The LANDS program stands as a symbol of participatory democracy, fostering collaborative solutions that empower disadvantaged communities while reducing dependence on government aid. With a history dating back to its establishment in 1986, KPS’s unwavering dedication continues to illuminate a path towards secure and improved living conditions for urban poor families.

Urban poverty is a critical concern in the Philippines that profoundly affects a substantial portion of the population residing in urban areas. This issue exposes them to numerous challenges arising from economic disadvantages. These individuals and families grapple with insufficient access to essential necessities such as proper housing, clean water, sanitation, education, healthcare, and other fundamental services. Overcrowded and substandard housing, limited employment opportunities, and vulnerability to various social and economic risks characterize their living conditions.

In the context of the Philippines’ urban landscape, informal settlements, often colloquially referred to as slums or shantytowns, have become widespread. These settlements are the outcome of a complex interplay of poverty and intertwined factors.

Many of the urban poor in the Philippines encounter barriers when attempting to secure stable, well-paying employment opportunities. These obstacles stem from factors including inadequate education, skill mismatches, and fierce competition within a constrained job market. These hindrances in accessing formal employment inevitably result in reduced income and financial instability for the affected population.

The scarcity of affordable housing options within urban regions compounds the challenges faced by the urban poor. The costs associated with formal housing units frequently exceed the financial means of this demographic. Consequently, informal settlements become an attractive alternative due to their relatively lower costs or even the absence of formal rent or ownership fees.

The migration from rural to urban areas, driven by the prospect of improved economic prospects and living conditions, leads to an influx of individuals into urban centers. However, many of these migrants find themselves in informal settlements due to their inability to access formal housing upon arrival.

The absence of secure land tenure or property rights exacerbates the difficulties the urban poor face in accessing legitimate housing options. This compels them to settle on vacant or underutilized lands without legal authorization, thus contributing to the proliferation of informal settlements.

Rapid urbanization often outpaces urban planning and infrastructure development, resulting in the emergence of informal settlements in unsuitable areas such as flood-prone zones, hazardous slopes, and regions with inadequate access to basic services.

Resource constraints frequently hinder the government’s ability to provide affordable housing and essential services to the urban poor. This inadequacy can lead to underwhelming social housing initiatives and insufficient provision of vital services, thereby perpetuating the expansion of informal settlements.

Informal settlements foster a cycle of poverty. Living conditions within these settlements are generally unsanitary and unsafe, giving rise to health problems and limiting educational opportunities for children. This lack of access to education and healthcare services hinders social mobility and sustains poverty across generations.

Essential amenities like clean water, sanitation, electricity, and healthcare are often absent in informal settlements, intensifying the hardships endured by residents and reinforcing the cycle of poverty. Urban poverty in the Philippines acts as a catalyst for the proliferation of informal settlements in urban areas. The absence of affordable housing, limited economic opportunities, inadequate urban planning, and insufficient governmental assistance collectively create an environment where the urban poor are compelled to inhabit substandard conditions on unauthorized land. Effectively addressing the challenge of informal settlements necessitates the implementation of comprehensive strategies that focus on providing affordable housing, improving livelihood prospects, upgrading existing settlements, and ensuring universal access to essential services for all urban residents.

In the city of General Santos, the Makar Townsite Reservation (MTR) gained prominence as the designated relocation site for legitimate urban poor members through Presidential Proclamation No. 727 issued by President Cory Aquino in 1991. This decision highlighted the dire circumstances faced by informal settler families in the city. Many urban poor communities aligned themselves with the KPS organization, participating as legal petitioners during the preparatory and lobbying phases leading up to the proclamation of MTR as the relocation site. These marginalized communities were spread across urban and rural barangays (districts) of the city, with estimates suggesting their numbers reached around 80,000 in the early 1990s.

While the allocation of MTR for the resettlement of 3,000 urban poor families under President Cory’s proclamation marked a significant milestone in the local urban poor development struggle, it fell short of substantially alleviating the city’s housing deficit. Consequently, over a hundred urban poor People’s Organizations (POs), collaborating with the KPS Urban Poor Federation but not accommodated in the MTR relocation plan, sought alternative resettlement opportunities from KPS leadership. Faced with this challenge, KPS leaders embarked on a mission to establish a self-help and community-driven initiative aimed at relocating and resettling fellow urban poor residents. They leveraged the provisions outlined in the Urban Development and Housing Act (UDHA) of 1992, engaging in negotiations with sympathetic landowners to secure additional parcels of land for relocation.

This proactive approach demonstrated the resilience and determination of KPS leadership in addressing urban housing scarcity. By exploring solutions beyond MTR, they embraced community-led action and self-reliance, aiming to provide support to urban poor families while navigating rapid urbanization challenges.

The collaboration between KPS leaders and compassionate landowners exemplified the potential synergy between civil society and private stakeholders. This dynamic model of community-led development not only alleviated housing deficiencies but also showcased collective efforts in generating solutions for social and urban challenges. As General Santos City continued to evolve, KPS’s efforts remained a testament to the power of grassroots initiatives in improving the lives of vulnerable society members.

The LANDS (Land Acquisition through Negotiated Direct Schemes) program stands as an embodiment of participatory democracy applied to the complex issue of alleviating “homelessness and hopelessness” experienced by impoverished communities. This innovative approach empowers individuals to take ownership of their challenges, collaborating with local government bodies to devise self-sufficient solutions, effectively reducing dependency on government aid.

“Between 1995 and 1998, around 5,000 to 8,000 economically disadvantaged families were successfully relocated to government-designated sites through the joint efforts of local government units and KPS. This partnership between a Non-Governmental Organization with People’s Organization roots (NGO-PO) and the city administration of General Santos City became the focus of Akira Akasawa’s master’s thesis in Urban Planning, titled “Dynamics of Local Initiatives in Land Acquisition: The Case of General Santos City, the Philippines,” submitted to the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in June 1998.”

In 2001, the KPS LANDS Program received support from Cordaid, a prominent Catholic Organization for Relief and Development headquartered in the Netherlands. Over 3 to 5 years, this international development NGO collaboratively enhanced the program’s fundamental services, resulting in the visionary project “Assistance to LANDS — An Urban Poor Land Acquisition and Settlement Upgrading Project.”

Over three decades from 1989 to 2023, KPS has remained committed to resettling urban poor families into secure and dignified living conditions. The culmination of these efforts is embodied in the overarching LANDS (Land Acquisition through Negotiated Direct Schemes) Program, representing KPS’s responsive approach to implementing the Urban Development and Housing Act (RA 7279).

In conclusion, the LANDS program stands as a symbol of participatory democracy, fostering collaborative solutions that empower disadvantaged communities while reducing dependence on government aid. With a history dating back to its establishment in 1986, KPS’s unwavering dedication continues to illuminate a path towards secure and improved living conditions for urban poor families.

Project Sites

Project SitesBarangayPeriod AcquiredArea (sqm)MaleFemale# FamiliesStatus
Aquino HomesMabuhay200010,000256868For Titling
BOC Homes Phase-1Sinawal200122,8407967146For Titling
BOC Homes Phase-2Katangawan200510,000214263For Titling
David HomesKatangawan199777,981179201380Ongoing
DBP-1San Isidro200730,000309272581For Titling
DBP-2Mabuhay200825,404101173274For Titling
DBP-3Calumpang200925,4046987156For Titling
EMB Phase-2Labangal200020,000112233Ongoing
Famin Phase-2Mabuhay199810,44192837Completed
Famin Phase-3Mabuhay19985,147214263For Titling
Gloriville HomesKatangawan19984,5006983152For Titling
MadonnavilleFatima201210,00064147211For Titling
Maryville HomesKatangawan200142,34681163244For Titling
NierevilleSan Isidro200725,00073203276For Titling
Orillano HomesMabuhay200050,00090105195Ongoing
Pawas ProjectCalumpang66c/o HOA
PBCOM VillageSan Isidro200210,34570121191For Titling
RosevilleCalumpang20076,832373067For Titling
Veterans VillageKatangawan2011118,698158378536For Titling
Villa FranissaSinawal109
Ubanan HomesConel2020101,497118170288Ongoing
Project SitesBarangayPeriod AcquiredArea (sqm)MaleFemale# FamiliesStatus
Abrea Village Phase-ACannery Site201723,6354458102Ongoing
Alarcon VillageCannery Site201913,405182745Ongoing
CrisvillePoblacion201429,0005472126For Titling
Hiyas VillagePoblacion201137,3454979128For Titling
Padillo HomesUpper Klinan202034,000355691Ongoing
Project SitesBarangayPeriod AcquiredArea (sqm)MaleFemale# FamiliesStatus
Arenas 2 VillageSaravia201447,220105139244For Titling
Santino VillageNew Pangasinan201730,000546767Ongoing
Project SitesBarangayPeriod AcquiredArea (sqm)MaleFemale# FamiliesStatus
Zamora VillageDajay201660,00062104166Ongoing
Project SitesBarangayPeriod AcquiredArea (sqm)MaleFemale# FamiliesStatus
ArchievilleNew Carmen200820,000513586For Titling
Arturo HomesCalean200820,000394483For Titling
CarryvilleKalandagan200938,463305484For Titling
JasonvilleSan Pablo201241,32968102170For Titling
Leddaville Phase 1San Pablo200748,276106102208For Titling


Total Projects


No. of Barangays


Total No. of Families

  • The Makar Townsite Proclamation
    Makar is a testimony of an 80-year old struggle over land, for whom the victor has been the urban poor, and whose struggle of tenure will indefinitely continue. | Full-text

  • Dynamics of Local Initiatives in Land Acquisition: The Case of General, the Philippines
    Thesis of Akira Akazawa of Kyoto University submitted to the Department of Urban Studies and Planning | Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) 1998 | Reference | Full-text
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