Two tendering processes are to be offered for a total of four plots of land to be used for the construction of nearly three hundred protected homes. Two of the sites will be awarded to housing cooperatives through surface rights, while the other two will go to non-profit organisations to create affordable rented homes.
The simultaneous tendering processes represent the implementation of a new municipal model for awarding sites to entities and cooperatives which until now collaborated with the City Council via covenants. According to the Councillor for Housing, Josep Maria Montaner, the public competitions imply two major changes compared to previous processes, one of them being open competition. “Covenants were created directly before, but now we consider it’s important they come via a tendering process, due to questions of transparency and their being public buildings”, noted Montaner.
The other change relates to the ownership of the land, which will remain publicly owned in the future. “One of the premises of this City Council is that publicly-owned land must always remain so, because in the past ownership was passed onto to these foundations and cooperatives”, noted the councillor.
In the case of sites for cooperatives, what are being sold to the cooperative are the surface rights for a period of 75 years, with an option to extend that period to 90 years. That means the cooperative has the rights over what is built on the land but that the land remains municipally-owned. The sites being offered out to tender are in Av. Estatut de Catalunya, in the district of Horta-Guinardó, and C/Aiguablava, in the district of Nou Barris. In all, 161 homes are expected to be built with this system and different regulations will ensure their social and public use.
Foundations and non-profit organisations
Foundations and non-profit organisations in with a chance of managing one of the other sites (Av. Escolapi Càncer, in Nou Barris, and C/ Bolívia, in Sant Martí) should offer limited rent prices equivalent to or less than the prices set out by law for protected homes (7.28 euros per square metres). These homes will be awarded to people on the waiting list in Barcelona. A total of 115 homes are due to be built with these characteristics, all of them for rent.
Diversification of models
The two new public competitions complete the range of different formulas set out in the Right to Housing Plan 2016-2025 and, according to Montaner, clearly show the municipal preference for diversification. “We can’t waste any opportunity and we have to innovate with new ways of multiplying affordable housing in Barcelona”, he declared.
This diversification is shown not just via the current tendering processes for cooperatives and foundations, but also via the various existing models: the direct promotion of public housing, driven by the Municipal Housing and Renovation Institute (currently the Municipal Housing Trust), the promotion of cohousing (with five cooperative projects tendered and under way at five sites), and the promotion of housing using a mixed public and private operator, to be constituted in the next few months.