Gibraltar Chronicle Logo
Opinion & Analysis

A fair deal on housing

By Edwin Reyes
We strongly believe there needs to be a fair deal on housing that makes sure that people on lower incomes and who cannot afford to buy, or with particular social-medical needs, are given priority in respect of Government rental accommodation.

Therefore, with this policy in mind, we will build more housing for rental. Our commitment is to build 500 new homes some of which will be specifically targeted for single people of all ages. We must not lose sight of the needs of young families as well as that of single and separated parents.

While reviewing the eligibility criteria we will cater for hardship cases and not, without a fair analysis as to the genuine reasons why, automatically rule out people who may have fallen on hard times or other exceptional circumstances just because they once owned their own accommodation property.

We will pursue to completion any housing projects which have commenced and that we may inherit when in Government and in respect of which there are contractual commitments. Alongside this we will undertake an audit of public and private housing stocks and relate it to the needs of our community so we may better manage our housing demands for the next 10 to 20 years.

Additionally, the public housing system needs to cater for divorced parents who do not have full time custody of children.

This would result in accommodation being made available on more flexible criteria for applicants so as to ensure that children can stay with the non-custodial parent.

We believe this will facilitate and maintain a closer family atmosphere for the benefit of children.

We will also create a list separately designed for those who wish to buy affordable homes and who do not necessarily require the allocation of rental housing.

This would ensure that the housing waiting lists are clearly demarcated and operated in terms of needs and means.

By introducing a means testing policy for all future applicants we will also ensure that people buy the appropriate share of their co-ownership home so that the taxpayer gets real and justified value for money.

The criteria for allocation of homes like those at Bishop Canilla House, Albert Risso House, Charles Bruzon House and Sea Master Lodge will also be reviewed so that the formula does not discriminate against otherwise eligible applicants who may have been previous home owners.

As in other applications for housing allocation these will be prioritised in terms of social-medical needs and will also be subject to means testing for potential future applicants.

It is our desire to see the Housing Works Agency remodelled so it has the capability to tackle maintenance of homes through a series of rapid response teams and to reduce the reliance on sub-contracted works.

This will supplement our commitment to offer real long term employment for our talented local craftsmen and provide an incentive for youngsters to undertake accredited training leading towards qualified craftsman status.