Economy The PSC pressures the Generalitat to recover the Pasqual...

The PSC pressures the Generalitat to recover the Pasqual Maragall and José Montilla Neighborhood Law


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Socialist mayors demand from the Government a project similar to the one that allowed the rehabilitation of some of the most disadvantaged urban areas of Catalonia between 2004 and 2010

The Neighborhood Law, driven by the Tripartite government of the Generalitat, was approved by the Parliament in spring 2004 with the intention of fully rehabilitating dozens of neighborhoods in Catalonia threatened by degradation. The improvement of the living conditions of the residents of these areas was the main objective of a law that established the creation of an economic fund at the disposal of the municipalities. The project, started by Pasqual Maragall and continued by Josà © Montilla, deepened during two legislatures in a public management close to citizens: social aid, social welfare, health and educational infrastructures … A decade later, in the midst of the health and economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, mayors of the PSC demand a new Neighborhood Law to revitalize the areas most affected.

The law was a direct action to help the most disadvantaged suburbs, a tool for the transformation of areas with urban and social needs. In the neighborhood Sant Cosme, in El Prat de Llobregat (Barcelona), improvements in equipment and services have proliferated since then. The remodeling counted on the participation of neighborhood entities and associations, leading actors in the metamorphosis of a neighborhood that is persecuted by a stigma associated with marginalization and drug trafficking. Some 8,500 people live in Sant Cosme around the main axis of the neighborhood, Llobregat street, which welcomed subway line 9 a few years ago, a milestone for residents. At the end of the artery, what ten years ago was a vacant lot gave way to the main headquarters of AigÃŒes del Prat, the municipal company that manages the water. Next to CAP and the Mossos d’Esquadra police station, the courts and a civic center are part of the infrastructures of a neighborhood whose transformation was inspired by the performance of the Barcelona’s town hall in Old City.

In peripheral areas such as Sant Cosme, unemployment and need have returned strongly in 2020. The geographer and former secretary for Territorial Planning of the Generalitat Oriol Nel · lo explains that the concentration of people with greater social needs in certain neighborhoods is a direct result of the urban segregation process:  «As a result of the way in which, according to their ability to act in the land and housing market, the various social groups they tend to be separated from each other in urban space. Families with higher incomes have more freedom to choose where they want to live, while disadvantaged families are forced to live in neighborhoods with lower prices, as Nel · lo argues:  «With lower income and greater social needs, greater tendency to live together in urban areas with large urban deficits ».

250 million

In Hospitalet de Llobregat (Barcelona), the aid was awarded to the neighborhoods of Collblanc, La Torrassa, La Florida and Pubilla Cases. In the neighboring region of Baix Llobregat, the municipalities of Sant Boi, Viladecans, El Prat and Castelldefels they benefited from the law. After ten years, mayors of these towns urgently demand that the Generalitat work on rehabilitation and housing policies as it did during the tripartite stage. The Socialist leaders put the budget line necessary to put behind the current situation of lack of investment at 250 million euros. The lives of people and neighborhoods  «must be in the center», they claim.

The mayoress of Sant Boi, Lluïsa Moret, explains that the priority destination of the 250 million would be the renovation of homes and investment in energy efficiency and accessibility.  «Many of the residents of these areas are older and have accessibility problems», says the PSC leader, who intends to reform 50,000 flats a year  «to return to having first class neighborhoods». In the current situation of health and social crisis, the rescue of the Neighborhood Law  «is a basic necessity», Moret claims.

The mayor of Sant Joan DespÃ, Antoni Poveda, argues that, as a result of Montilla’s departure from the presidency of the Generalitat, the dynamics of recovery, rehabilitation and economic activity in Catalonia have worsened.  «Why has the Government not allocated all the resources it has, such as European funds, to rehabilitating neighborhoods and promoting public housing? », questions the socialist leader, in favor of the neighborhood blocks being reformed independently whether or not the Neighborhood Law remains in force.

The rehabilitation of buildings is still a competence of the Generalist.  «There is a risk of deteriorating the dignity of our neighbor hoods», warns Poveda, who recalls that the town councils of Baix Llobregat governed by the PSC have been asking the Government for years to carry out the necessary actions to renovate blocks of flats that lack lifts or to act on energy losses caused by the lack of insulation in older homes.

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