Sociologist, former Graffitti activist appointed Affordable Housing chairperson

Dr Mary Grace Vella is a sociologist, lecturer and a former probation officer. She has been a long-standing activist with Moviment Graffitti and other non-governmental organisations which actively campaign for more social justice and environmental protection.

Dr. Mary Grace Vella
Dr. Mary Grace Vella

The Ministry for Social Accommodation has appointed Dr Mary Grace Vella as chairperson of the Affordable Housing Board.

In a statement released to mark the appointment, the ministry said Vella will continue "the priceless work carried out within the board by the late Joe Bartolo and will salute his memory by working towards the materialisation of the concept of affordable housing in our country."

Vella started her career in the public sector as a probation officer at the Corradino Correctional Facility and served as a social inclusion officer within the Ministry for Social Politics. SHe currently lectures within the Systems of Knowledge Department at the Junior College and is also a visiting lecturer at the Faculty of Arts and the Faculty of Social Well-being at the University of Malta.

She is also a contributor to the Centre for Labour Studies and offers technical consultancy services on poverty reduction and social exclusion issues to the Ministry of Family, Children’s Rights and Social Solidarity.

Vella has been a long-standing activist with Moviment Graffitti and other non-governmental organisations which actively campaign for more social justice and environmental protection. She also forms part of the National Observatory for Living with Dignity within the President’s Foundation for the Well-being of Society.

She graduated in 1998 with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and subsequently obtained a Diploma in Probation Services and further qualifications at Masters’ level in Sociology, Human Rights and Democratisation. In 2013, she obtained her Doctorate in Political Sciences from the Department of Sociology at the University of Malta.

Minister for Social Accommodation Roderick Galdes remarked that, “Dr Vella, despite her excellent academic qualifications, has also distinguished herself as a person who excels in the practical side of her work. She is a competent individual with a profile which fully reflects the direction which I, as Minister, have taken to address the housing challenges this country is facing, which involves the practical work required to understand the realities of different strata of society whilst applying detailed research and academic studies to our evidenced-based policy decisions. In fact, Dr Vella shall be applying this principle to the work she shall be carrying out, through the experience she obtained when frequenting various social circles coupled with her academic qualifications.”

He added that Vella would be working "hand in hand" with the ministry to ensure that the third sector of housing in our country, affordable housing, bears the intended fruits for the benefit of Malta's families.

Chief Executive Officer of the Housing Authority Leonid Mckay said that, the appointment “shows a concrete commitment towards the implementation of the affordable housing policy."

McKay said Vella was the ideal person to help continue realising the dream of Joe Bartolo, who had devised a model of affordable housing which was both self-financed and non-profit. "A project which is testament to the State’s commitment to providing not only social accommodation but to also ensure the right to decent, adequate and affordable housing to different strata of society. I reiterate that the State should not solely act in the interests of the most vulnerable layers of society but should also help those whose income does not allow them to meet the prevalent market rates,” he said.