Spain’s housing policy criticised in UN report

UN report criticises Spanish government’s housing policy

Reposessions in Spain could increase by 194% compared to 2007 according to a report compliled by Raquel Rolnik on behalf of the UN. Rolnik, presented the report yesterday in Barcelona before its presentation to the UN today. She exlpained that the increase in repossessions could mean that as many as 180,000 families might find themselves in a position where they could not meet their monthly mortgage repayments and therefore as a result lose their properties.

The report questions housing policy in Spain and other European countries over recent years saying it had only served to stimulate the purchase of private property. Rolnik explained that ‘the right to a place to live is one thing and the the right to private property is another’. She said that states had converted the right to private property into the only option available and that housing had ended up being considered as an investment or business opportunity.

In her opinion ‘housing is a consumer product that only works if credit is available’. She went on to say that ‘over the last few years mechanisms had been invented so that people who did not fulfill the necessary criteria could enter into this circuit’ until a point had been reached where the ‘bubble had burst’.

Rolnik explained that the crisis should force governments to review and rectify their housing policies ‘because it was not possible to continue injecting thousands of millions into banks and forgetting that there are many large groups of people that cannot gain access to a place to live’. She said that it would be easier and cheaper to help these groups to pay rent during a period than not to build subsidised housing. She cited the example of Germany and also Manhattan where for 30 years a third of all new housing has been destined for rent at subsidised rates in order to help people with limited economic resouces.

In contrast, Rolnik said that ‘the proposals put forward by the Spanish government aimed at helping tenants served more to deregulate more than regulate in a way that protected property owners more than tenants’

Source: El Pais

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