Between today and tomorrow, the FHAR (Forum on Housing and Rehabilitation) brings together a dozen round tables with the participation of local and international members from cities such as Paris, Berlin, Vienna and Bologna, as well as academia, social organisations and private enterprise.

The Forum will serve to discuss the increase in public rental housing and new formulas for collaboration to increase affordable housing.

A new edition of the Barcelona Housing and Rehabilitation Forum (FHAR) began this Tuesday, with the focus on the role of cities in the provision of social and affordable housing in times of pandemic. This is the second edition of the forum, held for the first time in 2019 to reflect on the future challenges of the sector. In this year’s edition, the sessions revolve around formulas for increasing the stock of public rental housing and new formulas for collaboration between the public administration and the social, cooperative and private for-profit sectors. In this second edition, around 700 registrations have been received each day to follow all the sessions, both online and in person.

In this respect, the strong impetus provided by Barcelona City Council in these two areas is particularly noteworthy. On the one hand, in 2021 the City Council will achieve historic levels of public housing construction, with 2,300 homes under construction or close to being started, and land mobilised for the construction of a total of 6,000 flats. On the other hand, this mandate has seen the materialisation of innovative policies both in construction with industrialised methods of collaboration and delegated promotion, with formulas with the private sector in Vivienda Metrópolis Barcelona to build 2,250 homes in the city and 2,250 more in the metropolitan area; and with the social and cooperative sector, such as the agreement with non-profit organisations for the construction of 1,000 more flats.

Local and international experts to expand the public housing stock
For two days, international experts such as Ricky Burdett, director of the LSE Cities, from the prestigious London School of Economics, and representatives of cities such as the deputy mayor of Paris, Ian Brossat, the Berlin councillor Florian Schmidt, the member of the Executive Council of the International Union of Tenants, Barbara Steenberg, and the head of Housing Policy of Dublin City Council, Daíthí Downey, among others, will be visiting the modernist premises of the Hospital de Santo Pablo. The FHAR aims to share in a single space the best experiences and challenges at European and international level with those present in Barcelona and elsewhere in Spain. In addition to the Councillor for Housing and Rehabilitation of Barcelona City Council, Lucia Martín, they will share space with the head of Innovation of the Euskadi Observatory, Elena Sánchez.

During the first sessions, they will debate the formulas for increasing the public rental housing stock in the context of the impact of the pandemic, as well as the transparency and use of public data. Another topic of debate will be innovation in public housing promotion, with the cases of Vienna, by the former councillor Maria Vassilakou; of the Balearic Islands, with the Director General of the Balearic Housing Institute, Cristina Ballester; of Seville, with the Director of the Municipal Housing Company, Felipe Castro; and the Manager of the Municipal Housing and Rehabilitation Institute of Barcelona (IMHAB), Gerard Capó.

Collaboration with the social and cooperative housing sector and with private limited-profit organisations
The second day of the FHAR will focus on new models of collaboration to increase the stock of affordable housing, with successful experiences at European level, on the one hand, and Barcelona’s promotion of delegated development with for-profit and non-profit organisations, on the other.

Firstly, the Housing 2030 initiative will be presented by its main author, Julie Lawson, together with the experiences of London, with the head of Communities Hannah Emery-Wright, and Bologna, with the deputy mayor Emily Clancy. Secondly, the FHAR will host a round table on Vivienda Metrópolis Barcelona, the mixed operator promoted by Barcelona City Council and the NOC to build 4,500 affordable rental homes in the city and the metropolitan area. Speakers will include the CEO of Savills Aguirre Newman, Anna Gener, the CEO of Neinor Homes, one of the operator’s two private partners, Borja García-Egotxeaga, and the Housing Manager of Barcelona City Council, Javier Burón.

In terms of collaboration with the social and cooperative housing sector, the City Council’s alliance with housing foundations and cooperatives will serve as a starting point for reflection and debate on the role of these social organisations, with the head of the Housing Department’s Cabinet, Vanesa Valiño, the member of La Hidra Cooperativa Laia Forné, the President of the Salas Foundation on behalf of Cohabitac, Manuel Rodríguez, and the coordinator of the La Dinamo Foundation, Gloria Rubio.

Barcelona, a driving force in policies and in reflection and innovation
Since 2015, municipal housing policies have intensified to address the housing emergency and the shortage of public rental housing, both in terms of implementing measures to correct decades of policies in the opposite direction, and to create the necessary spaces to debate and reflect on the right to housing and the future of the sector. The FHAR, organised by IMHAB, is one of the main examples, and is part of the cycle of seminars and conferences promoted since 2016 by the Barcelona City Council.

This strategy also includes the first multidisciplinary chair in Housing, jointly promoted by the City Council, the Generalitat, the Ministry of Transport, Mobility and the Urban Agenda, and the four public universities in Barcelona, the UB, the UPF, the UAB and the UPC. The aim is to create the first official master’s degree studies in housing in Spain, as well as to organise workshops and postgraduate courses, and to participate in competitive research projects at both national and international level, with the production of reports and academic articles. The Barcelona Housing Studies Chair will have to serve for the production of policy papers, i.e. for advising public administrations and organising congresses and seminars to achieve knowledge transfer.

More information about the Chair