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News
Building affordable housing is not an entelechy and there are cities that prove it
 14

  FEB

Building affordable housing is not an entelechy and there are cities that prove it

In Europe 50 measures are being implemented to address residential exclusion and Spain is responsible for five of the proposals



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Source El Pais.
Image of the Bolueta project, promoted by Visesa in Bilbao.
Image of the Bolueta project, promoted by Visesa in Bilbao.
Sandra López Latón
Madrid 25 JAN 2020 - 00:51 CET

The social phenomenon of homelessness overflows with the main European cities, which try to address it with different solutions such as recycled ship containers that are used in several European cities, such as Amsterdam, Copenhagen or Barcelona. It is the least visible, but most tragic, face of the suffocating housing market. High sales and rental prices - although not only for this reason - drag more vulnerable and low-income individuals into residential exclusion. More and more working people do not earn enough to pay or rent adequate housing.
IFrame

This scourge not only includes the homeless, in which other personal and family factors play, but also all those people who do not have a decent, habitable and permanent dwelling, who necessarily reside in shared flats, or in houses of family and friends . "We talk about hidden homelessness," says Sergio Nasarre, director of the UNESCO Department of Housing at the Rovira i Virgili University (URV). "A clear profile is that of the divorced and separated, who end up in hostels or returning to the parents' house," Nasarre emphasizes.

It is very complicated to make an estimate of the invisible homelessness. An approach is that made by the European Federation of National Organizations (Feantsa) and the Abbé Pierre Foundation, which say that 11 million family units in Europe lack adequate accommodation and live on the street, social assistance or housed in houses from third parties. Throughout Europe the phenomenon of homelessness has grown and has only been reduced in Finland.




In the absence of powers and budget of the European Parliament, there are those who want to show the world that it is possible to put social housing on the market. A report with 50 cutting-edge measures to address residential exclusion and combat homelessness arrived in Brussels last December, at the hands of Feantsa and Housing Europe, the most important European public housing and cooperative federation in the region. Five of the measures are Spanish (proposals from the Basque Country, the Canary Islands and Catalonia). "The purpose is to show small-scale creative solutions that already work and can be replicated in other European countries," says Nasarre. They involve the public and private sector and try to fill the gap left by the current poor housing policies.

Among the initiatives, which have already proven their effectiveness in Europe, is the transformation of an old industrial installation in houses in Poland or the acquisition by the Austrian bank Erste Bank of 200 floors before 2021 to offer affordable rentals for an unlimited time.

Finland has converted the shelters into modern homes with low rents, especially in Helsinki. There are many countries that are betting on the housing first model, in which access to a home is no longer the last step in helping people without resources, but the first. That is, the house is the basis for getting back on your feet and starting a new life.

Already in Spain, the Basque Country has set the bar high. Its three proposals are focused on demonstrating that affordable housing and, in addition, sustainable housing can be made. One of them recovers an old contaminated industrial site southeast of Bilbao. Bolueta, a project in which the public and private sectors collaborate, stands on the first Vizcaya blast furnace and contemplates the construction of 1,100 new homes (608 protected). Those destined for social rent are leased for about 200 euros per month. In that group, the public society Visesa has managed to build the passive housing building (171 floors) with the highest certification in the world.

Another of the Basque proposals that has set in Brussels is an empty housing program, which aims to capture unoccupied apartments for placing on the market with a rent of about 226 euros per month for a minimum of six years. It is intended for people whose financial resources are not sufficient to access the free market. The owner receives about 600 euros per month and the guarantee of the Basque Government against possible damage. This program has obtained more than 6,000 houses, with which the Basque public park already has 14,200 apartments with rentals of between 200 and 250 euros per month. "More than a third of the applicant's income is never required," says a spokesman for the Basque Government's housing department.

It is a realistic solution and seems to be profitable. Promoting and building a social housing has an estimated cost

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