Church commission: ‘access to affordable accommodation is a basic right’

The Justice and Peace Commission said it is concerned for the 'ever-increasing number of individuals and families in Malta' who are unable to access affordable housing

Amy Micallef Decesare
2 October 2017, 1:51pm
Being unable to 'live independently and provide for oneself and one’s family' is 'humiliating and demeaning' said the church
Being unable to 'live independently and provide for oneself and one’s family' is 'humiliating and demeaning' said the church
The “predicament of the ever-increasing number of individuals and families in Malta” who are unable to access affordable housing is a serious cause for concern, the Justice and Peace Commission of the Archdiocese of Malta said today.

In a statement to coincide with World Habitat Day, the commission said that the increase in rent prices over the last two years had led to increased homelessness, poverty and insecurity among the most vulnerable members of the community.

The situation, it said, was “impossible” for those living on minimum wage - which stands at €750 per month - or "even on an average full-time wage”.

The commission said that access to decent, affordable housing was recognised as a universal right and an “indispensable requirement for an individual, to live a life that is fully human”. It insisted that this right was more than just the necessity to have a roof over one’s head, since the home was “the place where a person creates and lives out his or her life,”.

Being unable to live independently and provide for oneself and one’s family was humiliating and demeaning, the statement read.

The commission said that the struggle of those “facing adversity” - including unemployed persons, those with physical or mental illnesses or those who had lost their homes - was often completely “soul-destroying”.

Sheltered accommodation and social housing, such as those run by the Church in Malta, were essential forms of support for those in difficulty, it said, noting however that they should only be “exceptional measures reserved for those who are truly unable to live independently and for as short a time as possible”.

"It is tragic that many shelter residents are condemned to a life of institutionalisation and dependence that can last for long periods of time," the commission said. "And although social housing does aid in the short term, these solutions have a huge impact on our communities, including stigmatisation, more construction in virgin land and an unnatural transformation of the community.”

The Justice and Peace Commission called on the government to ensure that “immediate action is taken” to address the cause and to “undertake serious research on the rental market”. It also insisted that an agreement is reacged that action should be taken with regards to wages, ensuring that workers’ wages are sufficient to live with dignity.

“A country that sacrifices individual rights and wellbeing at the altar of profit is not rich”, the commission said, as it urged the government to use profits which were being generated, as a “source of solutions, for the good of all, particularly the most vulnerable”.