What percentage of homes are rented in my neighbourhood? What’s the average age of buildings? How many empty homes belong to multiple property owners? As many as 67 indicators are now available for the general public to consult via the Barcelona Housing Observatory (OHB) website.
The Barcelona Housing Observatory, backed by the City Council and also formed by the Àrea Metropolitana de Barcelona (AMB), Barcelona Provincial Council and the Government of Catalonia, offers the first benefits of making the city’s housing situation more transparent in order in to improve housing policy.
The new OHB website is an interactive tool, aimed at technical staff, administrations and the general public, and offers a comprehensive and historical vision of the housing stock in Barcelona and its environs. Using a data display, maps of the local area, details on city districts and neighbourhoods, the tool is available for anyone to use, from the general public to specialists, professionals and the administration itself.
The interactive platform includes a display with 63 indicators, grouped together using the following themes:
- Housing stock.
- Construction and renovation.
- Socio-demographic and socio-economic factors.
- Housing market.
- Housing continuity, access and maintenance issues.
- Housing policies.
The indicators included in these themes allow users to consult the following and more:
- Percentage of habitual residences.
- Buildings in poor repair.
- Floor area per person.
- Empty homes belonging to owners of multiple properties.
- Homes built before 1981.
- Energy certification.
- Prices and proportion of tenants.
- Types of owner.
- Differences in rent.
- Homes without central heating.
- Households with single parents, elderly people living alone and long-term unemployed.
The Barcelona Housing Observatory aims to act as a meeting place for local housing policies, a mechanism to help local corporations define and develop their local government measures.
This volume of data, along with the structure and classification of the new OHB tool, will enable municipal governments to fine tune their analyses of the challenges in their municipalities. Cities will be able to share major challenges and important solutions will be needed which go beyond municipal powers, such as a reform to the law on urban rents, setting out longer rental periods and controls on price rises. The OHB can also be of use in showing differences between cities, districts and neighbourhoods.
In a similar vein, Barcelona City Council is backing measures such as the Metropolitan Housing Operator in conjunction with the AMB, and the APROP provisional housing initiative to combat gentrification.
At an aggregate level, OHB data show that between 2014 and 2017 rent prices went up between 24% and 28% in the area metropolitan area, depending on the area. According to the Incasol register the average rent is 900 euros a month, while the most common price published by property websites is 1,300 euros a month. The substantial difference between the two figures can be read as an index for the rental market ceiling.
Either way, 42% of the metropolitan population spends 40% of their income on housing, a figure which exceeds the third which is recommended. The difficulty of accessing and maintaining housing has meant a drop in the emancipation of young people. Today, 27% less young people between the ages of 16 and 29 leave their parents’ home than ten years ago.
The final consequence of the difficulties in the housing market are evictions. Although there has been a slight drop since 2016, the last four years have seen 41,782 cases, affecting 125,000 people.