Action on Poverty (AOP) joins call for housing justice

Gibraltar Chronicle Campaign ad 14/3/19

‘Relative poverty on a number of levels is real enough in Gibraltar, however inconvenient that may be for some to acknowledge. And no amount of institutional denial by those in authority will change the persistent facts. Only effective social policies can bring that about. And that will happen when we care enough,’ Action on Poverty (AOP) Spokesman, Felix Alvarez,  said in a communique today.

‘Housing is one of the most common areas where overall relative poverty is reflected. This is true in most western societies, and we in Gibraltar are no exception.’

‘And because solidarity with others on questions of justice is a mainstay of our thinking, it is only natural that AOP welcomes Action for Housing’s initiative, and adds its voice to and shares its dismay at the failure by Government to allocate land for the construction of Government flats in the Eastside; housing for rental which could go to alleviate the situation of a number of people in our community who cannot afford what is to them, let’s face it, expensive ‘affordable housing.

‘Governments have followed the so-called ‘affordable’ model for a good number of years, and yet it is a fact that not everyone is able to meet the demanding conditions required for high (or even modest) mortgages, whilst others in any case have a preference for rental arrangements instead.

‘Additionally, Gibraltar has been inundated with increasingly dense high-cost housing at prime sites which has favoured a culture of exclusivity in our midst which has slowly shut out many  working people from some of the more desirable locations and views in Gibraltar; thus altering the fibre of our traditional community long-term. This has created an imbalance of which many are only too painfully aware.

‘Out of respect for and recognition of the extraordinary circumstances that have prevailed politically and institutionally over the past seven months as a result of the chain reaction from both Brexit and Covid-19, AOP has responsibly held its public work in abeyance. Yet let there be no doubt that the AOP Committee is very much awake. And the public can expect to see us in full motion once again; and what’s more, expanding and widening our public campaign.

‘While Government appears to have been drip-feeding possible moves towards cutting back on a number of services and social policies for some time prior to Brexit and Covid-19, the new circumstances following these situations have provided opportunities for what was already pre-existing government thinking to pretend a new veneer to an old impulse.

‘AOP has therefore worked, in the interim, to strengthen, reinforce and widen its civil society initiatives to seek not only that housing justice be done, but that the least favoured in our society are placed at the centre of the political agenda of all the Parties, no matter how uncomfortable some may feel,’ the statement ended.