Coinciding with World Cities Day, Barcelona hosted the launch of the international campaign ‘Make the Shift’, promoted by the UN to combat gentrification and the transformation of housing into a business commodity, far removed from its social function. The presentation was part of meeting by the main global network of cities and local and regional governments, with the Mayor, Ada Colau, taking the opportunity to denounce speculation relating to existing housing in Barcelona.
‘Make the Shift’ sets out the need for an alliance of world cities to halt speculative moves by major international investment funds and to stand up for housing as a social asset. The campaign aims to set up a global platform to force governments to change their relationship with the financial sector and regulate the market to be able to ensure the right to decent housing.
During the campaign presentation, the Mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, took advantage of the presence of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing, Lailani Farha, to highlight the issue of housing in the city. “On top of the historical deficit of public housing, we have to add the progressive deregulation of the property market and the global dynamic of speculation”, denounced Colau.
“In Barcelona, as many as 38 entire buildings have been bought by speculative investment funds and residents are being pressured into leaving what has always been their home”, explained Colau. In terms of deregulation, the Mayor noted that rent contracts have been reduced to three years because state law allows for it, and that there is no correlation between rent prices, “which go up arbitrarily”, and the spending power of the population.
The Mayor pointed to Norvet, Renta Corporación, Vauras Investment and MK Premium as examples of investment funds which, through bad practice, do not take into account the surroundings and prompt the expulsion of residents in order to carry out opaque deals. She also called on the representatives from cities to fight together for global regulation against property speculation.
The international meeting, promoted by the CGLU and the United Nations, concluded with the Barcelona Manifesto, outlining some of the main action to be taken within the framework of the new municipalist network to defend the right to housing and the city.