Watch: An urgent need to increase social housing units

The main point that emerged from a discussion dubbed ‘Nibnu Darna fuq il-Belt’ was that an urgent discussion on social accommodation is needed. The discussion was held on Saturday at St Aloysius College, Birkirkara, with the Coordinator of Catholic Voices in Malta, Tonio Fenech, saying that they chose to hold the event due to their believe that owning property is part of a person’s personal freedom and helps one’s dignity.

In a comment to Newsbook.com.mt, Fenech said that the increase in property prices led to a number of families experiencing difficulties. During the discussion, Fenech said that a person should not be serving the capital, but vice versa.

“Rents have increased, especially to the North of the island”

In a study on housing and rent prices and their effects on people, presented by ARQ group, showed that the rent prices increased drastically to the North of the country. JP Fabri explained that the figures for the regional amounts did not exceed 12 months. He then went on to mention the hardship that families are facing to make ends meet and pay their monthly rent. He further explained that from the findings it emerged that tourism and associated service contributed mostly to Malta’s economic growth while the construction industry did not have a major impact on it. Fabri emphasized on the need that given the increase in demand, there needs to be an increase in housing units, especially social housing.

“It’s tough to keep up with inflation”

John Bartolo from Alleanza Kontra l-Faqar emphasized on how low-income earners were negatively impacted by inflation, saying that the adjustment, made little to no difference. Bartolo said that there was a big difference in income between the different strata of society. Bartolo mentioned lack of fixed pricing and rent control as shortcomings in the recently published White Paper. According to Bartolo both low-income earners and medium-income earners were experiencing difficulties when buying property.

“Rent prices increased five times over three years”

The Secretary General of the Federation of Estate Agents, Simon Debono, said that the definition of social housing was housing for those who could not afford a place to stay. He emphasized on the fact that rent prices were increased three times over a period of three years.

He also spoke of how the White Paper would not solve the problems, and social housing remains ultimately under the Government’s responsibility. Debono appealed to the Church to take back 44 properties it had given the Government, which could be refurbished and sold to those in need, at the cheapest price possible.

“Low income earners are the hardest hit by rent prices”

Caritas’ Director Anthony Gatt said that low-income earners were suffering a lot, even though a majority of those who were not classified as low-income earners were doing well. Gatt spoke of economic growth and the urgent need for social housing especially for those who need it. Gatt said that the question about the White Paper remains how will the private sector respond. He observed how the increase in social housing units was yet to be addressed.

Read full report in Maltese here.