GSD explains plans to ‘improve housing allocation system’
A GSD Government would introduce means-testing for new social housing allocations to prioritise people on lower incomes are allocated homes, GSD leader, Keith Azopardi, said on Friday.
During a press conference held at the GSD headquarters in College Lane, Mr Azopardi said the housing allocation rules were first drawn up in the 1970s and, since then, “have been tinkered with but not dramatically”.
“Of course, it was a very different Gibraltar,” Mr Azopardi said.
“I think we now need to look at those rules, but I also think we need to inject an element of means testing into the eligibility criteria so that we can prioritise housing for the people on lower incomes.”
The housing allocation system “needs to be improved”, Mr Azopardi said.
Mr Azopardi, who was joined by Edwin Reyes, said another area that the GSD would explore is an audit of the private housing stock and the public housing stock in tandem.
He said that if the Government is going to look at the issue of landlord and tenant reform, it would need to understand the interface between the private housing market and the public housing market.
After the completion of the current affordable housing schemes, the GSD, if elected on October 12, propose to build a further 500 homes for rental purposes and launch a new scheme of a further 750 affordable homes in their first term in office.
But he added that Hassan Centenary Terraces, Bob Peliza Mews and Chatham Views are “eight years late” and a GSD administration would have to play “catch-up”.
Mr Azopardi said last year that there were 200 people on the housing list, and 120 homes allocated, so “unless you’re building more houses as you’re going along, then you’re never going to deal with demand”.
“You've got to change the way that you allocate houses again to deal with the issues of low-income people getting stuck on the list for years and years and years,” he said.
“This is a kind of holistic set of changes that we hope will advance and progress how we're dealing with housing, and takes us to a better point.”
“But of course, it's not a sort of magic solution because of the clog up that has been created by a growing list, an insufficiently fast allocation system and the very long delayed completion of Bob Peliza Mews, Chatham Views and Hassan Centenary Terraces.”
“It is important to set it in context that whatever we are saying today, this is not a magic solution because we are going to play catch-up and inherit a growing housing list, a system that doesn't really work, delayed schemes.”
“And against that canvas, we're going to try to improve the situation.”
Quizzed on what a GSD Government will hope to achieve after conducting an audit on the private and public housing stock available in Gibraltar, Mr Azopardi said this is to “achieve proper planning for the future”.
This ties into the GSD’s Gibraltar 2055 policy announced last week, which is its 30-year plan that not only looks at environment planning, but also urban planning and an analysis of which direction the economy will take, he added.
“What happens is there tends to be piecemeal commitments in every electoral cycle by everybody,” Mr Azopardi said.
“Everyone just launches a scheme without really understanding where the population growth is going and what our needs will be in the future.”
A study of this sort will also help the Government to understand the demand of the types of houses that should be built, Mr Azopardi said, such as in the case of single fathers seeking joint custody of their children and being able to provide them with a place to stay.