Islanders second in FIG’s two-tier housing system
A TWO-tier housing system has developed where the quality and standard of government properties reserved for contractors is superior to those reserved for Islanders, said Member of Legislative Assembly Dr. Barry Elsby at Thursday’s meeting of the Assembly.
He said at a recent Housing Committee meeting it was proposed that two accommodation units should be transferred from the contractor pool to the local pool, “as for various reasons they were deemed unsuitable for contractors to live in but obviously OK for the local candidates. If that doesn’t represent a two-tier system then I don’t know what does.”
MLA Elsby emphasised this was not the fault of contractors but had been created within FIG.
He said: “We have two housing lists, namely the contractor pool and those for Islanders. I have said in this house on previous occasions that I believe the quality and standard of properties reserved for contractors is far superior than those reserved for Islanders and yet the rent is calculated using the same formula.
“We seem to see a faster turnaround and renovation of contractors housing than for the local tenants. Some local pool housing has been empty for years awaiting renovation and only very recently have contracts for some of that work been awarded.”
He said the shortage of housing for contractors had led to the government renting 17 properties from the private sector to house them but this had made it even more difficult for Islanders to rent privately, and at a time when no new properties had been built for local tenants.
He said 18 government flats and houses were presently under construction on Sapper Hill; all for the contractor pool: “This at a time when the 12 old cabins built on Murray Heights over 20 years ago as a short term fix for local tenants and meant to last 10 years are deteriorating to such an extent that they need replacing by something more permanent.”
He said: “The Housing Officer reports an increasing number of requests over recent months for emergency housing due to a number of reasons, but including genuine homelessness.”
He said the Housing Officer was working with himself, MLA Mark Pollard and the Director of Public Works on a review of the housing points scheme to try and ensure that the most deserving were accommodated.
He said the policy department had been developing a piece of work to find ways to help people own their own homes and encourage the private sector to build new homes for sale or rent “and how empty houses can be brought into the market.”
They have also looked at an option of selling off some older FIG houses and reinvesting that money into more houses for the local tenants.
Whatever the recommendation from the work there will always be a need for high quality housing for local tenants, said MLA Elsby, “and we will need to address this in the coming months and especially during the budget round.”