HOUSING FOR ALL
Gibraltar’s housing system is in a state of crisis. While some are able to make the most of high-end luxury developments and others manage to enter the co-ownership schemes, many others struggle to find anywhere to live at all. Some citizens feel condemned by society to live in substandard housing or to leave Gibraltar altogether – a heart-breaking decision for many. Meanwhile properties around Gibraltar lie empty, some dilapidated, their owners either struggling to find ways to return them to decent living conditions or use them as shelters for their wealth. A greater scandal even than this, are the numbers of empty government-owned properties; scandalous while there are almost 1,000 households on lists waiting for homes, and many more unable to enter the housing list as they do not meet current eligibility criteria.
Together Gibraltar’s Housing Policy is founded on our vision that housing is more than just concrete and steel buildings. Housing is the very foundation on which people can build their own happy, healthy and fulfilling lives. Housing represents bedrock of success and cohesion for our diverse and inclusive community. Appropriate housing comes in many forms, through various types of ownerships and tenancies, but above all it is of good quality and serves the purpose to provide homes for the whole community. Together Gibraltar believes that housing is all about:
The shortage of genuinely affordable homes in Gibraltar inflates house prices beyond the reach of many families. The problem is exacerbated by the misuse of properties and homes lying empty or in a state of disrepair as a result of mismanagement or a lack of funding.
Together Gibraltar will actively address the problems of quality and quantity, type and tenures to increase the supply of housing. We will:
Review and modernise the legislative framework under which the housing system operates to break down barriers and ensure the proper functioning of the housing market, private sector rental system, and social housing sector.
Develop a broader range of tenure and landlord types to facilitate greater choice of homes for our community, including creating the means to set up non-governmental, non-profit social housing landlords that will also provide affordable homes for our community
Use tax incentives, the rates system and subsidies to encourage land and property owners to release new homes into the housing stock; we will also use these mechanisms to encourage property owners to let their empty properties swiftly and in good condition.
Increase the supply of decent housing at a much broader range of prices so that more people find it easier to rent or buy a home. We will do this through government building and renovation projects as well as working with the private sector and new social housing sector landlords
Ensure that property provided through government subsidies (“affordable” housing) cannot be used for property speculation through introducing better controls on resale – the purpose of these are to provide much-needed home and not as a means of wealth generation
Ensure that housing in general and in particular low-cost rental housing and specialist housing for vulnerable groups is given appropriate priority in Gibraltar’s new Development Plan to ensure the most efficient, sustainable and effective use of land.
Make sure that the planning system takes into consideration the mitigation of government defined housing need when deciding on planning applications.
Improve standards in the housing stock across Gibraltar, both in the private sector and in government-owned housing, liaising closely with private landlords to phase out over time pre-war rent controls with sensitivity to the needs of sitting tenants.
Reduce the numbers of empty homes throughout Gibraltar.
Reduce recognised abuses of the housing systems such as illegal subletting of government homes and the letting of property privately without declaring income for tax purposes.
Build homes for the most vulnerable groups and those in the greatest housing need in our society, that are truly affordable for those who are at the lowest end of the income spectrum.
Develop specialist housing projects that are effective in meeting specialist needs, for example, semi-independent homes for rehabilitated young offenders; hybrid homes for returning university students at the start of their careers; supported housing for the very vulnerable; half-way homes for recovering addicts; temporary homes for those who need immediate shelter.
Ensure that better and more sustainable use is made of Gibraltar’s overall housing stock through effective maintenance programmes.
Deliver a high standard of housing services to all our people
People all need decent homes. A home is far more than just a roof or shelter - sleeping on a friend’s floor is not having a home; commuting to Spain and pretending to have an address in Gibraltar is not having a home in your homeland. The anxiety and social stress of housing difficulties is all-consuming and devastating to individuals, their families and the wider community. Together Gibraltar will focus on discovering and defining in detail all the issues related to housing needs in our community, from homelessness to the needs of the elderly, from the changing needs of changing households to the needs of those whose physical or neurodiverse abilities require particular building types. We will put the needs of our people at the heart of all our housing related activities. Together Gibraltar will:
Carry out a full review of housing need so that we can make truly informed decisions on housing provision, which means that tax-payers’ money is spent in the most effective manner to help people who need it most.
Review the legislative framework so that government is able to intervene meaningfully and promptly to prevent and address homelessness.
Develop an effective strategy and process for providing appropriate support, assistance and suitable homes for the homeless.
Rework the housing allocation system so that the most effective use is made of government owned housing to meet the needs of the most vulnerable by using robust assessment processes, applying coherent eligibility criteria which will include means testing.
Ensure that government housing is managed and maintained effectively and with utmost efficiency, the service fully accountable and transparent. This includes ensuring that rents are paid, properties are not sublet or left vacant, succession rights are regulated and that tenancy conditions are met and enforced.
Provide integrated support for the most vulnerable households and families who cannot access housing to meet their needs. This includes integrated working with other services to provide support for vulnerable groups such as young adults leaving care, juveniles leaving prison, divorced parents wanting greater involvement with their children, Gibraltarians with neurodiverse conditions, the sick and sufferers of substance addiction.
Facilitate greater mobility from one housing type to another so that changing needs can be met through a range of housing options.
Improve the health and well-being of our people through the provision of appropriate housing, the delivery of quality housing services and the efficient management and maintenance of government-owned stock.
Improve the life outcomes for every person through ensuring equality of access to quality housing services that address their unique, individual needs.
Engage people through meaningful consultation and participation in the delivery of housing services.
Without decent homes, in variety of tenures and types our community cannot grow and develop. Dysfunctional housing systems result in the creation of artificial neighbourhoods which take decades to develop into communities. Gibraltar has a wonderful community only poorly served by its physical infrastructure and as the basic foundation of that community - its homes - degenerate for so many, our community is in danger of fracturing. Together Gibraltar is wholeheartedly committed to building capacity within our community, to building strong, cohesive, supportive neighbourhoods where people are inspired to tap into their individual potential. We want our communities to enjoy the best outcomes for their own lives, and we understand how decent homes are the bedrock on which strong communities are built.
Together Gibraltar will:
Build communities through engagement in the development of new homes and refurbishments or regenerations. We will seek to ensure that the community has a meaningful say on how its local neighbourhood is to evolve.
Improve neighbourhoods through development or redevelopment with quality, well-designed, fully sustainable homes, within beautiful, garden-focused areas that communities can enjoy to live, work and relax in.
Ensure that everyone is treated in a fair and just manner in the spirit of diversity and inclusivity. We will strengthen the powers of the Ombudsman and set up appropriate complaints systems to ensure that members of our community feel empowered to speak up with the expectation of receiving respectful and fully investigated responses.
Build community-led partnerships in local neighbourhoods that will work together to champion opportunities for the community to live, work, relax and enjoy life together. We will especially, with a particular focus on ensuring that the housing stock, both government and private, is properly maintained to a good standard.
Work in integrated teams with other departments to ensure that sustainable transport links are available and accessible to wherever people live.
Work in integrated teams with other departments to develop community projects that focus on creating amenity areas such as garden projects, green walls and patio gardens in order to help develop a greater sense of engagement and mutual support.
Ensure the delivery of prompt integrated interventions to support those vulnerable members of the community who most need support.
Together Gibraltar’s vision for housing means building better opportunities for more fulfilling lives for every person in our community.