Juan Fernández is one of the beneficiaries of the public housing stock. He has been living in a social rental flat on Passeig de Santa Coloma in the Sant Andreu district for three years now. A few years ago, he was in a very difficult social and economic situation so, on the advice of a friend, he put in an application for social housing.
Juan pays €540 a month for his flat, although there are cheaper social flats for rent. He says the main guarantee is being able to get decent accommodation at an affordable rent and, above all, it brings stability, knowing he can stay there for many years.
He thinks that the community needs to be more involved in housing policies and to work with institutions such as the Municipal Housing Trust and the Barcelona Housing Consortium on issues such as building maintenance and the setting up of related and nearby services.
“I think that there ought to be more investment in the housing stock so families and young people can get access to this type of rent, because it benefits the city and its surroundings”, he says. In his opinion, the supply is not enough to cover the current social demand.
As regards future improvements, Juan hopes new infrastructures will be set up around the building where he lives to boost activity in the area, which is a long way from the shops and other services.
Increasing public rental flats to guarantee the right to housing
Until recently, the Barcelona Municipal Housing Trust had been pushing for the construction of between 250 and 300 flats a year. But with the new 2016-2025 Right to Housing Plan, Barcelona City Council plans to add nearly 1,000 flats a year to the housing stock by building a total of 8,854 flats, 80% of them social rentals.
The Barcelona City Council Housing Manager, Javier Burón, has acknowledged that “housing needs cannot wait”. So, in response to today’s emergency housing situation, the City Council is now working to reach agreements with the banks and acquire low-cost flats.
The Council has also launched the campaign “You’ve got the key” to mobilise flats in the hands of small and big property owners. So far, the city government has managed to mobilise 650 flats belonging to small owners for the social rental pool and 250 via the Hàbitat3 Foundation.
At the moment, the Municipal Housing Trust manages nearly 6,000 public rental flats. The purpose of this public stock is to offer access to a decent home at below market prices, which continue to rise and prevent many families from having somewhere to live in the city.
Opting for a public housing stock at social and affordable rents
Barcelona City Council has opted to defend, promote and guarantee the right to housing. Consequently, the new 2016-2025 Right to Housing Plan pursues various strategies to prevent evictions, make housing accessible, foster habitable households through renovation and encourage debate on such key issues as regulating rents.
One of the main housing actions that City Council envisages is to increase the public housing stock available at affordable rents. This increase involves buying housing and building new properties, as well as collaborating with small and big property owners who would like to put their flats in the Rental Housing Pool.
It is also important to bear in mind the appearance of new alternative housing projects which are being promoted in collaboration with promoters such as cooperatives, creating new limited profit or non-profit tenure models.
The common goal is to focus on the expansion of the social rental housing stock, in response to the growing demand for affordable housing in the city.