The Smokey Mountain Housing Project
Observations of infrastructural projects in Metro Manila, and implicit discriminatory housing avenues.
Throughout my time in academia, I have made Southeast Asia the focus of my work. I spent the entirety of my undergrad searching for opportunities to further specialize in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and the subsequent countries that compose its membership. Not many opportunities existed to focus on this region in coursework, or even independent research, but that only made my ambition to search for and complete such work more rigorous. How often do we, as a western audience, allow ourselves to really delve into a nation such as Indonesia, or Laos, without trying to implicitly tie it back to our world? How often can we fully explore the origins, development, and expectations of a nation that exists barely within the national mindset? I was inspired to develop an in-depth, focused project of research that was based not only on historical comprehension but contemporary analysis of domestic issues. My previous work on Southeast Asia was largely internally focused; one of my longer papers was focused on economic complexity throughout ASEAN, and if the body itself is significantly tied to such development. However, in allowing myself to delve further into a specific, national instance of study, I hope to better showcase the type of work that can be done for Southeast Asia.
This research and analysis explore efforts to provide low-cost housing and develop infrastructure for scavenging and homeless populations in the National Capital Region of the Philippines, with particular focus on the Smokey Mountain Housing Project as a joint venture between the National Housing Authority and the private developer, R-II Builders’ Inc. This piece looks into the occurrence of discriminatory practices in low-cost housing for larger households, especially for families possessing younger or elder members. These households are unable to compete economically and survive short-term costs within these projects. Therefore, they continue to exist within scavenger areas, such as the Payatas Dumpsite after the closure of the Smokey Mountain site in 1995. Through analysis and observation concerning infrastructure, governance, and housing discrimination capacity within the Philippines, as well as the socioeconomic environments of both Tondo and the Payatas, this paper builds upon the observation that the Smokey Mountain housing project inadequately provides for households with larger families and younger members.