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housing

housing

Categoría definitiva
Diagnòstic

Besieged Barcelona

Subtítulo
"we are heading a disaster, an announced disaster: that we will not be able to live in the city"
Body

From the moment of transition of political regime, Barcelona made a great commitment to the improvement of public space as an instrument of democratization. This bet, which would turn an industrial city, dirty, decadent and invaded by cars into a pleasant, attractive and desired place, was the heart of the "Barcelona model", which would eventually receive international recognition. However, this urban model consisted of allocating to the public space improvement many of the resources that other cities allocated to public housing. Over time, this disproportion would have serious consequences for Barcelona. On the one hand, the renewed city would suddenly happen to be one of the first tourist destinations at the European level. Today, after years of tourist crowding, the lack of protection of the housing stock against non-residential uses has meant that, in the most central neighborhoods, many housing buildings have become hotels and a large number of apartments have turned into tourist accommodations. Additionally, the attractions of Barcelona have also placed it among the cities that receive more speculative investments globally. Increasingly, the real estate properties of the city are perceived as volatile capital as material shelters with safe and ever increasing value. This explains why, in 2015, 40% of the purchase of houses that took place in the city had foreign buyers and were paid in cash.

Both the pressure of the tourism industry and the international real estate market reduce the supply of rental housing and lead to higher prices. This makes it increasingly difficult for more people to access affordable housing. But the situation does not only threaten the right to housing; Also the right to the city and the possibility of enjoying an urban improvement that was undertaken with a redistributive spirit and with the collective effort is at stake. In a city with such an attractive value but so little capable of protecting the residential value of their homes, gentrification wreaks havoc in the downtown neighborhoods, driving ever larger layers of the population with less purchasing power. The situation is so much alarming that Javier Burón, manager of the Department of Housing of the Barcelona City Council, recently declared to the press that "we are heading a disaster, an announced disaster: that we will not be able to live in the city". At the metropolitan scale, the phenomenon has a centrifugal effect that forces the displaced to move to dispersed peripheries where they are more dependent on the private vehicle. This causes another emergency for Barcelona: the large number of vehicles that enter every day and that generate deadly levels of pollution.

Rent prices. Image from La Vanguardia

Rent prices. Image from La Vanguardia