Habitatge Metròpolis (HMB), Barcelona


Habitatge Metròpolis (HMB), Barcelona

Policies and regulations Local policies Global frameworks Governance Public-private initiatives
Financing Public funding Public-private collaboration
Promotion and production Public-private partnerships
Ownership and tenure Protection of social housing Public-private partnerships

Main objectives of the project

Habitatge Metròplis is the metropolitan operator for the promotion of public housing. A mixed public-private company that seeks to build social housing in a profitable way for the private company. Its greatest advantages are 1) the innovative governance it assumes and 2) its metropolitan dimension.


  • 2019: Implementation


  • Promotor: Barcelona City Council
  • Promotor: Metropolitan Area of Barcleona (AMB)
  • Promotor: Neinor Homes, S.A


Continent: Europe
City: Barcelona
Country/Region: Barcelona, Spain


Barcelona is facing the biggest housing crisis in recent years. In the capital and its metropolitan area, rents are much higher than in the rest of the country. This is causing applications for social housing to skyrocket. Despite this, the number of social housing units in Barcelona is well below the European average and is falling. This is due to the fact that for years, social housing was under ownership regime. That is, after a few years it ceases to be protected and goes to the free market. Thus, there is a need to build social housing quickly and in large quantities.

Unfortunately, the administration alone could not cope with the great demand. That is why they have decided to promote a metropolitan operator. That is to say, they have created a mixed company, between the public and private sectors, to promote social housing for the metropolitan area of Barcelona. The goal is to build 4500 homes in 6 years, 50% within the city of Barcelona and 50% in the metropolitan area. The shareholders of the company are the AMB (25%), the Barcelona City Council (25%), the company NICRENT Residencial (50%), of which Neinor Homes, S.A. and CEVASA are 50% shareholders. The balance between public and private partners and the relationship of equality, co-responsibility and long-term trust is the basis for sharing investment efforts, risks, costs and benefits. This formula guarantees the social goals of the project and its economic success, taking into account the technical capabilities and economic solvency of the participating partners.

Unlike in the past, all the housing will be for subsidized rental at below-market prices and will always be publicly owned. In this way, the land will remain under social housing protection, despite the passage of time. With regard to construction, the operator must guarantee environmental quality and sustainability with energy saving criteria and promote accessibility and architectural quality.

It is the first company of its kind to have a metropolitan dimension in Spain. In fact, Spain has a high deficit of metropolitan housing policies. A study has detected 384 institutions operating in Spain's metropolitan environments. Of these, only about 30 deal directly or indirectly with the issue of housing, despite being one of the main problems of Spanish cities (1). Thus, the operator is innovative because it assumes, for the first time, that housing does not have a municipal dimension, but goes beyond its limits. In this way, its metropolitan approach is vital for developing a joint housing policy among the 36 municipalities that make up the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona.

(1) To see more into: Tomàs, M. (2023). Metrópolis sin gobierno. La anomalía española en Europa. Ed. Tirant lo Blanch.