This Country Is Filling Vacant Homes With People Who Need Them

Thursday, December 17, 2015 |
Former activist Aba Colau is using her newly found influence as the mayor of Barcelona, Spain to further her anti-eviction campaign by making banks pay fees when they evict families from their homes and then the home is left vacant.

The city of Barcelona isn’t the only city using this tactic, recently around 100 different municipalities around Spain have been fining banks who leave homes that they own vacant. It is estimated that 3.4 million homes that are owned by banks are sitting vacant at this time.

Initially banks were being fined around 60,000 euros which is around 68k in US dollars for ever 12 homes they leave vacant. If the bank has 6 times that or more in vacant homes on their books the fines go even higher. Fees also go up if the home is left vacant for a longer period of time.

If we refer to this concept as the Barcelona standard, how much could our major US cities make in bank fees that could be used to help the homeless? Probably a lot more than we think. This would encourage banks to work with people who are struggling and make sure that people are only evicted once someone else is ready to occupy the home.

Take a look at this chart to see the amount of homeless people compared to vacant houses in some major US cities.

As you can see above New York has around 6,000 vacant properties (2,489 lots and 3,551 buildings). If we were to fill up the empty buildings with homeless people we could provide shelter for 71,707 people according to the Village Voice estimations. That would more than cover the estimated 58k homeless people in NYC.

If instead we charged the banks for leaving the buildings vacant than NYC would have an extra $405 million to help provide for the homeless.

In LA we could end homelessness by housing the 44,359 homeless by charging the banks who own the 14,400 empty lots $80.6 million per month and using that money to take care of them.

As you can see it becomes much more worth the bank’s time and money to work with people on making payments instead of creating more homeless because then they will have to help house them in the future.

Do you agree with the Barcelona standard? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below:

Sources: US Uncut, EWAO

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