Sacramento: “Unprecedented Track Record In Housing”

GSLP-Liberal candidate Samantha Sacramento has pledged to “break the back” of the Housing List in the next four years with the construction of more affordable homes, flats for the elderly and properties for rental.

“Housing is probably the most important issue for the majority of people in Gibraltar. For that reason, it is one of the fundamental cornerstone of our policies in the GSLP / Liberal Alliance and our track record in delivering housing at every level when in Government is unprecedented and unequalled. In this term we will build more 50/50 homes and we will build 500 units for rental,” she said.

Samantha Sacramento added: “Our plan is carefully designed to ensure that we provide housing at every level, whether it is the construction of affordable homes, purpose built flats for the elderly or increasing the provision and availability of rental housing stock for those who cannot afford to buy – including building more rental stock.”

“Providing affordable housing to a high standard is a top priority for us. Because of the way that we allocate, this also has a beneficial consequence on the housing waiting lists.

“We have already delivered on two estates of affordable housing at Beach View Terraces and Mons Calpe Mews – this was almost 1,000 affordable homes. We have also already announced a further three new estates which will provide more 1,300 more homes; Hassan Centenary Terraces, which is already being sold, and Bob Peliza Mews and Chatham Views, the deadline for applications for these two closed last week and we will start calling applicants to purchase as soon as all applications have been verified.

“We know that there is great demand for affordable housing and that is why if we are re-elected into Government, we have another exciting project in our manifesto at the Queen’s Housing development which will not just be a great housing project but will be set by right next to our new park at Grand Parade.

“There is a great demand in our community for affordable housing and that is why we continue to provide it. We of course will also continue to provide housing for those who cannot afford to buy.

“Remember that the previous Government gave priority in allocation of affordable housing to those who could pay more, so if for example, you could purchase at 100% you would have priority in allocation over someone who couldn’t.

“We are a socialist Government and we will not give priority to those who can pay more, AS THE GSD DID, we will be fairer than that.

“Our priority in allocation will first be given to applicants who currently live in a Government rental property, and who will release this back to stock. We have had considerable interest by tenants and many have already committed to buy at Hassan Centenary Terraces and I know that more have applied for the other estates. This means that by making this the top priority, instead of offering affordable housing to those in our community with more money, we get more rental housing coming back to our stock so that we have more homes to offer those on the rental list.

“Our second priority in allocation for affordable housing, is for those who are already on the housing waiting list. So, the more homes we build, and the more homes that we can offer to those on the waiting list, the less number of people who will remain on that waiting list. This means that those who cannot afford to buy and remain on the housing waiting list, will have more rental flats available to them and the lists will move faster.

“One of the best things that we can do is construct purpose built homes for the elderly, not only is this fantastic because it gives our elderly citizens a much greater quality of life and a community feel, but it also allows them to live independently for longer, overall this makes everyone very happy.

“We have already built two blocks for the elderly at Charles Bruzon House and Sea Master Lodge and everyone loves them. We will repeat the Sea Master Lodge model by building these blocks within affordable housing estates giving the option of residents to be closer to family members, especially their grandchildren, and we have already announced 2 new blocks for the elderly at BPM and CV.

“We have a further wonderful project for the elderly as part of the development of the site of the Old Queen’s Cinema as well, a site that will also have provision for our old time dancing clubs and an Art House Cinema.

“All in all, that gives us a total of almost 400 purpose built rental flats for the elderly. That in itself is the same size as an estate. In this term, we will also develop for general rental too.

“The important thing about building these rental homes for the elderly is that, the majority of those who will live in them will give up Government rental homes, so in the majority of cases, for every rental flat for the elderly that we build, we get a flat back to the rental stock. This is the best way to provide for everyone all round when building for our rental stock and is also the best value for money for the tax payer.

“Again, the arithmetic is clear, we are providing more rental housing stock for those on the waiting list who are unable to afford to buy. These figures prove that we do not just build affordable housing, our housing waiting lists move faster than ever before, that means that we do more than anyone else for those on the waiting list who cannot afford to buy.”

Samantha Sacramento concluded: “We have been very ambitious in our housing plans, and the construction of affordable housing has made all the difference. I am confident that our plans will break the back of the housing waiting list and solve the housing problem. If we don’t, then we have also given a cast iron commitment in our manifesto to further build for rental housing. We are unequivocal in this commitment, if the need is there, we will do it.

Fabian Picardo the leader of the GSLP Liberals said: “As a party we have an unprecedented track record when in Government and our investment in housing is an important part of how we are building his community. This is the Government who puts our people first. To us everyone matters. Housing matters to you so housing matters to us. That is why we will build 500 more rental homes – not just for pensioners, also for general rental. And we will build more affordable homes also. By the end of this term, we will have completely tamed the housing waiting list. Success is round the corner if the electorate stick with the GSLP Liberals.”

MEANS TESTING “OPEN TO ABUSE”

Mr Picardo, in answer to questions, rejected the GSD’s proposals to implement means testing for rental housing as unworkable in practice and open to abuse by people who lie about their real incomes.

He explained: “What I will not tolerate is that we should put in place a system which allows the elite to lie and take an advantage and then makes those who are hard-working middle class or working class people suffer as a result of their inability to be able to afford expensive accountants to get them round the system.”

Mr Picardo added that current market forces ensure that those who can afford to buy want to buy: “The best means test we can put in is to put something that’s available to purchase because those who can purchase will do so.”

Pics below: Planned developments at Hassan Centenary Terraces, Chatham Views and old Queen's Cinema site.