Aid for first refusal and withdrawal and to social entities for social renting (Catalonia, Spain)

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Aid for first refusal and withdrawal and to social entities for social renting (Catalonia, Spain)

Mismatches Vulnerable groups
Policies and regulations National policies Regulation
Financing Public funding Supply subsidies

Main objectives of the project

The housing crisis in Catalonia has led to the implementation of strategies such as the right of first refusal, which allows the public administration to intervene in real estate transactions to ensure the availability of social housing. To overcome financial constraints, the Catalan Credit Institute offers financial aid to social entities and the administration to facilitate the direct purchase or exercise of this right. These measures seek to expand the social housing market and guarantee favorable conditions for tenants in the long term.

Date

  • 2018: Implementation

Stakeholders

  • Institut Català de Finances (ICF)

Location

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

Description

Catalonia, one of the territories most affected by housing market tensions, especially after the 2008 financial crisis, has faced a considerable challenge in this area. Following the collapse of the private market and the historic increase in rental prices, the Catalan authorities have implemented various strategies to ensure the availability of social housing for its citizens. Among these strategies is the right of first refusal and withdrawal, established in the 2007 Housing Law, as well as collaboration with civil society organizations.

The right of first refusal allows the public administration to intervene in real estate transactions between private parties, acquiring the property in lieu of a third party, either before or after the transaction, at the same price agreed upon by the private parties. However, the obligation to acquire at the same price may limit the financial capacity of many administrations to exercise this right. To address this limitation, the Catalan Credit Institute (ICF, in catalan) has launched a program of grants for pre-emptive rights of first refusal and withdrawal. In addition, the same aids are extended to third sector entities that collaborate with the administration in the direct purchase or in the first refusal for social housing.

These aids are designed to facilitate the direct purchase or the exercise of the right of first refusal by social entities and the public administration. In exchange, these entities may receive an amount ranging from €25,000 to €10 million, with a maximum of €90,000 per housing unit. However, the property acquired through these subsidies is of a temporary nature, limited to a term of 75 years for these entities. This period, considered sufficient to repay the loan, allows for investments in profitable housing. In addition, these homes are usually destined for social renting, offering below-market rates and favorable conditions for tenants. At the end of the 75-year period, the property becomes public property.

Both city councils and companies dedicated to the promotion of public housing can also access this aid under the same conditions as the entities. Thus, this measure aims to involve all relevant actors in the acquisition and use of all available legal resources to promote social housing, without being limited by economic constraints. Ultimately, this initiative has the potential to expand the social housing market both now and in the future.

Alerta desnonaments: Anti-eviction map, Barcelona

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Alerta desnonaments: Anti-eviction map, Barcelona

Policies and regulations Data and monitoring Evaluation and impact Evictions Participatory processes

Main objectives of the project

CMMM, a research initiative focused on practical applications, was established to empower civil society actors in their efforts towards creating fairer societies and cities through significant political change. Municipalist mobilizers, dedicated to reshaping power dynamics, continually innovate tools and methods. Critical mapping was given precedence within the project as it represents an "act of power," moving beyond mere theoretical discourse to offer diverse perspectives on realities, catalyzing shifts in narratives and discourse. Among their interactive maps spotlighting housing in European cities, the “Stop Evictions” map stands out. Using the historical data about evictions in the city of Barcelona, it helps putting toghther people to avoid them in the future.

Date

  • 2023: Implementation

Stakeholders

  • Observatori DESC
  • CMMM

Location

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

Description

Barcelona has long been a vibrant, politically charged city, where various movements and organizations converge and emerge. Following the downfall of the Franco dictatorship, urban struggles have become integral to the city's fabric, notably gaining momentum around the time of the 1992 Olympics and subsequent developments. The 1990s witnessed significant economic liberalization and deregulation, with a diminishing governmental role to accommodate capitalist investors. However, the financial crisis of 2008, stemming from the United States, catalyzed a housing crisis in Barcelona, reshaping social interventions and becoming a prominent concern for citizens.

The reforms mandated by the European Financial Stabilization Mechanism, later transitioning into the European Stability Mechanism, precipitated a shift in the housing emergency from mass foreclosures linked to mortgage defaults to a rental crisis between 2013 and 2015. Presently, approximately 40% of Barcelona's population are renters, far exceeding the Spanish average of 25%, exacerbating issues of affordability. Housing policies in Spain lag behind much of Europe, characterized by deteriorating buildings, particularly in the historic district due to intentional neglect. Moreover, soaring prices relative to income, scant social housing provision at only 1.6% of the total stock, and minimal tenant protections underscore the severity of the situation. The city's status as a premier European tourist destination further compounds the housing crisis, driving up demand for lodging and threatening locals' access to housing and a non-commercialized neighborhood life.

The CMMM Barcelona team is affiliated with Observatori DESC, a hybrid human rights organization fostering collaboration between urban social movements, the city administration, and academia, focuses on advocating for progressive laws and policies. Within their scope of work on the right to the city, Observatori DESC prioritizes ensuring the social use of housing as a prerequisite for dignified living. Their advocacy encompasses initiatives to increase public and affordable housing, implement innovative, rights-based social policies to combat evictions, and address abuses by large landlords, such as expulsions and harassment. At the legislative and judicial levels, efforts are concentrated on curbing exorbitant housing costs through measures like rent controls and outlawing entities like Desokupa, which employ intimidation tactics during evictions.

In the context of the CMMM project, Observatori DESC collaborated with housing organizations and movements to explore the application of critical mapping in documenting, mobilizing, and advocating for changes in housing discourses. Specifically, they investigated methods to delineate and document eviction occurrences and organize resistance against them. The "Stop Eviction" maps provide crucial insights. Firstly, they detail interventions by civil society anti-eviction organizations during evictions between 2016 and 2022, identifying involved property owners and outcomes. This sheds light on the principal actors in eviction processes and organizational resistance efforts. Secondly, impending evictions are mapped out, empowering individuals to preemptively act against them.

Both maps serve as invaluable tools in addressing Barcelona's housing crisis, offering insights into landlord behaviors and guiding efforts to support tenants. They facilitate a better understanding of eviction dynamics and avenues for community engagement.

Bilbao-Bolueta regeneration

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Bilbao-Bolueta regeneration

Mismatches Location Financing Functional adequacy Services Cultural suitability Diversity Climate change
Policies and regulations Local policies Land Building capacity Planning
Financing Public funding Land Based Finance
Promotion and production Public promotion Innovation Technology

Main objectives of the project

The urban regeneration initiative in Bolueta, spearheaded by VISESA and leveraging the natural landscape along the river, demonstrates a strategic approach to reclaiming degraded land for societal benefit. Through a blend of protected housing development and soil remediation, the project not only addresses housing needs but also fosters citizen engagement in decision-making, contributing to social cohesion and environmental sustainability. In fact, the social housing building is, today, the highest passivhouse in the world. Bolueta serves as a model for Bilbao's broader transformation strategy, exemplifying the city's shift from industrial decline to innovative urban development.

Date

  • 2018: Construction

Stakeholders

  • Constructor: Construcciones Sukia Eraikuntzak
  • Architect: German Velázquez
  • Promotor: VISESA

Location

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

Description

Bolueta, although well-connected to Bilbao, Spain, has long suffered from environmental degradation and neglect. The intervention in Bolueta represents a strategic urban regeneration effort aimed at reclaiming contaminated industrial land for the benefit of society. This operation combines the development of protected housing with soil remediation, presenting an opportunity to adapt existing residential and economic facilities while promoting citizen participation in decision-making.

The entity tasked with implementing and constructing the new public housing developments is VISESA, a public company under the Basque Government responsible for housing policy development. Established in 1992, VISESA has constructed 15,283 homes in the Basque Country, managing land and promoting sustainable social housing in line with Basque housing law. VISESA actively engages in urban renewal and housing rehabilitation to enhance accessibility and improve quality of life while promoting sustainable territorial development.

The solution proposes integrating Bolueta into Bilbao's urban, social, and environmental fabric, leveraging the river as a central element for natural landscape preservation and enhancement. The renovated space supports a social public housing program, with 608 out of 1100 homes designated as social public housing to address housing needs and contribute to social cohesion. The public housing project prioritizes energy efficiency, acoustic and thermal comfort, indoor air quality, and the use of natural and healthy building materials.

The primary positive impact on the community is the provision of 1100 new homes, including 608 social public housing units to address housing accessibility challenges. This development is the tallest passive house building in the world. The residential development has also created public spaces enriched with interconnected amenities, with 25,386.38m2 of pedestrian areas along the riverside promenade. The design improvements enhance accessibility, mobility, comfort, air quality, flood risk management, urban complexity, social cohesion, efficiency of urban services, green spaces, and biodiversity.

The social public housing units meet the Passive House quality standard, making them the highest certified buildings globally, recognized at the 22nd International Passive House Conference in 2018. The project's success has attracted national and international interest, with visits from delegations from countries such as India, Canada, and Colombia, as well as 800 professionals visiting nationally to learn from the Bolueta experience.

Bolueta exemplifies Bilbao's ongoing transformation. Once a city in decline in the 1980s, Bilbao's soil strategy has converted former industrial land into public space for top-tier services and social housing projects. Bilbao, rather than developing new costly developments is changing all the Nervion River bank to transform its city. With the surplus of transforming industrial land into new uses, they manage to invest in public housing or key infrastructure that the city need. This scheme has been worldwide recognized as a success.

Observatorio de la Vulnerabilidad Urbana, Spain

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Observatorio de la Vulnerabilidad Urbana, Spain

Mismatches
Policies and regulations National policies Governance Data and monitoring Evaluation and impact

Main objectives of the project

The Spanish Ministry of Housing Development realized that, despite having systematized housing census data, it had not systematized the information to make informed affordable housing and neighborhood improvement policies. For this reason, it has created the Observatory of Urban Vulnerability. The objective of this observatory is to inform through an open data system the information available from the Spanish administrations on residential insecurity, unaffordable housing or urban deprivation.

Date

  • 2015: Implementation

Stakeholders

  • Ministerio de Fomento (Spain)

Location

City: Madrid
Country/Region: Spain

Description

Spanish cities are facing an unprecedented housing crisis. Added to this is an aging housing stock, most of which is owned but whose inhabitants do not have the capacity to rehabilitate the buildings. In this way, Spain sees how the social crisis is added to the housing crisis, giving rise to significant urban vulnerabilities and growing residential insecurities. For this reason, it wanted to promote various programs to help alleviate this situation. The problem was (and is) that there is no systematized, open and worked data on these matters. Hence the Observatory of Urban Vulnerability was born.

The Observatory manages 2 atlases or data visualizations. One is directly related to housing. It is the Atlas of Residential Building in Spain, with information on the characteristics of residential buildings and housing at the census section level of all Spanish municipalities (referring to the Population and Housing Censuses of 2001, 2011 and 2018). The indicators range from income to the state of housing in the last two decades. All of this is delimited in census sections, the smallest delimitation that Spain has, comparable to neighborhoods.

The other atlas is that of Urban Vulnerability. In this case, the Observatory relates the housing situation with the socioeconomic and demographic characteristics of its inhabitants. In this way it can generate an index of urban deprivation for the whole state, detecting which locations will have the most difficulties in the future to live in adequate living conditions.

Apart from the visualization of the data, the observatory reports on them. All the data it generates is open to the public and easy to consult. In fact, the objective is to be used by other administrations and researchers as a reference in the field in the state. From there, to share diagnoses and common actions in urban regeneration. This fact is especially important in Spain, whose competencies in housing are the responsibility of the Autonomous Communities (regions and nations of the State) and not the central government. Thus, the observatory can be a support point for common information and coordination. It is being so for the development of the Urban Agendas.

Although it is not exclusively a housing observatory, it has an impact on the capacity of inhabitants to access housing and its characteristics. In this way, it is a vital instrument for their policies.

Metropolitan Housing Observatory, Barcelona (O-HB)

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Metropolitan Housing Observatory, Barcelona (O-HB)

Policies and regulations National policies Local policies Governance Data and monitoring Evaluation and impact

Main objectives of the project

The Metropolitan Housing Observatory of Barcelona (O-HB) is a supra-municipal entity dedicated to researching and analyzing housing-related data with the aim of supporting the design and evaluation of public policies in this area. It emerged in 2017 as a collaboration between the Barcelona City Council, the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona (AMB), the Barcelona Provincial Council and the Generalitat de Catalunya, with the support of the Association of Social Housing Managers (GHS).

Date

  • 2017: Implementation

Stakeholders

  • Barcelona City Council
  • AMB (Metropolitan Government)
  • Diputació de Barcelona
  • Generalitat de Catalunya

Location

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

Description

Barcelona is experiencing an unprecedented housing crisis. Rents have skyrocketed and housing prices are unaffordable for the majority of the population. Despite this, housing data were fragmented among different administrations, were not transparent and unclear. For this reason, the City Council promoted a metropolitan observatory that could systematize the data to provide clear information on how to act in the face of the crisis. To this end, the Generalitat (the national government), the Diputació provincial (the region), the metropolitan government and the City Council, as well as civil society, with the Association of Social Housing Managers, came to an agreement. Together they made possible the Metropolitan Housing Observatory (O-HB).

Thus, the Observatory gives an open data system since its creation. The data is structured in six chapters: housing stock; construction and rehabilitation; socio-demographic and socio-economic aspects; housing and land market; problems of permanence, access and maintenance; and public policies. From these open data, all the administrations share their information and citizens, researchers and social agents can also have an impact on them.

In addition, the observatory carries out its own studies and annual reports on the state of housing. In fact, when a regulation of rental prices was made, the Observatory was in charge of evaluating it from different methodologies. As a democratic instrument at the service of housing, it also organizes debates and lectures with specialists on a regular basis.

In short, the Observatory acts as a scientific tool at the service of citizens, researchers and administrations. For the first time, it systematizes data on the current housing crisis, debates the main policies and evaluates the programs that affect affordable housing. An open laboratory and a critical space to guide the future of a Barcelona where its inhabitants can live.

Links

Housing Observatory, Vitoria, Euskadi

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Housing Observatory, Vitoria, Euskadi

Mismatches
Policies and regulations Local policies Data and monitoring Evaluation and impact

Main objectives of the project

Responding to the pressure of the real estate market, Vitoria-Gasteiz has created a powerful Housing Observatory. This observatory, unique for a city of its size, integrates fragmented data from various sources into a single, accessible visualization. Thematic maps provide a detailed overview of the rental market, land availability and the general state of housing, all contextualized by the socioeconomic situation of neighborhoods. A tool that democratizes access to vital information to guarantee the right to housing.

Date

  • 2020: Implementation

Stakeholders

  • Vitoria-Gasteiz City Council

Location

Continent: Europe
Country/Region: Spain, Vitoria-Gasteiz

Description

Vitoria-Gasteiz is a medium-sized city in Spain. Despite being the capital of the Basque Country, it is the smallest city of the three provinces that make up the Autonomous Community. Vitoria-Gasteiz is known for being a city that has invested a lot in being a green reference and urban regeneration of its neighborhoods. Despite this, it suffers tremendous pressure from the real estate market, which causes it to live in an unprecedented housing crisis. For this reason, the Housing Observatory was created. Among Spanish cities, it is possibly one of the most powerful observatories in existence. Especially when taking into account that it is from a medium-sized city, which is an uncommon place to have these information platforms. Its main objective is to have an open data tool and cartographic visualization of the main housing indicators.

Before the implementation of the Housing Observatory, the information was fragmented in various administrations and entities. Thus, the main task of the Observatory is to collect, systematize, update and relate data from various sources in a single visualization. All the information is oriented to inform the real estate sector, citizens mobilized by the right to housing and administrations about the main state of housing in Vitoria-Gasteiz.

The data are organized in thematic maps. Mainly, the rental market, new and used housing, land available for construction and the general state of the housing stock stand out. Around these maps you can find the average prices of housing, its condition or where new buildings can be built, public or private ownership. Everything is put in relation to the socioeconomic situation by neighborhoods, helping the idea of urban regeneration and encouraging more diverse neighborhoods with mixed uses. In addition, there is a visualization of the main indicators, which can be filtered by neighborhoods. Thus, it also provides a global and territorialized vision, beyond the thematic maps.

All this information can be downloaded and used freely by any user. In short, a tool for the democratization of housing data to coordinate actions to guarantee the subjective right to decent and affordable access to housing.

Habitatge Metròpolis (HMB), Barcelona

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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.

Date

  • 2019: Implementation

Stakeholders

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

Location

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

Description

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.

Links

Las Carolinas-Entrepatios, Madrid

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Las Carolinas-Entrepatios, Madrid

Mismatches Location Price Functional adequacy Services Diversity New family structures
Urban Design Modelos De Ciudad Environments Quality Liveability Inclusion Participatory processes
Promotion and production Private promotion Materials Self-management Self-promotion Cooperatives
Ownership and tenure Shared ownership

Main objectives of the project

Las Carolinas-Entrepatios is the first ecological building with right of use in Spain that has been built between the centre of Madrid and the suburbs. It is a cohousing project, which means that it is the neighbours, members of the cooperative, who, through a participatory decision-making process, have decided on everything from the ecological materials to be used in the construction of the building to what part of the budget will be allocated to the insulation of the building and the type of air conditioning, among other things. Communal spaces make up 15% of the building: a communal courtyard; a room that serves as a children’s play area and as a space for weekly food distribution; a garage with mainly bicycles; a room dedicated to housing a large cistern where rainwater is collected, treated and used for toilets and gardening, by drip; a workshop room where neighbours work with their hands; a communal laundry; and a rooftop dedicated to adult leisure. The child population accounts for almost half of the total, some twenty children between the ages of two and twelve. Las Carolinas cooperative is made up of the fifty-three people who live in its seventeen dwellings. Depending on the size of their dwelling, they have paid between 40,000 and 50,000 euros as a down payment, an amount that will be returned if they leave the cooperative and replaced by those who move in. The ownership of the building remains in the hands of the cooperative and its members use the homes, but never own them.

Date

  • 2020: Construction
  • 2016: En proceso

Stakeholders

  • Promotor: Entrepatios
  • Architect: Lógica’Eco
  • Architect: TécnicaEco
  • Architect: sAtt

Location

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

Description

A few meters from the Manzanares River, in the neighborhood of Carolinas, in Orcasur (Usera), stands the first right-to-use collaborative housing building in the city of Madrid. This project, focused on environmental and community sustainability, has been conceived as a building with its own energy production and a very low energy demand, housing a community based on mutual support. The Las Carolinas development consists of 17 homes, inhabited by 32 adults and 20 children.

Usera, where this innovative building is located, is a peripheral municipality of Madrid that has faced social challenges, including difficulties of access to housing. Emerging from an active neighborhood movement, this project represents a radical, anti-speculative and accessible solution that integrates with the local community. In contrast to the dynamics of marginalization and privatization that have affected the neighborhood, the Entrepatios initiative aims to create inclusive spaces that strengthen the community fabric.
The system used involves a group of people forming a cooperative, which acquires the land and constructs the building. However, the residents do not own the land; instead, they only have the right to use the building as part of the cooperative. This approach prioritizes the use value of the building over land value speculation, offering a solution against gentrification and dispossession.

Since the acquisition of the site in 2016, the cooperative has navigated various forms of participation in the management of the process, with the collaboration of Lógica'Eco for technical aspects and the architectural design by the sAtt studio and TécnicaEco. Funding came from ethical banking and donations. The building, located on an elongated south-facing site, consists of 17 apartments with access through an outdoor corrala, which serves as a circulation and meeting space. Common spaces include first floor and attic space for various community activities, as well as a small workshop in the basement and a common laundry room.

In keeping with its commitment to climate change mitigation and resident comfort, the building prioritizes energy efficiency and comfort, especially in summer, through quality insulation and renewable energy generation. The garden is drip-fed, a rainwater cistern is provided for water savings, and the materials used prevent the release of volatile organic materials. A wooden structure is used. In order to have clean air, we will have a double-flow controlled mechanical ventilation system, which will prevent pollutants from entering from the outside thanks to a filter. This initiative seeks to reduce energy demand and promote a more sustainable lifestyle in a city increasingly affected by heat. The project has been certified with ECOMETRO and has been designed with high energy efficiency standards, incorporating renewable technologies such as solar panels on the roof.

The Entrepatios building is proof of the possibility of housing that is free from speculation, resilient to climate change, and fosters cooperative and communal living in a vulnerable neighborhood of a large metropolis.

Masoveria Urbana, Vilafranca, Spain

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Masoveria Urbana, Vilafranca, Spain

Mismatches Vulnerable groups Vacant housing
Policies and regulations Local policies Regulation Participatory processes
Promotion and production Private promotion Self-management
Ownership and tenure

Main objectives of the project

In the global North, there's often a misconception that access to affordable housing is limited to either ownership or renting. However, historical precedents suggest otherwise. Vilafranca leveraged an ancient land ownership and possession scheme permitted by their traditional private law to devise a solution for affordable housing: the concept of "masoveria”. In Catalan tradition, "masoveria" entails an agreement wherein a property owner grants the use of a house in the countryside to a tenant at no cost. In return, the tenant assumes responsibility for maintaining and cultivating the land and fields associated with the property. This concept has been adapted in urban contexts through initiatives known as "Urban Farmhousing" or "Masoveria Urbana." In these initiatives, buildings in need of renovation and often left vacant are temporarily leased by the owner to tenants at no charge. In exchange, the tenant undertakes necessary rehabilitation works to improve the property.

Date

  • 2017: Implementation

Stakeholders

  • Vilafranca City Council

Location

Continent: Europe
Country/Region: Spain

Description

Vilafranca del Panadès, located in the same region as Barcelona, is considered part of its metropolitan area despite its position on the frontier with the countryside. As the capital of wine in Catalonia, Vilafranca boasts a rich tradition of agriculture. Interestingly, this tradition has become pivotal in addressing the city's urban challenges.

Within the framework of the ALT/BAU URBACT network, Vilafranca identified a significant number of vacant buildings in its city center. The objective was to restore these buildings to tackle the city's most pressing issue: the housing crisis. Following the economic downturn of 2008, finding affordable housing in Vilafranca became increasingly difficult, with prices soaring. Meanwhile, many vacant buildings remained in need of refurbishment, offering potential solutions that could benefit younger residents.

In the rural areas surrounding Vilafranca, there exists a particular type of unused contract known as Masoveria. Under this arrangement, a landowner grants a "masover" the use of the land for agricultural purposes, allowing the landowner to retain ownership while the "masover" benefits from cultivating the land. Recognizing the potential application of this concept in the housing sector, Vilafranca sought to adapt it to their urban challenges.

The proposed solution operates on a simple premise: property owners lacking the financial means to renovate their vacant buildings lease them to younger individuals, who take responsibility for refurbishing the properties. In exchange, the tenants have the right to use the house unit with the condition of improving it. This arrangement not only addresses the housing crisis by providing access to housing without exorbitant costs but also benefits property owners by ensuring their properties are maintained and improved.

This system allows people without house to access one (without paying the market prices!). And then, people with vacant houses earn someone maintaining it and improving it. Central to the success of this initiative is the support of the local council. The municipality actively promotes this model through its website and press releases, maintaining a list of interested owners and tenants. Potential matches are facilitated through initial meetings, with the municipality offering assistance in drafting leasing contracts and navigating the process. Additionally, the municipality serves as a mediator if necessary, fostering collaboration between owners and tenants.

To further promote awareness and engagement, the city council organizes festivities in areas with vacant buildings, featuring music and family events on weekends. These events aim to attract citizens to these areas, allowing them to explore the vacant buildings and appreciate their heritage value. Ultimately, the goal is to empower citizens to make use of these opportunities and contribute to the revitalization of these spaces.

This project exemplifies two key insights: firstly, the innovative utilization of traditional legal frameworks to provide affordable housing without significant public expenditure, and secondly, the proactive role of the public sector in facilitating collaboration among stakeholders, positioning it as a leader in urban development rather than merely a provider of services.

Cireres

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Cireres

Mismatches Financing Functional adequacy Services Cultural suitability Diversity Climate change
Policies and regulations Local policies Land Public-private initiatives
Financing Financial actors
Urban Design Environments Quality Liveability
Promotion and production Public-private partnerships Participatory processes Self-management Self-promotion Cooperatives
Ownership and tenure Shared ownership Protection of social housing Land ownership

Main objectives of the project

Cireres is a housing project whose goal is to build a cooperative housing that avoids speculation and the market dynamics. Thanks to a leasing of public land, a group of people in search of affordable housing could form a community with sustainable and top-tier housing units.

Date

  • 2022: Ganador
  • 2022: Construction
  • 2017: En proceso

Stakeholders

  • Promotor: SostreCivic (Coopertaiva Cireres)
  • Promotor: Barcelona City Hall
  • Constructor: La Constructiva
  • Architect: CelObert
  • Matriu
  • Col·lectiu Ronda
  • Fiare
  • Arç

Location

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

Description

Cireres is located in Roquetes, a popular neighborhood of Barcelona, with significant levels of vulnerability. This neighborhood has undergone considerable urban improvement since the 1990s. Originally, it was formed as a neighborhood of informal housing. Over the years, these dwellings have been integrated into the urban fabric and living conditions have improved. Today, the neighborhood faces new challenges. Mainly, housing speculation has entered fully into the daily life of the neighbors. For this reason, an investment in social housing is necessary. However, social housing is often expensive for the administration and has no roots in the neighborhood.

Cireres wants to solve the above problems. The project follows the logic of cooperative housing in lease of use. The public administration leases a municipal lot to a cooperative for a long period of time. In exchange, the cooperative builds the building and its members have the right to use the housing. In this way, the municipality does not lose public land for affordable housing. On the other hand, tenants have secure tenure and are part of a larger community integrated into the neighborhood, with the agency to build and decide on their project. To move in, each cohabitation unit has had to make an initial returnable capital contribution and then monthly payments, including services and utilities, which are below city rents.

Cireres also goes a step further. The objective is to generate a community that can build the entire project and live thereafter from the social and solidarity economy, not linked to the speculative market. Thus, the financing comes from Fiare, an ethical bank. The insurance company, the construction company, the management company... and all the agents involved are non-profit cooperatives. In this way, the value of use is put in front of the value of exchange, demonstrating another way to build affordable housing. In addition, the project includes a social economat, a working cooperative of residents dedicated to the trade of agro-ecological products.

The community life of Cireres is structured in an assembly, linked to the realities of the neighborhood and the residents. Its 32 dwellings are organized around common spaces. Thus, the idea is to be a single house, erasing the distance between the public and the private, integrating community life in the residence. For example, the houses are structured around a landing where neighbors can go out to hang the laundry, play... There are also communal indoor spaces. The communal project has an ideology that everyone must respect, the framework from which the activities, complicities and constructions of relationships, group and building are developed.

The site is a plot of 428 m2 located in the street Pla dels Cirerers, 2-4, We wanted to have shared spaces of quality, which allow to release functions of the interior of the private spaces to give them to the community, so 190m2 of buildability of the site are no longer exhausted by the commitment to make community spaces. We have built reduced private living spaces (50 m2 on average), which are compensated by 771 m2 of space for community use. The material used in Cirerers is mainly wood, and also lime mortar on the facades and plasterboard in the interiors. All of them are biodegradable materials with a low ecological footprint, since their production, transport and recycling involve very low CO2 emissions.

The building has won several awards: Advanced Architecture Awards 2022 in the Sustainability category - REBUILD, European Social Innovation Competition (EUSIC) and finalist of the MINI Design Awards 2022 - Madrid Design Festival.