Police officers with more than seven years of service have been invited to apply for temporary housing from government-owned buildings in Malé and the capital city’s suburbs.
According to amendments brought on Monday to police housing regulations, applicants will be awarded points based on an interview as well as their rank, marital status, number of children, and years of service.
The housing units will be offered from the Badeyri Koshi area in Malé and police flats in the suburbs Hulhumalé and Vilimalé.
“These are flats that have been cleared out for different reasons such as the retirement of an officer. Most of the permanent housing will be provided in Hulhumalé,” a police spokesman told the Maldives Independent.
Officers who have their own homes can still apply for the temporary housing subject to the deduction of points.
The move follows discontent within the police force over delays in depositing wages for January as well as the finance ministry’s refusal to approve hiked living allowances. Salaries were given five days after the normal payday.
The lack of affordable housing is one of the most pressing social issues facing the Maldives with more than 38 percent of the country’s 338,000-strong population crammed into 26,000 households in the densely-packed capital.
As a key campaign pledge, the current administration is developing an urban centre on the reclaimed island of Hulhumalé near the capital. In April last year, the government signed contracts with five foreign companies to build 15,000 social housing units there by 2018.
Last month, the government signed an agreement worth US$41 million with Amin Construction to build 400 housing units for government employees in Hulhumalé.
According to the Housing Development Corporation – a state-owned company tasked with developing Hulhumalé – three 14-storey buildings with 402 one- and four-bedroom apartments will be built under the 26-month ‘Hiyaavahi Housing’ project.
Both civil servants and staff at state-owned enterprises will be eligible to apply for the flats, HDC Managing Director Mohamed Saiman said at the contract signing ceremony on January 19.
But government employees with a long history of service “who are in need of housing” will be prioritised, Saiman said.
Successful applicants would have to secure a personal housing loan and pay interest.
Some 266 winners of flats under a previous government’s social housing programme were meanwhile told in January to either pay MVR2 million (US$130,000) upfront or obtain home loans with a down payment of at least MVR400,000 (US$25,940), a price out of reach for middle or low-income families.
Saiman did not reveal the cost of the flats for government employees, but promised that it would be substantially cheaper than private housing in the Malé area. The price will be revealed in five months, he said.
The value of the contract awarded to Amin suggests that the cost of a flat exceeds US$100,000.
Amin Construction, one of the largest real estate companies in the Maldives, was reportedly awarded the project based on its track record despite interest expressed by foreign companies.
In September 2015, the company was awarded a plot in Malé for the construction of 90 luxury flats, of which 18 will belong to the government.
The HDC has meanwhile awarded several development projects in Hulhumalé in recent months, including a project to establish sewerage and clean water systems in the 240 hectares reclaimed in early 2015.
In addition to several commercial housing projects, contracts have also been handed out to build a cinema, a manufacturing factory, and four futsal stadiums.