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Population increase means more housing, Alliance says

Photo by Johnny Bugeja.

With the local population rising, the GSLP/Liberals are campaigning on a promise to provide housing for everyone on the waiting list within the next four years.

GSLP leader Fabian Picardo said the answer to housing from his point of view is to build more stock due to the local population increasing, which he said would be reflected in next year’s census.

“I think that the census next year is going to come as a shock to all of us because as you know, the census was carried out this year, but it's published next year because it takes time to collate.”

“The numbers have just got bigger and therefore we need to ensure that we are providing for those bigger numbers but in all of the types of housing that we provide for.”

“So for the elderly at the top, rental and purchase, for young people, rental and purchase, and for very young people and others who want one bedroom studio flats throughout the ages, rental and purchase.”

GSLP candidate Pat Orfila told reporters she would like to see the list dwindle down to net zero, and campaigned the alliance would build more affordable and rental housing.

The plans laid out in the manifesto would include for another affordable housing estate, a ‘super affordable’ housing estate, pensioners’ flats, and the “rental lease to repair” initiative.

For Ms Orfila, these projects coupled with the three affordable housing estates currently in construction will see an end to the housing waiting list.

Mr Picardo said he expects the first designs for the ‘super affordable’ homes to be ready by the first half of 2024 if elected, with the projects commissioned by the end of next year.

He said this would mean the new homes could be delivered two years later.

The ‘super affordable’ homes will be studios and one-bedrooms for first-time homeowners.

“You will know that of those 800 that we have in the housing waiting list, the vast majority are awaiting studios or one-bedrooms,” Mr Picardo said.

“Now, a very large number of those are actually young people and, by the time that you offer them a home, they say well, really, I don't want a one-bedroom because I've got a partner and we're going to have a child or we're going to marry.”

“So that doesn't mean, however, that you don't need to build one-bedrooms, because you've got people who have had marital breakdowns and if there are no children, then a one-bedroom is appropriate.”

“You've got people who have not married and who still want a one-bedroom, and that's how they want to be housed. So there are a large number of people who do need a one-bedroom, and there are some people who are starting and who want to move out of their parents’ home or for other reasons need to buy a one-bedroom or a studio.”

“We've identified that that is an area where people are interested in buying at a very affordable rate.”

The ‘super affordable’ homes will be also offered at rates below 50/50 home ownership, meaning that the person purchasing the home could buy a 30% stake with the government owning the remaining 70%.

Mr Picardo said the GSLP/Liberals have tightened leases to prevent profiteering and buy and sell homes at market value called “meritorious upgrades”.

“In the meritorious upgraded scheme, if you bought a two-bedroom from us and you now have more children, or if you are living in the private sector in a two-bedroom, which is not an affordable home, we will buy your home from you at the cost per square meter at which we will sell you the three-bedroom or the four-bedroom that you now need,” Mr Picardo said.

He added: “That means that we then put those properties, which are in affordable estates... or in the private sector, on the market ourselves at the price at which we bought them. In other words, we are making those properties available at today's affordable prices.”

Liberal leader Joseph Garcia looked back on their work in government to build and provide affordable housing.

“On housing we need to be judged by our record, our record alone speaks for itself and we have an impressive record on housing,” he said.

Ms Orfila said she was confident she can drastically reduce the waiting list, and described how the GSLP’s track record had seen the party cut housing waiting lists when in government.

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