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Sacramento sets out housing plans

Sacramento sets out housing plans

A total of 1,500 new affordable homes will be built in Gibraltar, Housing Minister Samantha Sacramento said in her budget speech.

The new homes will be built in the Eastside, the Waterport and Europort Avenue areas, and should be ready to move into by 2021.

The allocation process will differ with these new homes, and according to Ms Sacramento, “the new priorities will make the process fairer to all”. Priority will be given to those living in government rental properties, followed by those on the Housing Department waiting list.

“There will be no room for abuse or speculation for resale for profit,” Ms Sacramento said.

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The government will ensure the properties are exclusively for owner occupation at all times, and there will be control on who is eligible to purchase resales of these homes.

She said properties will be sold under “stricter” underlease terms.

Rental Properties
Ms Sacramento said home ownership, by way of co-ownership of affordable housing, has alleviated the rental housing problem in Gibraltar, but the government is committed to providing further rental stock.

There will be more purpose-built accommodation for the elderly, and they are looking into the optimum location to build this, Ms Sacramento said.

She added: “When allocation priority is given to those on the pensioner exchange list, it means that for every flat built and allocated to existing tenants, we recover a larger rental property.”

Ms Sacramento said there is a great demand for housing for the elderly, and the Housing Department is currently reviewing its policies to improve the allocation process.

Ms Sacramento said it would be “unfair to allow to proceed with the further dissipation of rental stock”, adding that under the GSD administration 181 pre-war rental homes were sold.

The scheme will be stopped, and in order to redress this lost stock, those who purchased them will be given the opportunity to sell them back to the government, Ms Sacramento said.

Arrears
Ms Sacramento said 80% of arrears were inherited by the GSD administration, and it grew to £6million before the government commenced recovery. She said there has been a reduction by 20% and the balance was reduced by £1.2million.

She said people have been given every opportunity to pay, and said: “I would rather that tenant spent money on paying the arrears and not on legal costs.”

The number of households that owed rent has reduced by 38% from 2474 to 1543 households, Ms Sacramento added.

Equality
As Minister for Equality, Ms Sacramento said her department’s “greatest success” is the Disability Act, adding that this new legislation will serve to change the lives of people with disabilities.

The Disability Act endorses these rights by ensuring that public bodies and those discharging public duties, take account the inclusion of people with disabilities on an equal basis to others.

In addition, the government has also introduced Part R of the Building Regulations that make physical environments accessible.

Gender Equality
The mentorship programme for women is one of the many strategies developed to help close the gender pay gap and inspire women to achieve their best in their workplace and help them aspire for leadership roles, Ms Sacramento said.

Domestic abuse is a big concern, and a new national strategy is being rolled out intended to eradicate domestic abuse in Gibraltar and provide support for both victims and perpetrators and their families.

On the issue of abortion, Ms Sacramento said the government is giving this matter very careful consideration.
She added: “While we consider what we will do in relation to the act of abortion itself, what is clear is that our priority must be that abortions and the decision to consider them must be a last resort and that those women considering them need to be fully supported and aware of all their options.”

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