Access to housing in Spain continues to be marked by the old policy of promoting property and access through the indebtedness of families. This model has been proved as a failure, excessively sensitive to the economic “swings” and only sustainable for a few people. In fact, more and more people live on rent and more and more layers of the population are affected by the shortage of affordable housing. This situation responds to several factors, among which we can highlight some:
- The rental price continues to rise in the main cities. In Valencia city, it has risen more than 50% in recent years, already exceeding pre-crisis values. In fact, in Spain more than a quarter of the tenants, who represent more than 2 million citizens, suffer economic overburden to pay their homes, being at real risk of residential exclusion.
- The appearance of tourist rental platforms continues to interfere with the offer of rental housing. Although it is difficult to know its scope, these apartments already represent at least as many as the offer of public and social housing. And in some areas of the main cities it is particularly dramatic
- Public policies in social housing remain at the tail of Europe. Public spending on housing has fallen by 60% in the last 10 years (2009-2019) and we only have 2% of public and social housing.
- Lots of houses are being acquired by local and foreign investment funds, homes with residents inside, with the sole purpose of continuing to speculate on the right to housing.
The local need for a favourable European legal and economic framework
Luckily, certain changes have been observed in the last year that allow us to see some progress. The idea that the market, by itself, can guarantee in a broad and stable way the right to housing, has fewer and fewer followers. Not only between our civil society and social movements, also some governments and local authorities are increasingly interested in carrying out social (and sometimes transformative) housing policies. The anti-eviction offices are an example of this, as well as the increase in public subsidies to make renting more affordable, or the promotion of initiatives as necessary as the housing cooperatives. However, the measures are still very timid, of local scope, and the housing emergency is very serious and with many global implications; Therefore, powerful policies are required. Affordable housing access policies need significant economic investments and a long-term approach to obtain favorable results (fleeing from the classic short-term looks that only seek electoralist measures).
Therefore, although the struggles for housing are booming in our territory, it becomes necessary to expand the horizon and bring them closer to Europe. We need a favorable legal and economic framework in which the demands that, from civil society and social movements can be claimed from public authorities, can be developed.
There is a certain favorable social and political context that, precisely, requires this legal and economic boost that Housing for All pursues. Proposals such as improving the financing pathways for developers and public and social housing entities or the regulation of tourist apartments and rental prices, would come to articulate the legal and financial mechanisms necessary to favor this new paradigm and alleviate once and for all the huge shortage of affordable housing that we suffer in our country.
Luis Fernández Alonso
El Rogle Coop. V.