Housing & Poverty In Malta With A Focus On The Southern Harbour Region


Bernard Mallia


Housing & Poverty In Malta was a study conducted in 2003 and 2004 in relation to the link between poverty and housing affordability in Malta. The study starts with a literature review which sets out the findings that had already been made in the field. It also introduces the concept of the Housing Affordability Index (HAI) to distinguish between real and capricious affordability issues.  It then analyses the causes and the nature of the voluminous vacant housing stock in the Maltese Islands, focusing particularly on the Southern Harbour Region while investigating the links that there might be between such vacant housing and the incidence of poverty. Affordability analyses are carried out and the link between housing prices and poverty is also investigated inasmuch as the data allows it.

In doing this, definitional issues are first raised followed by some affordability calculations and considerations. The findings are quite alarming and point to a hidden but nevertheless real problem that Malta will eventually have to come to terms with. We have found evidence that 7,731 households are inadequately housed and that 16% of Malta’s population lives below the poverty line, which translates into about 19,000 people. This is only expected to get worse as time goes by, wages stagnate due to international competition and the cost of living keeps going up due to both domestic and international economic factors.

The findings further point to a link between a growing stock of vacant housing, poverty and urban degeneration. Some of the channels through which this could be taking place are identified. Although the findings of this paper cannot be taken to be conclusive given that a more comprehensive and better-funded study would be required, we do set out the major policy questions that any better-funded subsequent studies in this area might want to look at, as well as policy recommendations based on our preliminary findings in this area.