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Housing for elderly refugees woefully inadequate, MPs told

firemen 02

Elderly people or those with mobility issues often need the help of the fire department to descend to the ground floor because their refugee housing buildings lack an elevator, MPs said on Tuesday.

Speaking to the media after a session of the House refugees committee, chair Nikos Kettiros said the fire department has confirmed they get several calls for assistance from people living in refugee housing projects.

“The fire department gets called to bring down senior citizens or people with mobility issues…sometimes even dead people, if you can imagine that.”

Kettiros called it “inhumane” for people to be effectively trapped in building apartments, and added that if these improvements are further delayed, many elderly refugees will have passed away by the time elevators are installed.

“The government has one and only option: it will either solve the problem, otherwise we will raise a big fuss,” he warned.

Lawmakers have received assurances from the Town Planning Department that some 30 elevators will begin being installed in such buildings by year’s end.

Kettiros said they’ll be closely tracking the situation to ensure the government delivers on its promise.

The committee also discussed the issue of property titles and leases to refugees.

It emerged that of the 25,000 housing units for which titles and leases should be issued, around 9.500 units still lack this paperwork.

A refugee may be living in an apartment for 35 years and still not have title on their property, said Kettiros. That, in turn, doesn’t allow them to – for instance – use a title as collateral for a loan.

MPs learned from the Housing Finance Corporation that it is regulators who do not allow the HFC to accept a lease as a mortgage on such properties.

The committee will be following up on the issue.

 

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