The next council of ministers will approve 50,000 housing units from ‘the bad bank’ (el banco malo) Sareb to be available for rent at ‘affordable prices’, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez informed during a speech on Sunday morning.
The bank Sareb was set up during the financial crisis to take over the real estate of failed banks at an absurdly high price. It was supposed to cost Spaniards nothing, yet €35 billion had to be coughed up last year when the Spanish state was forced by Europe to take on the entire debt. This had arisen due to mismanagement. Furthermore, the assets were sold in February.
‘After the agreement on the housing law, we will move on,’ Sánchez said. The Socialist leader referred to the ‘unacceptable age‘ at which Spanish young people are leaving home. And to studies estimating that 70% of inequality ‘results from the difficulty or impossibility of accessing decent housing’. According to the government’s data, Spain ranks fourth out of 27 countries with the most difficulty in paying rent.
Nearly seven times more public housing than now
Sánchez promised Spain 20% public housing, up from 3% now. According to his proposal, this would improve housing accessibility for young people. Socialists assume that a greater supply is needed to lower prices. The government now suggests that this increase should be achieved through public supply: ‘By increasing supply, not with more free housing, but with public housing, we can better regulate the price of housing,’ the prime minister said.
The government has now put forward several ideas to realise these 50,000 homes. Firstly, by encouraging social renting in 14,000 occupied homes. Secondly, the construction of up to 15,000 social housing units on land provided by Sareb will be encouraged. And finally, 21,000 housing units will be made available to municipalities and autonomous communities.
The Socialists’ municipal programme proposes regulating tourist flats to prevent them from falling into disrepair in city centres. ‘Socialist cities will limit the disproportionate growth of tourist flats in their historical centres, where this makes access to housing more difficult by increasing rents,’ the programme states. The socialists denounce ‘the displacement of ordinary residents’ as a result of this ‘uncontrolled’ boom in holiday homes.
The housing issue plays a fundamental role during the election programme. Its implementation will take many months. Government sources say that after approval, which is not guaranteed to take place before the municipal and regional elections, an ordinance has to be drafted. Moreover, this could take as long as four or five months. However, if the autonomous regions have jurisdiction over this policy, it will mean that in regions covered by the PP, many aspects of the new regulation will not be applied.
But apart from working out the plan, the government has wanted to make this issue a point in a campaign in which its main focus is to stay in power in cities like Seville, Madrid Valencia and Barcelona.