Akel general secretary Stefanos Stefanou on Tuesday addressed the pressing issue of housing affordability in Limassol, noting that the city’s homeownership and rental costs are much more pronounced compared to the rest of Cyprus.
According to Eurostat data, he noted, property prices and rents in Limassol have been skyrocketing since 2015, with few signs of slowing down.
“The mismanagement of Cyprus’ so-called investment programme, which the previous government turned into a tool for golden passports, has been identified as a crucial factor for this problem by the European Statistical Service,” Stefanou said.
“Additionally, the pandemic, and later the war, further exacerbated the situation, resulting in limited access to affordable and quality housing in Limassol and Cyprus as a whole,” he added, noting that “the lack of substantial investment in socially-oriented housing policies by the previous government was also highlighted”.
Stefanou also emphasised that the “majority of Cypriot society, especially the younger generation, is struggling to achieve what was once considered almost a guarantee, owning their own homes”.
“Soaring prices, increasing interest rates, rising construction costs, and stagnant wages have made homeownership an elusive dream for many,” Stefanou stated.
He went on to say that the demand for decent housing is high, but the supply is limited, and the conditions for housing financing are inaccessible and impractical for a significant portion of the population.
Moreover, he noted that the recent increase in the number of students in Limassol has further compounded the issue.
Stefanou called for the planning of a comprehensive housing policy by the government, with a strategic focus on assisting the middle class, young couples, and vulnerable groups in acquiring housing.
He stressed the need for a well-structured and inclusive policy that addresses the current challenges and needs.
“Akel has put forward specific and feasible proposals for housing, particularly in relation to Limassol, where a massive housing problem has emerged,” he said.
“However, their implementation depends not only on political will but also on the initiation of collaboration between the central government and local authorities to address these challenges,” he added.
Among the party’s proposals for Limassol are the coordination among all relevant stakeholders, including the government, the Limassol Municipality, and the Housing Finance Corporation, for the construction of 600 residences in the Ayios Nicolaos and Ayios Ioannis areas.
Akel also called for the utilisation of state-owned land beyond the already-allocated area in the Veregaria Settlement in Kato Polemidia, in collaboration with the government, local authorities, and the Housing Finance Corporation.
“We also call for swift progress, without delays, in the construction of 500 student dormitories in the Veregaria Settlement in Polemidia,” he said.
“According to timelines, the Cyprus University of Technology is ready to commence construction by 2024,” he added.
Stefanou concluded the party’s statement by reiterating Akel’s commitment to addressing the housing crisis in Limassol and across Cyprus.
He urged the government to prioritise housing policies that will provide accessible and affordable housing options which can effectively meet the needs of the population.