Policymakers realize that social housing in Malta cannot be divorced from the economic, cultural and social realities. They recognized there is a group of people that should occupy the highest spot in the priority lists. An analysis of what has been done in Malta over the past fifty years however clearly indicated that the definition of social priorities was sometimes blurred (Gonzi, 2001). The Malta government also recognized that there is the need to sharpen focus on the social aspects of the housing problem. What is intriguing, however, is that the Housing Authority and the Department of Social Housing admitted no strategy for youth existed (“Report,” JCY, 2003).
Housing in Malta is one of the major problems faced by both citizens and government. The number of households exceeded the number of dwellings available, at least at reasonable prices. The gap between the price of a decent accommodation and the costs that could be afforded by the majority of the population is not simply significant, but wide enough to incur heavy burdens on many citizens, and consequently the government (Tabone, 2001). Consequently it is very easy to confuse social housing with the general housing problem with the danger of excluding the most needy.
Contemporary housing issues
The name 'social policy' is used to apply first, to the policies which governments use for welfare and social protection; second, to the ways in which welfare is developed in a society, and; third, to the academic study of the subject (“An Introduction,” 2007).
"An Introduction," 2007). In the first sense, social policy is particularly concerned with social services and the welfare state. In the second broader sense, it stands for a range of issues extending far beyond the actions of government - the means by which welfare is promoted, and the social and economic conditions which shape the development of welfare. This paper takes on the first meaning.
Confusion of terms. Housing Policy is defined in terms of measures designed to modify the quantity, quality, price, ownership and control of housing, where it should aim at providing a decent house for all, at a price within one's means, including a fairer choice between owning a home or renting one, and fairness between one citizen and another in receiving help towards housing (Malpass & Murie, 1999:7). According to Hill (2000: 159), social housing needs a narrower definition in that, not every case in need of accommodation is to be considered 'a social housing case.' Tabone (2001), however, thinks housing in Malta is more a matter of public policy than of social policy. Social policy, he said, should address those cases whose housing needs arise from social problems or are connected with social problems. Housing affordability should be addressed separately from that of social housing, he said.
Deficiencies within existing housing policy. The National Report (2003: 137-138) highlighted a number of deficiencies within existing housing policy and provision. One is that a special provision certainly needs to be made in respect of the small but vulnerable 15-17 year-old age group. The potential for multi-occupancy tenancies and foyer schemes needs to be explored. It is particularly crucial that this age group have access to appropriate support and advice in such areas as education, training and employment. Some, whose departure from the parental home may have been precipitated by family problems, might also require support from social services ("Report," JCY, 2003).
Lack of regular maintenance. As reported by Gonzi (2001), social housing in Malta is covered by the Housing Department, the Housing Authority, the Housing