The Malta Independent 17 December 2018, Monday

'Social housing should be both affordable and reach standard of living'

Giulia Magri Saturday, 17 November 2018, 15:50 Last update: about 30 days ago

The development of social housing is to be affordable, decent and to help those who currently cannot afford housing, Leonid McKay, CEO of the Housing Authority and previous Director of Caritas said today.

Poverty and its relation to affordable housing prices has  been regularly discussed in recent years and with the release of the white paper on housing in Malta, the group Catholic Voices organised their first public activity on this issue. The conference dealt with the way the supply and demand of property has affected the fabric of society and poverty.

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Speaking at a conference, ‘NibnuDarnaFuqil-Blat’ alongside Mckay on the panel were Joseph Bartolo (Alliance Against Poverty), Simon Debono (Secretary General of the Federation Estate Agents), Anthony Gatt (Director of Caritas), Simone VellaLenicker (Vice President of Kamratal-Periti) and TonioFenech, the coordinator of Catholic Voices Malta and former economy minister. 

The discussion highlighted issues brought about by the recently published white paper on housing, which also aims to tackle the increase in tourism and migration which has contributed to an upward trend in renting costs.

Joseph Bartolo said that not only are those living off a low wage not managing to own their own property, but those who have a minimum wage too are finding it difficult. He added that today it is becoming merely impossible to rent, as the continuous growth of the economy brings on price inflation, making the gap between the wealthy and poor bigger and bigger.

Simon Debono said that the development of social housing is to be taken care of by the Govenrment and not be privately owned. “It is not the job of estate agents to take care of the poor, but the Church’s role and the church has land it can develop,” he said.

Anthony Gatt said that the increase in the price of property brings a huge question mark over those who are currently struggling to survive. While there are people who benefit from buying property and then renting it out, such an investment in property is only cutting a deeper wound among the most vulnerable of society. 

McKay said that as it would be ideal for a family to own its own property, but renting is a necessity for some who could never afford to buy their own house. Social housing is extremely important and the authorities must develop upon it. The government must take the initative to support people throughout the way, and therefore to decrease the dependency on the state

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