Ten years without public promotions of housing with official protection in Reus

It has been a decade since new public housing developments with official protection (VPO) have been built in Reus, that is, with a limited price in order to favor access to housing for citizens with lower incomes. La Patacada was the last of these characteristics and it was in 2012, with Redessa, from the Reus City Council, as promoter. The future project of the old Hispània, in the Riera de Miró, will be next. When it becomes a reality, it will break with the dynamics of the last ten years, adding sixty new flats. However, is this enough?

"There is no public park and accessing it is like a lottery", denounces Guillem Aragonès, a member of the Reus Housing Union. He remembers the long waiting list to obtain a house with official protection, with around 300 people in the Register of Applicants for Houses with Official Protection of Reus. Faced with "the lack of alternatives, most people are forced to work," he admits.

Sandra Casanova, spokesperson for the Platform for People Affected by Mortgages (PAH) in Reus, expresses herself along the same lines. “We need a social housing park, with affordable rents. There are many projects that remain just that: projects », laments Casanova, who recalls that Reus is« a stressed city ». In fact, it is one of the 72 Catalan municipalities considered to be an area of ​​strong and accredited residential demand, according to the Generalitat.

That there is a lack of officially subsidized housing is an issue that even the construction sector in Reus warns about although, yes, they point out that it is the public administration that has to take the reins given that "in the end a company has to take out its own business". All in all, the number of VPOs is practically stagnant, around 2,549 homes in Reus, of which 246 are public developers, whether they are the City Council or the Generalitat. What entities such as the Sindicat d'Habitatge or the PAH are asking is whether the solution is to build new housing.

Aragonès, from the Sindicat, believes that the lack of a social housing stock is not due to building, but because the public administration manages empty homes, for example. "If they are sold, they are flats that end up on the market, and we are in the same situation." He also thinks about the new construction: "Business is given to construction companies", to speculation and that is why what is necessary is, from his point of view, "to make daring public policies". For Aragonès, proposals that may be interesting are put on the table, "but they do not end up being translated into real measures." “If there is a registry of large holders of empty homes, but nothing is done, if it is not sanctioned, if prices are regulated but then it is sabotaged, what is the use?” he asks.

The difficulties of many families do not seem to improve either, but on the contrary, with the increase in prices, both for energy bills and for basic necessities. "The situation is increasingly precarious," denounces Sandra Casanova. “There are more families that cannot afford mortgages”, which is why she reiterates the claim for the need for “a housing stock that is decent”.

37 new VPOs

In the last five years, the city of Reus has only gained 37 new homes with official protection, according to data available from the Agència de l'Habitatge de Catalunya. These are apartments with this regime completed between 2021 and 2017 and all of them are from private developers. In this same period, 53 began to be built, which shows a small reactivation. And it is that since 2012 not a single house of this type was built in the city. The first rebound was in 2018, when two VPOs were started, and in 2019 there were already 28. After the break in 2020 due to the pandemic, last year there were 23 started homes. At the same time, in 2012, construction of 114 VPOs was completed and, after two completely dry years, in 2015 there was a small rebound with 46 VPOs completed. Last year it was 30.

As was mentioned, all these houses with official protection started and finished in recent years have been totally private developers. There have been no public promotions for a decade. There are a total of eleven existing ones: seven for rent, with 189 flats; and four for purchase, with 174. Those for rent are Patacada, Mas Bertran, Mas Bertran II and Granja Massó (with Reus City Council, Redessa, as promoter), Pla de Xoc, Plaza del Baluard and number 10 -12 Sant Pancraç street (Generalitat). For purchase they are a promotion of Mas Iglesias and 10 Abadia street (Generalitat), in Astorga and Immaculada street (by FIBS).

Now, they are waiting for the promotion of the old Hispània to become a reality. For now, the City Council will have to manage the contamination of a sector of the site (currently a blue zone car park) under the supervision of the Agència Catalana de Residus. Formerly, there were some old garages at this point and, in one area, there is lead contamination. Once the decontamination has been carried out, the works can be carried out, with which, in addition to creating 60 houses with official protection, there will be three free rental apartments and a three-storey underground municipal car park with capacity for 330 cars. The forecast is that almost 16 million euros will be invested.

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