Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Housing lobby calls for Rental Housing

Gibraltar Women’s Association denounce new house prices

Action for Housing the group lobbying for affordable accommodation has called on the Government to make an announcement on the building of houses for rent.

Henry Pinna, the AH chairman said yesterday that they welcomed the announcement made last week by Government to offer 400 homes saying that any scheme that provides housing for those eligible to be on the housing waiting list is good news. On Rosia Court the group agreed with the re-sale restrictions to prevent speculation and introduction of measures to assist first-time buyers but said it was disappointed at the price range of £145,000 to £108,000.

“We do not think that these prices are within the reach of the average first-time buyers and we urge Government to adhere to a more realistic principle of affordability and access of opportunity for the potential buyers of more limited financial means,” he said.

The group say they are concerned that no public announcement has yet been made regarding that construction of flats for rental.

“In their 2003 manifesto the GSD now in Government said they would construct some 150 flats for rental. However no date has yet been given for the commencement of this project. Before the construction of these 150 flats can commence, the workers’ hostel as Devil’s Tower Road has to be re-sited and the derelict Ready Mix factory demolished. We fear that unless the Government moves very quickly indeed they will be unable to deliver on this electoral commitment.”

The group insists that Government must provide housing for those unable to buy a property even if these are low cost “a commodity we have not seen for some time now.” They also urge that the housing units to be constructed at Waterport Road fall within the realistic category of low cost housing so that they are within the reach of buyers with limited financial means.

Meanwhile, Gibraltar Women’s Association has spoken out at the “extremely high prices” being asked for the latest batch of properties for sale being released by the local Government. In a statement issued yesterday, the GWA calls on the Government to review the valuation and cost of these houses “before Gibraltar becomes too expensive for its own very people to live in.”

A Gibraltar Women’s Association statement said:

“We have noted with great interest the offer for sale of the residential properties at Rosia Court advertised in the press. While we feel sure that Government has given great consideration as to who these properties are aimed for, particularly in view of the strict criteria and restrictions placed on re-sales, it would seem to have escaped Government's notice that the valuation of these properties is extremely high and will make the purchase of these difficult to attain for the majority of young married first-time buyers (as the advert states) unless they have significant savings or have recently won the lottery.” “Gibraltarians who need a house to live in, whether they are currently living here or ‘belongers’ living across the border due to necessity, really deserve better. An optimistic estimation of the average wage of a young professional is probably in the region of £25,000. One does not have to be a mathematical genius to realise that to be able to afford a mortgage on even a 70/30 basis is highly unlikely. This therefore begs the question who exactly within the target demographic will be able to afford them?”

“The majority of people on the housing waiting list are there for a reason. The original plan of the 50/50 scheme, albeit not perfect, enabled many to buy where before they could not. Sadly the restrictions on these co-ownerships no longer seem to apply and have resulted in their inclusions on the open property market and the madness of current market value. Basing the prices of these tender properties on the current market value is nothing short of ridiculous and one can only wonder if these are the prices being set on tender properties what can we expect on those other properties which government will be building from new?”

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