The chaos of public housing in Madrid: there are almost 1,000 empty, and more than 2,300 squats | Madrid

Isabel Díaz Ayuso, on Monday at an informative breakfast organized by the digital newspaper ‘El Debate’.Isabel Infantes (Europe Press)

In the Madrid of housing with skyrocketing prices, prohibitive rents, and the twelve Hercules tests to meet the requirements of landlords, the Regional Administration has 913 empty public housing units (4% of the total) and 2,319 squats (9% ). To these data, obtained by EL PAÍS in application of the transparency law, another is added: of the 255 public homes evicted by court order since 2018, only 62 (24%) have been used again. Just when the Community has just decided to pay 107 million euros to the Encasa Cibeles fund as compensation for recovering (forced by justice) 1,721 of the 2,935 apartments that it sold in 2011, these statistics lead the opposition to denounce the management of the public park of homes in the region.

“The Community of Madrid is committed to people with the greatest social needs,” says a government spokesman. “We must bear in mind that in October 1,721 flats derived from the Encasa Cibeles process entered the public social housing network,” he recalls. “As soon as the homes were received, the professionals from the social housing area assisted all the families, first by letter, and then by phone and in person, and made an inventory to see the global situation of the properties: they valued for its repair and tuning a total of 319 units”, he adds about an operation that requires investments of up to 20,000 euros per floor, in the case of those in the worst condition, and that can last up to three months per property.

The integration of the Encasa Cibeles apartments into the public housing stock explains why the number of unused public residences has skyrocketed from 491 in 2020 to 913 in 2022, according to the Government. The opposition, however, argues that the thousand empty public flats have nothing to do with an exceptional circumstance such as the recovery of homes sold for 201 million in 2011 to the fund controlled by Goldman Sachs. On the contrary, Más Madrid, PSOE and Podemos describe a chronic problem, and argue that, in their opinion, behind this situation lies a commitment to favor the private market.

“The PP mistreats the heritage of the people of Madrid,” laments Jorge Moruno, a deputy for Más Madrid. “Not only does it put us at the bottom of Europe in public housing (0.3 social housing for every 100 inhabitants when the EU average is 3.8), it also abandons what little there is,” he argues. “We have thousands of families in situations of special need on the waiting list, and more than 2,300 squatted homes,” he adds. And he concludes: “This is the result of their policy of abandonment: desperate families with minors and homeless and the proliferation of clans and mafias, as occurs in the Ensanche de Vallecas, on Embalse del Vellón street.”

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“It is one more example of the lack of interest that the Community of Madrid has in the management and quality of life of the people of Madrid,” Juan Lobato, the leader of the socialists in the region, continues. “Having 1,000 empty and unemployed public housing when 80% of young people up to 30 years old are not able to emancipate themselves because of how unaffordable housing is!”, He exclaims. “It’s very serious,” he insists.

“The Social Housing Agency (AVS) has an absolutely neglected housing stock. Proof of this is that of the homes it has, at least 1,000 have them unused, while there is a volume of applications that amounts to about 40,000 in the last five years, with about 15,000 rejected in that period”, concludes Alejandra Jacinto , from Podemos, and one of the lawyers who got the Justice to force the Community to recover the 1,721 homes sold in 2011 to Encasa Cibeles. “The degradation of the social housing stock is not accidental, it is a political commitment to encourage the model of access to housing in the private market,” she denounces. “In fact, the contempt for a true public housing stock became evident when they decided to sell off 2,935 public housing units to a vulture fund that justice now forces to recover.”

The AVS owns more than 25,000 homes. Of these, 3,469 (14% of the total) were not being used for their intended purpose in mid-April. What happens to them? The Executive assures that 3 are not susceptible to commercialization, 32 are in the process of contracting, 202 partitioned to proceed with their demolition, and 913 in the process of being awarded (which includes 704 under repair, 163 already repaired and not awarded, 27 under surveillance and 19 pending the inauguration). This Monday, that figure was updated to 918. In addition, the AVS recognizes that it has 2,319 homes “occupied without title”.

“Most (of the squats) have occurred for administrative reasons after the termination of a contract of relatives or close friends,” explains a government spokesman.

That figure is loaded with political significance. Since she first came to power in August 2019, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, the regional president, has championed the fight against squatting, encouraging voters to fear that her homes will be invaded by strangers. The data, however, reflect that half of the homes in this situation are public. And that it is the Administration that has in its power to solve the bulk of the problem.

This is shown, for example, by a recent contract from the Community of Madrid: 319 Encasa Cibeles flats remain unused half a year after the Community recovered them, and since the Government is unable to make them available to families in need , it has had to spend 136,245.54 euros on alarms and special doors so that no one squats.

“There has been an unexpected delay in the award times compared to what was initially planned, as a result of a greater number and scope of the conditioning works required for the occupation by the new tenants, which has been progressively verified by the technicians as the pertinent inspections were being carried out”, argues the Administration in the contract. Meanwhile, thousands of vulnerable families wait to obtain public housing in the Community of Madrid.

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