On November 16th, the opening session of the technical table was held at the headquarters of the Department of Labor, Social Affairs and Families to achieve the adaptation of the Catalan legal system to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability approved by the Organization of the United Nations, on December 13, 2006, ratified by Spain and the European Union.
One of the researchers of the Housing Chair, Andrés Labella, has joined the work team, proposed at the request of the entities Cocemfe Catalunya and Dincat, with the aim of focusing on private law, especially on issues related to the right to independent life and in the community included in article 19 of the Convention and on all aspects related to housing and protection measures, both personal and physical.
In this sense, the main goal will be to offer proposals so that the new ordinance suppresses the outdated terminology and modifies the articles that cause discrimination. As regards the material content of the right to independent life, the implementation into the new civil legislation of the basic elements for the configuration of community environments as a support network so as to fight against social isolation and to boost balance of family life and work, from a gender perspective and sustainability of cities and communities, will be proposed.
The UNESCO Housing Chair has been accepted as a new associated academic partner of the European Federation for Living (EFL), thus becoming the first Spanish member. The EFL has currently 60 members, which represent 14 European countries and more than 1.2 million housing in Europe. This network has a unique combination ofsocial housing providers, private stakeholders and universities and other research networks.
Thanks to its composition, the EFL is an active and dynamic network. Projects are developed in order to give options and solutions to the needs identified by the stakeholders of the sector (e.g. Circular Housing Asset and Renovation Management, Housing Association strategic alliances and mergers and post-merger Integration and IT Solutions for independent living). It also has different Topic Groups that meet periodically to share expertise and best practices about certain topics, for example, onsocial domain, energy efficient buildings, digitalisation, accessible and intergenerational living and financing and investments. Furthermore, conferences, seminars and workshops are organised throughout the year, where ideas, needs, knowledge, expertise and research outputs are shared.
Therefore, the UNESCO Housing Chair will be able to enrich its work at the same time that it contributes to the EFL with its knowledge and research outputs on a variety of fields within housing studies. Moreover, the combination of housing providers, private companies and academia enables the implementation of two of the Housing Chair cornerstones: knowledge transfer and social impact.
More information about the European Federation for Living in https://www.ef-l.eu
Dr. Héctor Simón attended the First Meeting of the Leonardo Network, which brings together those researchers from the different scientific areas who have been awarded a Leonardo grant in the last five years. Dr. Simón was awarded a grant in 2015 to study “The improvement of the reverse mortgage from the European and North American perspective”. The constitution of this network, at the initiative of the BBVA Foundation, aims to give visibility to the research undertaken by the researchers. More information is available on the website https://www.redleonardo.es.
The director of the Chair, Dr. Sergio Nasarre, was invited to participate in the event “Catalunya Sud 2040” organized on 8 November by the Chair of the Region of Knowledge of the URV where strategies were discussed with other agents of the territory on the future of our region.
Project “Collaborative housing”
At first, the collaborative economy had been associated only with positive values. Thus, it allows access to goods and services to consumers with lower purchasing power (for example, to travel or move) (Ranchordás, 2015) and even allows them to invest in goods that were traditionally forbidden through crowdfunding. It has even been predicated on the collaborative economy that is beneficial for the environment (eg sharing a transport vehicle) (Pickell, 2015).
However, it is not so clear that the collaborative economy brings only advantages. Although in the first place the most affected “traditional” businesses (against the taxi and hotel sectors) rose up against it, today it is already evident that the collaborative economy often replaces some companies with others (it is, in short, a business for online companies), which involves eliminating jobs in exchange for hiring inexperienced and precarious subjects (eg, Über drivers already request labor rights, see the “Fightfor $ 15” movement) and is causing abuses with consumers (Molist , 2017).
Well, if we focus on housing as an object of the collaborative economy, it must be remembered that this is the only good that is, at the same time, a human right and a powerful financial asset (Nasarre-Aznar, 2017), which makes it especially complex its study and its normative framework. Think, also, that the housing is at the origin of the crisis of 2007 (and, therefore, that it has been one of the triggers of the collaborative economy, as mentioned) and has been one of the most damaged by its consequences in the form of evictions in many European countries.
Thus, on the one hand, the collaborative phenomenon presents important opportunities to reduce intermediation costs in the sale and mortgage of real estate and is also related to recent phenomena that aim to unite people, such as co-housing or shared ownership (Nasarre-Aznar dir ., 2017); but it is not free of risks and that they deserve an adequate legal treatment.
Therefore, it is essential to determine if the collaborative phenomenon is helping or is harming people’s access to housing. We start with the following two hypotheses:
a) That, on the one hand, there are some types of “collaborative housing” that are apparently facilitating access to housing for families. They can be mechanisms such as intermediate holdings (see Simón et al., 2017), cooperatives or cohousing. At the same time, the so-called “collaborative economy 2.0” or disintermediated seems to be contributing to reduce the time and transaction costs with real estate. For example, countries like Sweden, Canada, China or Ecuador are already starting to use it.
b) On the other hand, however, other types of “collaborative housing”, such as tourism, are contributing to increase rents in key cities such as Barcelona, Berlin or Palma de Mallorca, while negatively affecting the progressive gentrification of cities and negatively affecting coexistence in communities of owners and neighborhoods (Lambea, 2016). At the same time, crowdfunding applied to real estate does not seem to be helping to develop affordable housing (Kim and Hann, 2017), and may even be contributing to speculation (Pierce-Wright, 2016) with a human right.
The ultimate objective of this project is the analysis of the legal framework and implications derived from the so-called “collaborative housing”, that is to say in what way the legal framework of the various “collaborative phenomena” influences in favoring or ballasting access to the housing and how it should be reformulated to favor or mitigate these effects, respectively.
Co-ordinated research project “Vivienda colaborativa” (DER2017-84726-C3-1-P) of the Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad. Project R+D Spanish program for excellent scientific and technical research.
On Tuesday 5th of March the UNESCO Housing Chair developed the beta test of the simulation experience El Umbral in La Salle school (based on the documentary film of the same name and the 2016 report asked for by the European Commission (https://goo.gl/goNzWt)) about homelessness with success.
Last Tuesday 24th of April a network to assist people at risk of housing was presented in Reus. This event was supported by Montserrat Vilella, councillor of the social welfare department of the Reus City Council, as well as other persons and entities related to this field.
Prof. Dr. Sergio Nasarre Aznar, Civil Law Full Professor and director of the UNESCO Housing Chair of URV, and Ms. Núria Lambea Llop, presented the European Study entitled Pilot Project – Promoting protection of the right to housing – Homelessness prevention in the context of evictions. This project was developed by the UNESCO Housing Chair and other international experts, covering the right to housing in Europe and the relationship between evictions and homelessness. Other entities from this network also participated and proposed different ways to help homeless people. The aim of this event is to create synergies between social entities to be able to help homeless people in their process to improve their personal autonomy and their social and interpersonal relationships.