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President calls for easier access to housing benefits

Anastasiades chairing the meeting on Tuesday

President Nicos Anastasiades on Tuesday gave instructions for an info centre from where the public can learn about the government’s housing policy and who can benefit from it to be set up.

The announcement was made after a meeting presided over by Anastasiades to assess the first six months since the government policy on affordable housing was implemented.

The president also gave instructions to a committee consisted by the ministers of interior, finance and labour to look into possible problems and present within six months a proposal on how to improve the policy.

The meeting highlighted the successful implementation of a number of programmes running as part of the policy, including affordable housing and rent subsidies, while it emerged that some aspects needed improvement.

Interior Minister Nicos Nouris said some minor changes were necessary to improve the ability of interested people to file applications and improve the aid offered.

“There is an issue with rent in our country today, so we are interested in creating those conditions so that rent is truly affordable,” Nouris said.

This would be achieved without creating any distortions to the economy, he said.

The aim, he added, would be to construct new housing units to achieve the goal of affordable rent to the largest possible extent.

The minister also said that some problems have been discovered as regards the affordable housing scheme that make the construction of such houses to benefit beneficiaries difficult since the numbers of the houses to be erected will be small.

“We will study these parameters and I am certain that very soon we will be in a position to make announcements,” he said.

The minister also refuted the position that the Estia mortgage relief scheme has failed, arguing that 5,600 applications have been filed.

Despite that the government had announced it expected around 15,000 application, Nouris said that the number of applications filed was “extremely satisfactory” since it was manageable.

Edek said later in the day that it proposed to the competent sate services to use apartment buildings and hotels that do not currently operate to house homeless people, while also erecting prefabricated homes for the homeless on state land.

The party also suggests that the state land development corporation Koag sell young couples houses at cost price and rent houses at very low prices to families in vulnerable groups. It also called for funding for restoration of residences in rural areas to encourage the return of residents to those areas.

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