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How a Catalan town plans to bring down housing prices with co-ops

Mataró launches EU-funded project to turn old buildings into affordable housing

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11 October 2018 03:17 PM

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ACN | Mataró

Mataró, a seaside town near Barcelona, is launching a co-operative to help owners rehabilitate unused apartments as a means to mitigate the shortage of affordable housing.

Within a year, rental prices in Mataró have increased by 33%. Not only will the introduction of cheap flats provide new renting opportunities for tenants, but it could also have a positive impact on the whole housing market and bring prices down, according to the city council.

"We want to take some risks and pursue different solutions," said mayor David Bote. "We want to raise awareness in order to influence the rental market. We know it’s difficult, but it did work for other European countries."    

  • "We want to raise awareness in order to influence the rental market. We know it’s difficult, but it did work for other European countries"

    David Bote · Mayor of Mataró

Mataró has some 3,400 empty flats, a quarter of which are owned by banks, estimates show.

The housing boom in Catalonia and Spain that started in the late 1990s came to an abrupt end with the economic downturn in 2008, leaving thousands of buildings unfinished and uninhabitable all across the country.

The co-operative will be owned by the landlords of unused houses, the companies responsible for rehabilitating them, as well as the city council, which will be in charge of managing the housing stock until the organization can function independently.

The public-private partnership will provide funding for the house owners that fall short of the money needed to rehabilitate their properties to put them up for rent.

EU funded project

The project is set to receive €2.5 million in European Union funds as part of the Urban Innovative Action, fostering creative solutions for urban challenges. Mataró is the only city in Catalonia and Spain that will get financial support for a housing project.

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  • An architect takes measurements from an apartment to be rehabilitated in Mataró (by ACN)

  • An architect takes measurements from an apartment to be rehabilitated in Mataró (by ACN)