Yes We Rent! - Leveraging vacant private property to build up a cooperative affordable housing scheme
“The project 'Yes We Rent' aims at increasing affordable rental housing in the city. We will explore innovative solutions such as the creation of cooperatives of tenants offering favourable conditions to homeowners and, thus, generating an affordable and stable rental supply in the long term. Housing must be a driving force for territorial and social cohesion in the city, an instrument of inclusion”
Yes We Rent! tackles a double challenge: "people without flats, and flats without people” in a context where the housing market is highly deregulated, owner-occupied housing dominates (75%), and the rental market is both small (19%) and highly volatile.
There is a dramatic shortage of affordable housing in the city, and rents have risen by 27% over the last three years. 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. This situation poses problems for the well-being of many residents, as well as the city’s future and its capacity to provide opportunities for those who live there. Meanwhile, there are some 3.500 “flats without people” – properties sitting empty because their owners do not have the resources to renovate them, or are afraid of tenants not paying their rents.
Yes We Rent! will generate an accessible housing stock targeting medium income households using properties that have been left empty and off the market. By offering a guaranteed rent, and financial and organisational support to renovate properties, the project will incentivise risk averse owners to rent to the affordable housing scheme at below market prices. It will also keep part of the benefits in order to consolidate and grow its offering.
Additionally, Yes We Rent! tests an organisational model of a multi-stakeholder coop, which can be publicly funded and controlled, while drawing on the empowerment and self-management potential of cooperatives. Tenants will be trained and incentivised to engage in self-help, empowerment, joint development of housing related services, and recruitment of new flats.
- Mataró City Council
- Fundació Unió de Cooperadors - NGO
- Fundació Jovent - NGO
- Diputació de Barcelona - provincial authority
- IGOP - research partner
- TecnoCampus. - research partner
By exploring the capacity of the social and cooperative sector to (self) produce affordable housing, ‘Yes we rent!’ has the ambition to redefine roles and relations in the local rental housing market.
Yes We Rent! will make rental housing in Mataró more affordable by taking control of a critical mass of privately owned affordable flats – at least 200 units – and renting them out at below-market prices to at least 450 people in need of an affordable home. Yes We Rent! will reduce housing discrimination and residential segregation. The project will test a replicable organisational and economic model for achieving these objectives. This model consists of the City Council setting up the scheme and providing start-up finance for a mixed multi-stakeholder cooperative that should later become a sustainable autonomous agent in the housing market.
May 2019: Project up and running - the project’s three pillars: steering group, advisory board and technical commission have been set up and a kick-off meeting with partners and stakeholders has taken place.
July 2019: First owners of empty properties have been contacted.
October 2019: First affordable flats enter the scheme.
October 2019: First cycle of professional training for unemployed people starts linked to the rehabilitation of housing for the scheme.
May 2020: The cooperative has started training tenants and incentivizing their engagement via a virtual currency and has taken a decision on which additional services to offer to them.
November 2020: The process of scaling the scheme beyond the boundaries of Mataró has been launched through a study and a workshop with other municipalities.
October 2021: The impact of the affordable housing scheme and the sustainability of its economic and organizational model have been assessed.
October 2021: The affordable housing scheme has been handed over to the cooperative.