Public Housing in Spain: The Basics

What is Social Housing in Spain, Really??  

One thing you must remember when talking about public or social housing is that there is not really a great definition from country to country.  Spain is not really any different here.   What the Spanish consider social housing is not really rental in nature.  Most of it is actually owner occupied.   The development of the housing reminds me a bit of the model in the Netherlands.  The cost of land and the cost of borrowing money are reduced to those building affordable housing.   In exchange for the lower borrowing costs and land costs, the units must be offered to those making below a certain threshold of money.   In this regard, social housing in Spain is means tested like many other social housing programs.   Again a key difference is that people are buying most of the affordable housing and not renting it.   A recent Reuters article brings out that only 2% of the entire housing stock in Spain is social in nature.  Click here to read.  Our friends from Housing Europe also offer up a nice summary.  Click here for that information. 

What Changes Are Taking Place?

Not a bad question.

In recent years, Spain is trying to rectify the shortage of rental housing.  The country is putting more of an emphasis on building social housing and renovating existing.  that is not made easy because of the fact that local communities have more control over housing policy than the federal government.  It is a little like Germany but perhaps even more localized in some senses.   If there is a financial crisis of some sort locally, this can make building/providing social housing even more difficult.   So you end up with a federal goal totally at the mercy of the state/local governments to enact.  In Germany, they still give federal money to guarantee the provision of social housing is a priority.  The funds were supposed to be turned off at the federal level in Germany but the refugee crisis delayed that for the time being.  Hmmmm…. I was supposed to be talking about Spanish social housing.  Sorry.  Back to it-  My point is that the federal government would probably need to pour some funds into the states/localities if they want to guarantee social housing development.


Who is Funding?

A lot of the funding is coming from the local governments and what ever work a social housing company or municipality might be undertaking. By that I am referring to rental income or maybe developer fees if that is even a profit making venture in Spain.   If a for- profit provider is doing work in this sector, it is often the private market rental stock that is helping the social side cash-flow.  The link above for Housing Europe can get you to a little more information on this subject.  I also recommend this 14 page report on Spanish Social Housing

Who Lives in Spanish Social Housing?

In a lot of English speaking countries, the right to access social housing as a provision is determined by household size and income.  Many are eligible for social housing in Spain and in some estimates as much as 80%.  Some of the research shows that priorities are given to the following:

  • First time home owners
  • Victims of domestic violence
  • Victims of terrorism.
  • Those effected by natural diasters
  • Divorced people who have made payment.

More Resources:

If this small article peaked your interest in the Spanish social housing sector, you can find out more here


This was nothing more than a quick summary with some resources.  What did I miss?  Are there new developments in social housing within the Spanish sector?


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