Housing groups protest 'speculator' trade show in Barcelona

One person arrested after police forcibly remove activists from The District real estate investors event

Housing rights activists inside the real estate fair The District in Barcelona's Fira Montjuïc congress hall
Housing rights activists inside the real estate fair The District in Barcelona's Fira Montjuïc congress hall / Cristina Tomàs White
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Barcelona

October 19, 2022 09:44 AM

October 19, 2022 07:33 PM

Housing rights groups are protesting against The Distict, a trade show for real estate investors taking place in Fira Montjuïc in Barcelona from Wednesday to Friday.

A few hundred people gathered early on Wednesday morning in front of Hotel Catalonia Barcelona Plaza in Plaça Espanya to begin the protest, called for by various housing groups such as PAH, the Tenants Union, and various neighborhood and city-wide housing groups.

They oppose the fair as they accuse the organizers and participants, which include the likes of Goldman Sachs, The Blackstone Group, and CaixaBank, of being speculators in the housing market. 


Shortly after 9 am, the group began moving toward the events center where The District is taking place and tried to enter.

At least 50 activists managed to enter the Fira Montjuïc congress hall, where they huddled together in a group and chanted slogans in favor of affordable housing and against the rising costs they believe the companies at The District are responsible for, forcing talks to begin an hour behind schedule. One person was arrested. 


Event-goers expressed varying degrees of incredulity as protesters were being forcibly removed by Mossos d'Esquadra police officers, from one angry attendee calling the protesters "scum" to another real estate agent who had traveled from Bilbao telling Catalan News he "worried what image was being projected." The protest continues outside the venue. 

Albert Planas, the CEO of NEBEXT Next Business Exhibitions, the company behind the event, addressed the press after all protesters had been removed. "Everyone has the right to protest," he said. "Barcelona is a diverse city and this is part of that diversity."

According to Planas, there are no longer "vulture funds" like the protesters claim as he argued there are now "more rigorous controls." He also acknowledged there was a lack of social housing in Barcelona, and said The District investors could even "help young people and vulnerable people" find homes.  

"Nowadays vulture funds do not exist. Investment funds can and are helping increase the amount of social housing," the CEO of NEBEXT Next Business Exhibitions, said.

Nowadays vulture funds do not exist, Albert Planas says

More police officers will be deployed to Fira Montjuïc until Friday evening when the event is set to end. 

Activists denounce housing crisis

A manifesto signed by dozens of social rights groups calling for the protest against the real estate fair explained their position: "We are living through moments of suffocation for the majority of the population due to speculation in the prices of energy, food, and housing, with soaring inflation that is reaching uncontrollable figures."

It goes on to condemn "millionaire profits of large financial institutions and investment funds, while thousands of families do not have minimum sustenance," before accusing administrations of "failing to fulfill their duty to implement the most elementary social rights."

The group wants to see The District event canceled, as they view it as a forum for people to "continue developing strategies to exploit the territory and resources, speculate and deepen the processes of impoverishment and social exclusion."

There are more evictions in Barcelona than in any other city in Spain, something housing rights activists blame on many of the companies that are present in The District. In the second quarter of 2022, there were more than 26 evictions per day in Catalonia.