Work to transform abandoned and derelict buildings across the island into modern social housing accommodation is well underway, the government said on Monday.

Addressing a press conference outside one such property along a sleepy street in Vittoriosa, Infrastructure Minister Ian Borg said 33 government-owned buildings had recently been handed over to the Housing Authority to be renovated and turned into social housing.

A preliminary review of four of these properties, he said, had indicated how they could be developed into 11 housing units.

“This sort of initiative serves, in my opinion, multiple purposes, providing social housing directly in the community where it is needed most, upgrading buildings that could be causing damage to third parties and injecting life into areas that could do with some help,” Dr Borg told reporters.

Infrastructure Minister Ian Borg (second from right) outside the Birgu property being transformed into social housing.Infrastructure Minister Ian Borg (second from right) outside the Birgu property being transformed into social housing.

The provision of social housing has been a hot-button issue for the Labour administration, with critics lamenting government lethargy.

Read:Social housing is not something that should be inherited - Muscat

Just last week Prime Minister Joseph Muscat weighed in on the subject when he announced that the number of social housing units being financed through the sale of passports would be doubled to 1,000.

Meanwhile, Dr Borg said that between 2017 and last year, the Housing Authority had been handed around 516 worth of units in government property by the Lands Authority.

In deciding to turn these properties into social accommodation, the government was forgoing the funds that lucrative revenues that it could make were it to sell the buildings instead. 

Roderick Galdes, Parliamentary Secretary for Housing, said most of the properties being turned into social accommodation had been abandoned for decades. 

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