There are currently 2,602 people on the waiting list for social accommodation, Minister for Social Accommodation Roderick Galdes told The Malta Independent.
“Nowadays, the waiting list for social accommodation stands at 2,602, which is the lowest figure since 2001. I have worked tirelessly to increase the social accommodation stock through the Nikru biex Nassistu scheme and the construction of 1,700 social accommodation units across in Malta,” the minister said.
This newsroom contacted the Social Accommodation Minister over recent European Statistics on Income and Living Conditions, which show that 17.1% of the Maltese population, equivalent to 82,758 persons, are at risk of poverty. These people are therefore living in households with an income below the at-risk-of-poverty line.
The survey also highlighted that members of single-parent households were noted to be more susceptible to being at risk-of-poverty.
This newsroom contacted the minister to ask for his initial reaction to the survey, and how with the growing number of individuals at risk of poverty could result in an increased need for social housing?
Galdes said that the statistics show that the marginal increase in the proportion of individuals at risk of poverty is mainly due to the significant increase in the median annual income in Malta.
“Furthermore, the rate of persons earning less than half the disposable median income – another international benchmark – has remained stable at 8.7%. The official results also indicate that the proportion of at-risk-families, who have unemployed members or members working limited hours has also decreased from 5.5% to 4.9%.”
Galdes reiterated the statement released by Minister for Social Solidarity Michael Falzon, who explained that the annual disposable income of Maltese and Gozitan families has increased to the record figure of €28,505, an annual increase of €675 or €13 per week.
“Another notable development was the decrease in the number of individuals earning less than €6,000 annually, which went down from 16,500 persons to 14,500 in a single year. This positive finding is in stark contrast to the pre-2013 figure of 36,500 individuals earning less than €6,000 per year.”
He pointed out that the rate of material depravation has also decreased for 8.7% to 8.4%, which is an improvement from the 19.9% in 2013. He said that the waiting list for social accommodation stands at 2,602, the lowest figure from 2001 onwards. “The Ministry for Social Accommodation is also making a huge difference in the lives of more and more vulnerable and at-risk persons through the Sustainable Communities: Housing for Tomorrow,” explained Galdes, which has launched Malta’s first-ever affordable accommodation project, which will be constructed in Fgura.
Galdes spoke about another project which aims to help people to participate fully in the local Private Residential leases market. “The Ministry, in conjunction with the Housing Authority, is sensitive to the needs of Maltese and Gozitan families and individuals as well as our islands’ foreign long-term residents.” He said that he is pleased that with the introduction of the Private Residential Leases Act, over 20,000 lease agreements have been successfully registered with the Housing Authority
“As a Government, we are fully committed towards the social well-being of Maltese and Gozitans, and my Ministry together with the Ministry for the Family, Children’s Rights and Social Solidarity have been in constant dialogue with the representatives of the recent set-up Platform against Homelessness to tackle the social issues emerging in our constantly evolving society.”
Poverty is an important discussion for the First National Housing System in Malta
Most recently the Ministry of Social Accommodation launched the First National Housing System in Malta, which wants to put people at the centre of the national housing system and for families to live with dignity and satisfaction.
“Poverty was an important topic of discussion during the two days of workshops which took place on 5 and 6 August. Poverty, like all other aspects, was tackled in an inter-disciplinary manner and was the main theme in various workshops concerning health, ageing, security of tenure, affordability and alternative housing solutions,” explained Galdes.
He said that participants from different spheres gave their contributions and their feedback is now being gathered and analysed by the Ministry’s policy unit, which shall be following-up on these debates about the future of Malta’s housing sector, whose voices shall directly inform the drafting of the National Housing System.
“The values and aims underpinning the upcoming National Housing System shall be tied intrinsically to the goals and indicators found in both Malta’s National Strategic Policy for Poverty Reduction & For Social Inclusion (2014-2024) and Malta’s Sustainable Development vision for 2050.”
Original article found on The Malta Independent