Monday, August 15, 2005

Bruzon criticises changes to waiting list points system

Government-GSLP/Lib clash on housing

Opposition spokesman for Housing Charles Bruzon has expressed criticism at the changes in the housing waiting list points system introduced by the Gibraltar Government earlier this month.

Mr Bruzon declared that the fact they have changed the scheme “is a clear admission of their failures to deal with the housing needs of Gibraltar and that it has worsened over the years.” Mr Bruzon said:

“The amendments introduced this month to the Housing Allocation Scheme have the effect of giving much greater weight to the time spent on the Housing List as compared to the state of the housing conditions of the applicant.

The effect of the changes is that the relative position of existing applicants on the Waiting List will alter, except for those in the first 10.

Persons who are near the top because of poor housing conditions will now have to wait longer to be re-housed if there are others who have been on the list longer, but whose present conditions are not so bad.

Obviously the changes will affect those presently on the list and not new applicants. New applicants will still need to be on the pre-list for two years before they become eligible and at the end of the period get 100 points for waiting time as at present. After the 1st year on the main list the difference is that instead of an extra 50 points the applicant will get 100 points.

The effect of what takes place after the 3rd year, two years on the pre-list and 1 year on the main list, is that every year after that waiting time points will overtake every other consideration.

The Minister claims that this will prevent people on the Waiting List being overtaken unfairly. Presumably this must be a reference to the fact that points for overcrowding will not be automatically granted, but will be at the discretion of the Housing Allocation Committee if the overcrowding results from persons moving in with family, having previously owned and then sold their homes.

The calculation of points for waiting from year three onwards, per se, has nothing to do with whether persons with less waiting time, but with extra points for the condition under which they are living are getting such points fairly or unfairly. These other factors can include things like not having a WC, bathroom, kitchen, and inadequate lighting and ventilation etc.

The fact that the Government has changed the scheme is a clear admission of their failures to deal with the housing needs of Gibraltar and that it has worsened over the years with applicants spending much more time on the Waiting List.

On year four applicants get 1,000 points for waiting, in year five applicants get 1,500 and so on. The effect of this will be that all the top positions in the Waiting List will be given to applicants who have been waiting longer and that to all intents and purposes this will be an over-riding determinant for housing allocation.

In the past Governments have tried to balance the competing claims of those waiting a longer time with those applicants whose applications have been more recent but whose housing conditions have been very bad. This was acknowledged by having a requirement for a two year delay even before the applicant could join the Waiting List proper. It means anyone applying now for housing will have zero chance of being offered re-accommodation, irrespective of how bad his living conditions may be, until they have been a considerable time on the Waiting List.”

Related Articles:

05 August 2005 - Too little, too late, says Opposition, after years of unfulfilled promises

05 August 2005 - Governement introduces significant changes in Housing Scheme

04 August 2005 - Government publishes details of scheme for Waterport Terraces affordable housing project


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