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GSD calls on Govt to urgently clarify housing scheme for homeless men

Pic: Eyleen Gomez

The GSD has called on the Gibraltar Government to clarify its scheme to house homeless men, as the deadline looms for individuals who were temporarily housed at the Retreat Centre as a result of the lockdown to vacate rooms.
In a statement, the GSD explained its MPs had been in contact with those individuals affected as well as the pressure group Action for Housing, after the plight of the men was highlighted earlier this week by GBC and Panorama.
In addition, the party has written to the Minister for Housing, Steven Linares, after letters were sent to those currently occupying the retreat centre informing them that they have to vacate by Sunday.
The GSD said the Government therefore needs to provide clarity on its recently announced scheme to house homeless men. 
In a recent parliamentary session the Government said it had allocated 11 flats to be used as emergency housing to homeless men in lieu of previous plans to create a halfway house for men. 
“As we have seen with the seven men and two women housed at the retreat centre, the pandemic has created a very real emergency for some individuals who have found themselves in a homeless situation,” the GSD said.  
“Whilst we are aware that some of the individuals have been offered a room at the Devil’s Tower Hostel this is not, we are informed by Action for Housing, the position with everyone.”
“The question that some of the affected individuals who qualify for Government housing are asking us is what is the criteria for qualification for the emergency housing scheme which the Government announced in Parliament?” 
“No one is suggesting that anyone should jump the housing waiting list queue but if the Government has announced a scheme to provide emergency housing in lieu of a half-way house, then there ought to be transparency on the qualification criteria and proper reasons should be provided as to why some of these men do not qualify.” 
“Otherwise, the so-called scheme merely becomes a Government smokescreen for going back on its earlier promise to build a half-way house for men,” the party claimed. 
There are also individuals at the retreat centre who do not qualify for Government housing. 
That is understood, the GSD said, adding however that where there is genuine hardship, as in the cases caused by the pandemic, the Government should assist these individuals on a temporary basis.
There are also two women at the retreat centre. One of these has been stranded in Gibraltar as a consequence of the lockdown in Morocco and another who finds herself genuinely homeless, the GSD said.
“We hope both of them are provided with temporary accommodation at the women’s refuge or somewhere else,” the party said.
“It would not be humane to kick them out onto the streets on Sunday.”

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