Social Rights

The Generalitat commits to increasing social housing by 5,000 units

Minister Cervera announces a plan to facilitate care for the elderly at home

2 min
Violant Cervera

BarcelonaThe Catalan Minister of Social Rights, Violant Cervera, has promised this Friday to gain "a minimum of 5,000 social housing units" in the next four years to try to alleviate the structural deficit of affordable housing in Catalonia. In her first appearance in committee to present what will be the programmatic axes of his department, which incorporates the housing portfolio, she stressed that next year the budget for housing policies will increase from the current €200m to €1bn.

Cervera has made a speech listing the priorities of the Ministry, without going into details of measures, schedules or budgets, but has put housing and the fight against poverty as two of the top priorities. To expand the stock of public housing, the councillor has clarified that from now on it will not be her department that is responsible for the construction, but will encourage and coordinate other actors - municipalities, construction companies, banks - to build new developments. The department will also try to bring more flats onto the market, as many of them are empty while at the same time families are being evicted daily.

In this sense, Cervera has recovered the old demand of previous governments that the State transfer to the Generalitat the assets of the Sareb -the so-called bad bank-, which currently has some 3,000 empty homes in Catalonia, as he said, and has insisted that he wants to strengthen the government's priority over other parties in the operation of sale and purchase of housing, which already allowed the expansion of publicly owned housing with more than 3,000 flats. In addition, the minister will also talk to councils so they "mobilise all existing municipal land" to develop this affordable housing.

Reduce waiting lists

The goal, Cervera said, is to reduce waiting lists for social housing at the Bureau for Social Emergency, a body formed by charities that was launched in the midst of the pandemic as an emergency response to evictions

As for the fight against poverty, Cervera has assured that the department will increase the budget for the guaranteed citizen income, a benefit the Generalitat currently hands out to 160,000 people at risk of exclusion. Against poverty, she has announced a National Plan against homelessness, long requested by organisations working with people living on the street or in housing without hygienic conditions.

Residential model

After more than a year, the Social Rights Dpt recovers full powers over nursing homes, which had been transferred urgently to the Health Dpt in order to address the high incidence and mortality due to covid during the first months of the pandemic. Cervera maintains the goal of a new model for care homes, in the spotlight over treatment of residents, and to take on another of the commitments inherited from prior governments: the care model for personal autonomy, which has to allow older people who want to stay at home and not go to a home. This will mean increasing the provision of home care services, also for people with disabilities and major dependents.

On this point, a new Integral Social and Health Agency will be a basic tool to "improve care", she said, because once it comes into operation - no dates have beet set - the Departments of Health and Social Rights will provide more information and protocols for action in care homes, one of the deficits that was discovered during the pandemic. In addition, the minister announced that it will create the new figure of "social reference", a professional on social issues that all citizens would have assigned since birth", as in the case of health professionals.