Miraculous Hills Community Resettlement

Exhibition: Cities | October 11, 2011 by

Over one million of the 2.68 million people who reside in the northeast district of Quezon City, in the Philippines, live in slums, many in high-risk areas on riverbanks, under bridges, and in alleys on private or public land. Payatas, one of the poorest and largest informal settlements, lies at the foot of a 39.6-meter-high (130-foot-high) mountain of trash—a home and source of livelihood to about 4,000 scavenger families that pick through the garbage to supply recyclable material to waste-recovery and recycling businesses. In 2000, a landslide of garbage killed and displaced scores of residents in the slum.

SDI’s Philippine federation has chapters in eighteen cities that use savings to mobilize victims of disasters, ecological crises, and evictions. A founding member of the Homeless Peoples Federation of the Philippines, the Payatas Scavengers Association formed to save money collectively, with the goal of purchasing land for those living under threat of eviction from private land owners around the dumpsite. In 1998, 280 families from the savings group purchased 30,000 square meters (325,000 sq. ft.) of land in Rodriquez, Rizal province, and began designing and constructing the Miraculous Hills resettlement site, comprising sixty-two housing structures for survivors of the landslide. Fifty families live on the site, which is still in development, with drainage, roads, off-grid electricity, well water for drinking, bathing, and washing, a daycare center, and bio-intensive gardening and hog-raising ventures for income. Further design and planning are underway for a comprehensive eco-settlement to improve living conditions through efficient resource use and reduced pollution. Initial ideas include solar-generated electricity, alternative building materials for additional housing, improved drainage, rainwater harvesting, a biogas digester, community kitchen, playground, and bio-diesel production for fuel.

Payatas settlement community and SDI alliance: Homeless People’s Federation, Payatas Scavenger’s Homeowner Association, Philippine Action for Community-Led Shelter Initiatives, with Municipality of Rodriguez. Sitio Bangkal, Barangay San Isidro, Rodriguez, Rizal Province, Philippines, 1997–present

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