“Lloguem!/ Yes We Rent” tackles a dramatic lack of affordable rental housing in the city of Mataró. It is characterised by deregulation, atomised ownership, a small rental housing segment, almost inexistent social housing, and a city council with few competencies. The economic crisis and its social consequences have aggravated the situation particularly now that housing prices are on the rise again. The rising housing costs threaten the well-being of a significant proportion of residents, as well as the city’s future and its capacity to provide opportunities for those who live there.
Mataró´s housing market is typical for cities in Southern European and beyond: it is characterised by deregulation, a high share of owner-occupied housing (75%), and a social housing sector (281 units) that is totally unproportionate to demand (1400 households are currently on the waiting list). Representing just 19% of the market, the rental segment has little elasticity, and prices are highly volatile. The city is vulnerable in front of a new affordability crisis, an increase in the number of rent arrears and evictions, as well as people at risk of poverty.
“Lloguem!/ Yes We Rent” aims at generating an accessible housing stock targeting low-to-medium income households using properties that have been left empty and off the market. With the offer of guaranteed rent and financial and organisational support to renovate their properties, the project will incentivise risk-averse owners to rent to the affordable housing scheme at below-market prices.
The expected key results and benefits include:
– Mobilising a significant stock of empty flats, preferably long-term vacant flats.
– The renovation of the city’s stock of long-term empty flats, focusing on energy efficiency through the application of energy-saving measures.
– Setting up a stock of flats that will be rented below market price, fostering affordable housing. The stock of flats mobilised by the project should be sufficient to grant the sustainability of the cooperative in the long run so that the model can be tested and replicated.
– The creation of, at least, one tenants’ cooperative will gather and empower engaged citizens and contribute to balancing the relations between tenants and owners.
– The creation of a new public-communitarian framework of cooperation between the local council and the cooperative set-up within the framework of the project. This new way of cooperation could bereplicated with other cooperative or established civil society organizations that may arise targeting other housing initiatives. Public-communitarian cooperation would broaden the scope of public housing policies regarding the number of units and the diversity of beneficiaries.
“Lloguem!/Yes We Rent” builds up a temporary accessible housing scheme based on empty privately-owned housing and run by a tenants’ cooperative, framed within the public programs of affordable housing.
It thereby aims to provide a blueprint, an organisational and economic model for a smart housing intervention. Based on a relatively small initial investment, it will gradually expand until it reaches a critical share of the rental market in order to increase affordable housing opportunities for tenants.
Although there are other cooperatives managing their own rental housing stock, “Lloguem!/Yes We Rent” proposes the first tenants’ cooperative in Europe dealing with privately-owned flats, scattered around the city, managed by a cooperative, driven by the values of the social and solidarity economy.
The project also aims to test the potential of an affordable housing scheme based on the leasehold of vacant private property as an intervention that can be economically sustainable, scalable, and transferable. Hence, the project could potentially become a new public programme of affordable housing, provided and managed by an innovative collaboration of public-communitarian cooperation.