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Barcelona backs activists in quest for Spanish housing rights law

BCN En Comú, ERC, JxCat, and Socialists support 8-point proposal

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28 May 2021 11:06 AM

by

Cristina Tomàs White|Barcelona

Months after Catalonia passed its groundbreaking rent cap law, the Barcelona city council has approved a housing rights motion put forth by a number of the Catalan capital's most active community groups.

The 8-point proposal — backed by Barcelona En Comú, Esquerra Republicana, JuntsxCat, and the Socialists — seeks to protect those at risk of losing their homes with the eventual approval of a Spain-wide law.

Housing as a "fundamental right"

Housing rights organizations, from Barcelona's chapter of the Plataforma d'Afectades per la Hipoteca (PAH) to the Sindicat de Llogateres tenants' union or the Observatorio DESC platform, celebrate the council's move, but are adamant that Spain's Socialist-Podemos left-leaning coalition government must "put its differences aside" to make the law a reality.  

According to its proponents, as the PAH's Lucía Delgado explained, the Spanish government must guarantee affordable homes for all; put an end to evictions for those with nowhere else to live; increase public housing options; regulate rent prices according to salaries; ensure access to basic utilities; aid indebted tenants and mortgage payers; increase the public housing and social services budget; as well as actively allow citizens to have their say in housing and urban policies.

"Over the past five years, rents have increased 30 times more than salaries," says the Sindicat de Llogateres' spokesperson, Rodrigo Martínez, citing an Infojobs and Fotocasa report published last summer. The same study concludes that Catalonia's residents spent 56.5% of their income on rent, well above the Spanish average of 40%. "We are living through an unprecedented housing crisis, which is why we need a housing law that recognizes housing is a basic right."

Council support

Barcelona's city council coalition — comprised of the local branches, Barcelona En Comú and the Socialists, of the parties in the Spanish government — have been able to pass the activists' motion with support from the two main pro-independence parties, Esquerra Republicana and Junts per Catalunya.

"We do a lot of work from the council," says Socialist councilor Joan Ramon Riera. "But we know it is not enough. We need a housing law and budget."

But because Ciudadanos, the conservative People's Party, and former French Prime Minister Manuel Vall's Barcelona pel Canvi have voted against it, the city will not be able to issue an institutional statement urging Spain to pass a housing rights law.

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  • Housing rights associations at the Barcelona city council on May 28, 2021 (by Carola López)

  • Housing rights associations at the Barcelona city council on May 28, 2021 (by Carola López)

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