When Ada Colau was re-elected Mayor of Barcelona last June, there were 65 public housing developments underway. The City Council intended to continue with the objectives of the first term and to promote the construction of an affordable public housing park, basically for rent. But only 13 of the plots are under construction and three are completed. The rest, 49 promotions, have not yet reached the construction phase, although they are in different stages.
Four of the promised promotions are in bidding for works, 19 promotional projects are being drafted, 10 lands are being awarded to other operators (cooperatives, foundations or companies) and 16 are still pending bidding.
The City Council admits that public housing developments are slowing down more than they would like. “As it is a public budget, there are laws and guarantees processes that must be complied with and that will prolong the tempos,” says the Councilor for Housing, Lucía Martín, on the long pre-processing procedure before the cranes arrive at. an empty lot. Of the 65 projects underway, 44 are built by the Municipal Housing and Rehabilitation Institute (IMHAB), and 21 are promotions delegated to cooperatives, foundations or trading companies. Both initiatives are the alternative to the sale of land to private developers, an option that the current Executive rounds out to avoid losing public land. Although private promotion is often more agile, Martín acknowledges.
During its first term, Barcelona en Comú set out to double the city’s public housing, between flats built and bought or loaned, but the keys given were 2,600, far from the 8,000 promised flats. There is also no security now to meet the target of a 16,000-story public park at the end of this second term. “By the end of 2023, we will not be far from doubling the number of municipal management homes that were four years ago,” says Martin. According to the councilor, in 2015 there were about 7,500 apartments and public accommodations, less than 2% of the total of the residential park.
In recent months, IMHAB has completed the work of three promotions, one of which is the accommodation for people in emergency of housing built with old maritime containers. They are not called homes because they are provisional when they are built on equipment floors. When the rest of the promotions in progress are completed, more than 4,000 homes and lodgings will be added, 70% for rent.
As a whole, the municipal effort to increase the public park involves an investment of about 554 million euros, which have been taken almost entirely by the Barcelona City Council, with the help of a public bank loan. European, explains the councilor. Martín recalls that the state has stopped investing 65% since 2008 and the Generalitat, 50%. “We are a small part, we need more tools to regulate the market and have other administrations accompany us, which for the moment they have not done much,” says the Councilor for Housing.
The Government of Colau has set itself the challenge of reducing the length of time for its public promotions with modular buildings and prefabricated elements, such as those used for APROP homes (made with maritime containers) for emergency people. housing. But for now, it’s a minority option. Of the three promotions announced in 2018, only the one in the Gothic Quarter has materialized in Ciutat Vella.
Another option to accelerate the creation of public housing is the delegated promotion, which constitutes 20% of the ongoing developments. In this case, the City Council cedes the right of surface to other entities, such as foundations, cooperatives and limited for-profit companies, which are responsible for the construction. In this way, the ownership of the land never ceases to be public, because the plots of land are ceded only to the land for 75 years, and the rent prices are equated with the rest of the publicly owned housing.
And, beyond the promotion of new homes, the City Council is increasing the park with other tools: the preferential purchase of homes from evictions (proving and retraction), the direct purchase and mobilization of disused private housing in public through the rental bag.
The first APROP homes, intended for people in a housing emergency situation, completed their work last December in Ciutat Vella. It is a project made from maritime containers, a method that aimed to speed up the construction of social housing for people in vulnerable situations.
According to the Council of Housing of the City Council, they intend to bet more on modular buildings with prefabricated elements. However, of the three promotions announced in 2018, only one has materialized, and one month after the completion of the works, no one is still living in the building.
The other promotion will be built in the Sant Martí district, but it has yet to be tendered. And the one planned for Can Batlló (Sants-Montjuïc) has been ruled out.