Crisis shows housing is never a priority

LOOK at the Guernsey Housing Association website and you will see it has 171 people on a waiting list for one-, two- or three-bed accommodation, while the joint States Housing and GHA rented waiting list has 289 eligible households seeking homes.

Since that has not been updated since last November, it is a snapshot only of what is now openly termed Guernsey’s housing crisis as soaring property prices put ownership and even renting out of reach for hundreds of islanders.

Despite links to the ‘joint’ States waiting list, government gives no figures there at all and no indication when an applicant might be successful. Processing the request takes 28 days. If a home does come up, the lucky individual has 48 hours to say yes or no. Crisis, what crisis?

That sums up government response to the housing issue – earmarking land for building without monitoring how many homes were actually constructed, no agreement about how many properties are needed each year, and land-banking developers free to build when it suits them.

And now, the perfect storm of Covid and a population management regime that has anecdotally enabled hundreds or thousands to return to the island or leave the open market and gobble up already-scarce homes and apartments.

Anecdotally, because no official data has been published on housing demand, what is causing the latest spike and what the estimated shortfall is in the island’s accommodation requirement beyond the KPMG review of 2017.

That found a maximum of just less than 1,000 new homes were needed between 2014 and 2021. According to the latest States residential property stock bulletin, some 550 units were created from 2015 to 2020, an implied shortfall that might explain the GHA’s current waiting list.

There is an uncomfortable truth here for those looking to become first-time buyers or even find an affordable flat. Successive States have claimed housing is a priority, but done little to tackle availability or affordability.

With no prospect of a new homes ‘blitz’ for two or three years, Guernsey’s young people are being let down yet again.

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