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Genoa, Mayor against ghettos: “Let’s sell the council houses”

10 June, Secolo XIX

Returning selling council houses and acting together with private investors “to rebalance the distribution of public construction to avoid its concentration only in some areas”.

These are only a few suggestions for the requalification of the suburbs proposed yesterday by Mayor Marco Bucci in Begato during a conference organised by the Sant’Egidio community dedicated to suburbs. “I don’t like the word suburbs – said Bucci – the architect Renzo Piano taught me that nowadays neighbourhoods are not built just for one purpose. We must create neighbourhoods with multiple functions, inhabited by people doing different things. They become ghettos otherwise. Concentrating council estates in just certain areas as we did in the past was a huge mistake”.

But since there are entire neighbourhoods of council estates, especially on the hills, with their people and their problems, Bucci suggested some strategies that his administration intends to implement to address the matter. He noted: “It would make sense that the people of the council estates would be able to buy the house where they live, obviously at affordable prices subsidies by the City Council. When I was a kid – remembered Bucci – in Nervi, people bought the council houses where they were living. People don’t do that anymore. We want to change this, cause then people will have a house they own, and we’ll be able to reduce costs since we spend a lot of public money for things that end up being destroyed. The action must be spread over several neighbourhoods”.

Selling public houses allowed the administration to make a considerable income, but it was discontinued about ten years ago by the Vincenzi administration. The reason was political: avoiding losing assets that can be rented to whom can’t afford to pay rent at market prices, considering the increasing applications for the assignment of a council house, and the many unmet applications due to the inadequate conditions of the homes.

But now, the City is making a U-turn: “Many people, for example those living in Diga di Begato, are asking to buy houses – confirms the Councillor for housing Francesca Fassio – If people were the owners of the house where they live, they would take better care of them. It would help us requalifying the neighbourhoods with a high concentration of council estates and reducing costs. However, we’re not thinking about a massive sale”.

The other solution is intervening to have a more balanced distribution of council houses all over the city. “We’re negotiating with private investors – explained Bucci – to act on three or four neighbourhoods of Genoa with a high concentration of council estates to have the houses scattered throughout several areas: the old town, the eastern and western outskirts, not only on the hills. I know it will take time, but somebody has to start, and we’re ready to do it”.

As the project takes shape, it will be easier to understand whether the mayor is intending to demolish the old houses and building new ones, or rather a restyling. “Since some properties require a significant amount of work, such the heating system in Begato – notes Councillor Fassio – we might take the opportunity to “unburden” some of them. I’m not thinking though at tearing down entire buildings”. However, the demolition of a part or the whole Diga di Begato has been discussed for about ten years.

Source: Secolo XIX

Translator: Cristina Ambrosi

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