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GSLP/Liberals outline plans for pensioner homes

Photos by Johnny Bugeja

In its fifth press conference since the general election was called, the GSLP/Liberals focused on homes for Gibraltar’s pensioners and offered more information on its plans for a development in Laguna.

In March this year, when in Government, the alliance obtained full planning permission for a multi-purpose building on the site of the former Laguna Estate Youth Club.

The proposed building will include residential apartments, a youth club, a day centre, an elevated playground area and car park.

At Thursday afternoon’s press conference, caretaker minister for economic development, Sir Joe Bossano, unveiled plans for addressing the housing needs of Gibraltar's pensioners.

In essence, any pensioner who currently owns 100% of their affordable home can sell it and use this money to buy a one-bedroomed apartment in the new Laguna development.

This will be sold to them at a price less than what they will have sold their original home for, meaning they will have some money in the bank afterwards to do whatever they wish.

“We are going to give people the opportunity to unlock the equity [in their home],” said Sir Joe. They will own the new home 100%.

When a times comes and the owner of the Laguna apartment no longer needs the home, it will be sold back to the developer. It will not be sold to anyone else.

The price it will be sold at will also ensure that no financial gain had been made by the owner. The property will then be sold on to another affordable housing homeowner who sold their property and qualified for the Laguna building.

The Laguna development has received significant interest, Sir Joe said, with 58 individuals expressing their hope to participate in the scheme.

If re-elected, the GSLP/Liberals plan to explore alternative sites for additional housing projects of this type to meet the growing demands of an ageing population.

Explaining the economics behind such a scheme, given the strain on public finances, Sir Joe said: “We're not going to be getting back to Government if we are re-elected on the basis that we found a huge source of wealth suddenly during the election campaign, and that they found more money after the election than there was before. That is not going to be the case.”

“So the projects that are being given that highest priority are projects that pay for themselves.”

“And the pensioner homes is a clear example of how easy it is to demonstrate that it pays for itself.”

He clarified that the new homes in Laguna are not limited to people in the homeownership scheme but are primarily intended for them because they are the people who would have been on the waiting lists had there not been homeownership schemes.

“We may consider in cases some homeowners that are in the 5050 system. Maybe the new apartment available on a 50:50 basis as well,” he said.

Also present at the conference were the caretaker Deputy Chief Minister and leader of the Liberal Party, Dr Joseph Garcia and the caretaker Minister for Finance, Albert Isola.

Sir Joe added that “the beauty of the scheme is that we're not just solving the problem of those who are pensioners now but creating a pool of property that will only be available to pensioners, and that can only be bought by pensioners.”

“So it will always be a pool that never diminishes.”

“It will not be a pool that people can come out into the open market and selling to new arrives, new citizens coming into Gibraltar.

Mr Isola said that it is quite incredible that the architect of the 50/50 housing scheme so many years ago, is still today, more innovative, more youthful, and with more ideas about providing homes for people that the entire opposition party has been in the last 20 years.”

“Because to be able to still continue to come up with a simple, effective ideas like the one he's just detailed. Here's an example to you all as to why it's essential that Gibraltar returns a GSLP/Liberal Alliance into Government.

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