Prime Minister Joseph Muscat stressed earlier this morning that “the biggest social housing investment in a quarter of a century”, in the form of 500 new social housing units to be spread over 22 different localities will be run by a “new mentality”, helping those “truly in need”.
He announced that when families receive their house keys from the Housing Authority, this will be just “the beginning of a process”, rather than the end, which is how things work currently.
Muscat was speaking at a political activity in Mgarr, and took the opportunity to remind the audience of 800 new units which have already been announced, bringing up the total to 1,300 social housing units to be built.
The investment, worth some €50 million, will be on land available for development and should not touch on Outside Development Zone boundaries, Muscat said.
Funding will come from the controversial Individual Investor Program, where Muscat could not help taking a swipe at the Opposition for continuously criticising the programme.
He added that people who genuinely need social housing should not be housed altogether as this could develop into troublesome situations and ghettos. Muscat said this is why the government chose to spread out the social housing development to so many locations.
Muscat had harsh words for the “old” mentality, which he said had been employed by both Nationalist and Labour governments of the past, where people expected to be handed a social housing unit quite easily, as though it was some form of gift.
A social worker will be assigned, where they will monitor families’ progress. Muscat said the idea is to help families improve from their vulnerable situation and help them to stand on their own two feet.
He spoke extensively of protecting the investment of “80% of Maltese who are home owners” and not giving the wrong impression that some are gifted a social housing unit while others must make big sacrifices when entering into a home loan to secure a property.
Being careful not to be too heavy handed with rental market regulation, and propping up social housing units, are the other main elements of the balancing exercise which the government has embarked on, he told the audience.
Today’s speech comes in the wake of recent criticism by the Opposition, which has accused the government of doing nothing about the unaffordability of buying or renting a home in today’s property market.