Sareb Grants Colau 200 Flats For Families In Need

17 December 2015 – La Vanguardia

Sareb has granted 200 flats to the Town Hall of Barcelona, which will be allocated under the social housing regime to families that are unable to access housing through their own means. The municipal housing services will receive the keys to the first 50 homes today, which will be included in the Emergency Social Committee’s list of available properties to be awarded to families in need.

“We were appointed to the municipal government to make things like this happen”, said the mayoress Ada Colau yesterday, as she announced that an agreement had been signed with Sareb, also known as the “bad bank”. Colau did not hide her satisfaction about the agreement, which was “achieved through good faith and not through the enforcement of any laws”, although she added: “It is a very important first step, but we are not satisfied yet; we need many more properties for use as emergency homes”.

The agreement was signed last Thursday by the Housing Councillor Josep María Montaner and Sareb’s Director of Corporate Social Responsibility, Gaspar Gonzálex Palenzuela. It is the first agreement of its kind to be signed between the entity and a town hall. “Our objective is to reach agreements with other large owners of empty flats”, said Colau. In other words, to acquire flats “in good faith”.

The other route, “the hard way”, involves imposing sanctions on owners who keep flats empty for more than two years. A few months ago, the Town Hall of Barcelona imposed around twenty sanctions on banking institutions. Seven of the sanctions related to Sareb, including those relating to three of the flats that have now been ceded.

Most of the flats are in Nou Barris and are illegally occupied

The first 50 empty flats granted by Sareb are located in six of Barcelona’s ten districts: Nou Barris (16 flats), Sants-Montjuïc (5), Sant Martí (4), Sant Andreu (12), Horta-Guinardó (10) and Ciutat Vella (3). The effective use of these homes will be actioned in a matter of days, according to the Town Hall, although some of the properties need minor repairs and must be connected to the utility networks. The 200 homes will be ceded for eight years.

Half of the homes are currently occupied, illegally or irregularly, and for that reason, the situation of the occupants will be analysed on a case by case basis to determine whether they should be included in the list of applicants for social housing. “We suspect that the majority involve cases of socially vulnerable people”, confirmed the mayoress, but “existing occupants will not receive preferential treatment”.

During the eight-year period, the Town Hall will pay Sareb small amounts (between €75 and €125 per month per home). It will also bear the cost of taxes such as the IBI. The recipients of the homes will be charged a nominal rent on the basis of their income.

On 15 January, the Town Hall will take over the management of another 50 flats (currently occupied); on 15 February it will take over another 50 (also occupied) and in March, it will take over the final 50 (empty) homes subject to the agreement. Colau revealed that she hopes to soon be able to announce more new achievements in her strategy to increase the public stock of social housing, with Sareb and other entities. She specified that the government committee will today approve the acquisition of three homes from Bankia (at prices well below their market values), with whom it has agreed to purchase around twenty homes. (…).

Original story: La Vanguardia (by Lluís Sierra)

Translation: Carmel Drake