The Full City Council meeting held on 27 January approved the new Barcelona Right to Housing Plan (PDHB 2016-2025), which includes all the housing actions that should enable us to improve the living conditions of Barcelona’s citizens.
In Ciutat Vella’s case, the PDHB actions are organised around four axes:
- Addressing, reversing and preventing the housing emergency
- Ensuring the proper use of housing
- Increasing the supply of affordable housing
- Maintaining, redeveloping and improving the current housing stock
The age of the housing stock and the increase in property prices in the district have led to a change in the resident population, with people on low incomes being replaced by others on higher incomes. To reverse these trends, the City Council wants to strengthen the mechanisms for guaranteeing the rights of the neighbourhood’s current residents.
As well as increasing the information provided by the district Housing Office, through campaigns and user services, the City Council also wants to strengthen the mechanisms for ensuring the proper use of housing. That will be done by identifying and sanctioning flats being used as illegal tourist apartments and possible cases of property harassment by owners and property operators.
Guaranteeing the right to a decent home
Ciutat Vella has the fourth lowest income index in the city and a higher concentration of cases of socio-economic vulnerability, especially in the Raval neighbourhood. To combat this socio-economic vulnerability and housing instability, we are promoting the acquisition of new housing there to increase the public housing stock and,at the same time, broaden the scope of the Social Emergencies Committee.
It is worth stressing here how important the network of neighbourhood associations and other organisations is in this district, a network the City Council works with to identify and address situations of social and residential exclusion.
In the same vein, we will also be introducing measures to minimise the impact of evictions, such as the Mediation Service for cases of non-payment or difficulties in paying rents and mortgages, as well as follow-up and support mechanisms for people evicted.
Ciutat Vella is also one of the districts where the impact of tourism is most felt, with the presence of illegal tourist apartments that put strong upward pressure on rent levels.
In the Special Urban Development Plan for Tourist Accommodation (PEUAT) , the district is therefore in Zone 1, where the idea is to apply a natural decrease in the supply of tourist accommodation to protect the right of permanent residents to housing.
Increasing the supply of affordable housing
To increase the supply of affordable housing, the City Council is planning to assign land and buildings to housing cooperatives that promote an assigned-for use housing model, which gives tenants access to a home for a longer period at a below-market rate .
We also intend to mobilise the owners of vacant properties, to acquire and renovate buildings to increase the public housing stock, especially in the vicinity of the Rambla, the district’s artery.
Ciutat Vella is the district with the oldest housing stock in the city: three out of every four buildings were built before 1940, which means housing renovation is a political priority. After carrying out an evaluation on the ground, the Council will draw up a map of the properties in a bad state of repair to press for the necessary improvements, both inside the flats and in the communal areas.
In addition to that, as part of the District Plan, we will work with the owners to ensure the work required to make the buildings safe and restore them to a good state of repair gets done.
A plan to guarantee the right to housing
The purpose of the 2016-2025 Right to Housing Plan is to ensure everyone has access to a decent home at an affordable price. To achieve this, the City Council is working with social organisations, professional bodies and members of the sector to defend this right, which is fundamental for the municipal government’s policies.
In this regard, the Metropolitan Housing Observatory acts as an instrument of analysis and support for the authorities in monitoring housing market trends and identifying possible inequalities and social realities that require urgent attention.
The Observatory’s Technical Committee is now preparing to create a Barcelona rent index , which will serve as a benchmark for measuring rent trends and avoiding rises that stop many families finding a place to live at an affordable price.
The new Housing Plan also envisages the creation of a public housing service to manage the new housing initiatives, such as increasing the public housing stock, promoting the Rental Housing Pool to incorporate vacant flats and increasing the renovations grants, as well as fostering new housing models, such as cohousing and assigned-for-use housing.
At the same time, the Special Urban Development Plan for Tourist Accommodation (PEUAT) establishes new regulations for controlling the appearance of new tourist flats and managing their impact on the city.