Neighbours and awardees were able to discover at first hand, in a dual open day held on Friday and Saturday March 5th and 6th, the new housing development with services for senior citizens located at Carrer Alí Bei 100-102, constructed by the Barcelona Municipal Housing and Rehabilitation Institute (IMHAB). The awardees were able to see the apartments where they are going to live from now on, and the neighbours of the district and the city in general had the opportunity to visit one of the protected housing developments being carried out by the Barcelona City Council. The building was also visited by Laura Pérez, the Deputy Mayor for Social Rights, Global Justice, Feminism and LGTBI Affairs; Joan Ramon Riera, the Councillor for Childhood, Young People and Senior Citizens; Lucía Martín, the Councillor for Housing and Rehabilitation; and Juan Martínez León, the Associative Vice-President of the Senior Citizens’ Advisory Council.
The Alí Bei development includes 49 homes for persons aged 65 or over who do not own a property and are autonomous in their everyday lives. This is a particularly vulnerable social group, and for this reason the Barcelona City Council has dedicated efforts to constructing protected housing designed especially for them. At present there are 1,300 such apartments and 500 more will be constructed in the coming years, as was recalled by the Councillor for Housing and Rehabilitation, Lucia Martín. She also spoke of the importance of these policies from a feminist standpoint. “It is worth pointing out that many women benefit from this. Many of the people who live in these apartments are elderly women, who live longer, in situations of vulnerability. This is a point of pride and a particularly important feminist policy, precisely because it provides a service to an especially vulnerable social group,” Martín declared.
The design of the homes has taken into account the special needs of this collective. All the homes are adapted, safe, comfortable and integrated into the community, and they have the necessary support services. They have the services of tele-assistance, cleaning services and personal support. This is one of the aspects highlighted by one of the awardees, Concepción Colmenares, who says she is very happy because until now she has lived in a fourth-floor flat with no lift and that was a problem, for example, when she had to climb the stairs with her shopping. In her new apartment she will not have this inconvenience.
Another aspect that has been taken into account is the construction of community spaces, which are very important for combating the isolation felt by old people living alone. Alícia B. Rodríguez, another awardee, values these common spaces very highly. “This makes us more psychologically active in our longing to live in community, and it’s very good for our mental health,” she says. The Alí Bei development has a multi-purpose hall, an activity room, a laundry, a covered terrace with raised planter boxes, a bathroom, the administration offices and the facilities enclosure.
The 49 homes have a useful floor area of between 34 and 42 m2 with one bedroom, and are designed for a maximum of two persons. As in all the IMHAB’s developments, close attention has been paid to sustainability and energy efficiency. The homes have obtained the energy qualification “A,” the most efficient of all. The hot water and space heating operate with aerothermia, an innovative technology that provides a source of clean renewable energy that requires little maintenance.
Commitment to public housing
Apart from these homes with services for senior citizens, the Barcelona City Council is committed to enlarging the city’s public housing stock, which in the year 2015 consisted of 6,000 apartments and is now about to reach 10,000. In fact, the Barcelona Municipal Housing and Rehabilitation Institute (IMHAB) is the institution that has conducted most public housing tenders in Catalonia. The IMHAB ha tendered 13 developments, representing a total expenditure of 133 million euros. The City Council now has 73 active developments, 18 of which are completed, 24 are in construction, 25 are in the planning stage and 6 are in the land reservation process.