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Madrid Election Talk: Social housing, evictions, empty flats and Blackstone

19 April 2021

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Can’t vote? You CAN be a part of the conversation!

Madrid Election Talk has been created for the May 4, 2021 Madrid elections to inform and empower anyone who lives in Madrid but who does not have the right to vote. By knowing our local politics, we can talk to our friends, our colleagues, our neighbours and our family-in-law and help influence voter turnout of The Left and stop Ayuso being re-elected!

Over the last 26 years, the right-wing government have sold off most of Madrid’s social housing, leaving the stock at an all-time low. Let’s break down why this process harms young people, migrants, women, single parents and the elderly, and what Madrid’s left-wing vs right-wing parties are pledging to do about it.

Just 2.5% of homes in Spain are social housing.

Social housing stock in Spain currently accounts for just 2.5% of all dwellings, according to a report published by Amnesty International on extreme poverty in Spain. This is compared to 30% in the Netherlands, 24% in Austria, 17.6% in the UK or 16.8% in France. In the last 12 years, over 600,000 homes across Spain have been repossessed, and 30% of all empty housing in Europe is in Spain – around 3.5 million homes.

In Madrid, 280,000 homes lie empty.

Madrid is the epicentre of property speculation, explains PAH housing activist Alejandra Jacinto, who also cites that around 280,000 flats lie empty across the Madrid region. Property prices in Madrid have doubled in the last five years, and even the small pandemic-related dip in prices is expected to be cancelled out by the end of the year as the right-wing PP pins their hopes on tourism (and therefore tourist apartment rentals) saving the day.

The PP have sold 4,800 council homes to vulture funds.

The PP have sold around 4,800 social housing units to foreign investment trusts Goldman Sachs and Blackstone. Walk along any street in Madrid and you’ll likely see a bricked-up window or door, which is a house that has been evicted and commandeered for speculative purposes.

[Property speculation: Tenants are evicted and the property remains empty for years until demand in the local area increases, and therefore rental prices increase. At this point, the empty flat is put back on the market at inflated price. This practice is employed by individual owners, vulture funds and also banks.]

Tenants now spend over 50% of their income on rent.

Señora Ayuso, the PP candidate standing in the upcoming regional election, does not see housing as a right but rather as a consumer good. With the full financial impact of the Covid-19 economic crisis yet to be felt, the Madrid regional government needs to pass a law fast in order to ban the eviction of vulnerable residents.

Renting private housing is dangerous for vulnerable tenants: migrants, women, single parents and the elderly.

This shortage of social housing has had a devastating impact on low-income families, especially those who have been evicted. The lack of adequate social housing stock has meant that many families have had no choice but to seek housing in the private rental market, where they have to pay higher rents. This pushes their financial status even closer to the breadline, and the next step is eviction. Amnesty International also reports that since 2008, over 1.2 million people have been evicted from their homes across Spain.

Right-wing vs. left-wing response:

The Right wants to continue selling off public housing, refuses to regulate rents, and plans to build no more public housing. The Left (and particularly the Far-Left)wants to increase the amount of public housing, stop investment companies buying up social housing, regulate rent prices so that young people and families can afford to pay rent, and ban evictions of vulnerable people. The Left also wants to stop property speculation by placing residents into all empty homes.

What are we voting for?

  • To stop the selling-off of social housing to private companies!
  • To build more social housing!
  • To regulate rent prices!
  • To fill empty homes!
  • To stop evictions once and for all!

#stopevictions #stopdesahucios


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For four and a half years, I’ve been driven to bring you real-life stories told by the very communities that don’t receive the coverage they deserve. Understand how racism, exploitation and poverty are pre-assigned fates chosen by those in power, and how communities experiencing this are overcoming it together. 

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