Linares sees living conditions of Upper Town residents
The Minister for Housing, Steven Linares, saw first-hand the living conditions of Upper Town residents, after Action for Housing invited him to visit the area.
During his visit Mr Linares maintained that the construction and sales of affordable housing, together with the construction of rental flats specifically designed for the elderly, is the way forward.
“This maximises the return of existing Governmental Rental flats to the housing department’s stock for subsequent allocation alleviating both the housing waiting list and its waiting time,” a statement from No6 Convent place said.
Mr Linares visited the homes with the Principal Housing Officer, Geraldine Reading, where they met with Action for Housing’s Henry Pinna, Zohra El Gharbaoui Ariba and John Calderon to view properties in the Upper Town and back streets.
They also took the opportunity to meet with some of the tenants of these privately rented flats and see first-hand how their lives are being affected by their living conditions.
The statement added Mr Linares and his officials often frequent these areas in their own time.
Action for Housing stressed the visit highlighted the substandard dwellings and appalling conditions in which tenants live in Gibraltar.
“The Minister gave us one and a half hours of his time to view and inspect some of the flats we so desperately wanted him to visit,” Action for Housing said.
“Needless to say we would have wanted more time with him, but at least still managed to visit five dwellings and one government-owned building whose tenants need to be decanted.”
Action for Housing said Mr Linares saw for himself the “very deplorable conditions in which some elderly persons, particularly in [the] Moroccan community, continue to live in”.
“What they observed was only a snapshot of a much wider reality and a situation which should not exist in a financially prosperous place like Gibraltar,” the group said.
“Although Action for Housing appreciate that much has been done in the way of providing housing for pensioners, as well as for those who have purchased their homes in the supposedly low-cost housing schemes, there is still a great deal to do in order to eliminate all those pockets in which people live in totally unacceptable conditions.”
“During our visits we were able to speak candidly with the Minister and urged him once again the need for government to provide more homes for rental to cater for the poorer members of our community.”
“Without these extra number of flats, some of the people we visited, as well as others in the same predicament, will pass away (as has happened in the past) without having been able to enjoy a decent home in their twilight years.”
Action for Housing said they will continue to lobby and campaign for decent housing for those who have been historically neglected.
Mr Linares encourages members of the public to anonymously report seemingly vacant Government flats to the Housing Department’s hotline on 200 40040 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org so that these can be investigated.