Current Affairs
26,000 registrations with Housing Authority by owners renting to third parties

The Minister for Social Accommodation, Roderick Galdes, has announced that during the last ten months, 26,000 registrations have been received by the Housing Authority from owners renting out to third parties.

Minister Galdes stated this in Parliament while Estimates for the financing of social accommodation were being discussed. He said these registrations have enabled residents to benefit from rent subsidies. He said there are 3,000 families than have achieved benefit of €4 million from the scheme while in 2012 only €800,000 had been allocated for this.

He went on to state that currently the largest-ever social housing project is being carried out, that of 1,700 apartments whose construction is at an advanced stage. He said apartment block in Birkirkara, Msida, Żurrieq and Kirkop are in their final completion stages. These and other projects are helping persons to emerge from poverty.

Galdes said the waiting list for people requesting social accommodation has been reduced by 700 from the total of 3,000 applications. The Minister said the Government has already allocated 1,300 apartments to families in need.

Families have also been enabled to reside in more comfortable apartments as a result of a subsidy of €400 monthly for renting. The Minister continued saying the Government is working on a comprehensive reform scheme in the housing sector to update legislation to give greater powers to the Housing Authority to control abuses. He said the current greatest problem in the sector is that of marital separations. There has also been greater enforcement of those who were abiding in apartments without having the right to do so or are otherwise renting to tourists. Those who have provided incorrect information have also had procedures taken against them. Efforts are also ongoing to gather rents from inhabitants who have not paid their rent for a long while.

He said 130 persons have availed themselves of an arrangement made between the Government and banks to enable them to pay a deposit on intent to purchase a property. In addition 70 contracts have been drawn up on the Equity Sharing Scheme whereby the Government teams up with purchasers to pay for their purchase until retirement.

Minister Galdes said that for the first time extensive work is being undertaken on the maintenance of Government buildings throughout the country.

The Opposition Spokesperson for Social Accommodation, Ivan Bartolo, said the concept of the living wage should be introduced to attack problems of poverty in the country. He said that 20% of the population live in poverty or are at risk of living in poverty.

Bartolo said Government and Opposition should work together to solve the problem of those that do not have a roof over their heads as this applies to about 300 persons. He said the Government should provide shelters for such persons while he also claimed there is a growing chasm between the rich and the poor.

The price of property has increased so much in recent years that those earning a low salary cannot purchase property and also find difficulties in obtaining loans from commercial banks.

MP Bartolo said the national strategy for poverty and social exclusion should not be operative for just ten years but should be revised because the situation has changed since 2014 todate. He criticised the Government that for three successive years it has promised the building of 700 apartments for social housing while he also lamented over exaggerated high rents being requested.