When you walk through Mataró, a city of 127,000 inhabitants 34 km north-east of Barcelona at the Costa del Maresme, you might not realize it at first sight, but the city has more than 2.800 private empty flats. At the same time an increasing number of the inhabitants are overburdened by the rental housing cost or they have little access to the private rental market, in particular younger people. Since 2015, rental prices in Mataró have been growing by 27 %. The expenses for rent can be significantly over a 1/3 of the monthly income. Moreover, there is a dramatic shortage of affordable housing in the city. The city’s social housing sector is totally incommensurate to demand. It comprises just 265 units while 1400 households are currently on the waiting list.
The ‘Yes, we rent!’ project of the city of Mataró aims to increase the number of affordable, privately rented flats in the city and improve their accessibility to households with difficulties in the private rental housing market. Key to this is a cooperative-based housing approach, which incentivises owners of empty flats to rehabilitate their flats and rent it below market price through the cooperative.
In order to evaluate the successes and impact of the project the city of Mataró developed with the support of Mataró-Maresme and the Institute on Government and Public Policy () of the Autonomous University of Barcelona an evaluation scheme, for which implementation the two partners are in charge. The monitoring is done with a view to evaluate:
- Housing market changes: the changes in the provision and accessibility as well as the quality of affordable rental flats in Mataró.
- Institutional changes: the institutional and governance changes in the city administration for the provision of affordable rental housing.
- Organisational changes: the economical and institutional capability of a cooperative to take on the function of an organiser and mediator between owners of vacant flats and household looking for affordable rental accommodation.
- Personal changes: the effects on the lifes of the cooperative members who can enjoy affordable housing and the willingness of owners to let their vacant flats below market price.
Based on the evaluation results the city of Mataró intends to take decisions on the continuity of the project and its possible scalability. The evaluation aims also at the replication of the project in other cities in Catalonia.