The Spanish home ownership sector has been hit hard by the economic crisis. Repossessions stand at around half a million in the period from 2008 to 2014. This article investigates how the authorities, both at the level of the Spanish state and of the autonomous communities (regions), have responded to this problem. We investigated whether they assist troubled home owners and aim to design a less risky housing system, with more (social) rental housing. Our research in Catalonia, the Basque Country and Andalusia shows that Autonomous Communities are playing an increasingly important role in this matter. This finding fits well with theories on the formation of regional varieties of welfare, which indicate that flaws of the central governments in providing social welfare, are increasingly addressed by regions. The Basque Country seems to be on the way of designing the most comprehensive system of housing policies of the three regions, including a strong Right to Housing. All three regions regard the mobilisation of the large vacant dwelling stock as an important means to provide more affordable rental housing. However, the owners are often unwilling and the three regions have proposed drastic measures, such as fines and even temporary expropriations. The central government resists such measures, because they might interfere with the proper working of the country’s financial system. It shows that certain policy competences can never be totally isolated from other policy fields and multi-level distribution of competences makes it all the more complex.
Journal of Housing and the Built Environment – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 1, 2016
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