The Alliance partners and works with government, academic institutions, and professional organizations to support community upgrading and housing initiatives of HPFPI and their network communities.

It promotes community-driven processes in all its undertakings where people create social spaces and define means to mobilize their own resources, engage with various sectors and influence city-level platforms for advancement of pro-poor agenda.

CLIFF targets to implement community-driven housing program in localities with strong public-private sector collaboration and with fertile ground for scaling-up innovative financing of low-cost housing projects.