Vanesa is an immigrant woman, mother of two children under the age of 14. He has gone to the Sindicat de Barri del Poble Sec in Barcelona to explain his case. He has ten years in a rental apartment for which he pays 480 euros per month. His life suffered a shock last October when the owner company told him that he had sold the building to a company with English name, which the next month did not renew the rent. The life of this family has become impossible. There are no homes at affordable prices. History is repeated in thousands of cases by the influx of international capital in search of profitability.
Barcelona, Madrid, Paris, London, New York and other cities are being destabilized by the action of investment funds. The sociologist Saskia Sassen analyzed this phenomenon in a recent meeting of the mayor of Barcelona Ada Colau with the neighbors. For the professor at Columbia University "Barcelona has become an experiment. Large investors buy buildings that remain empty. Then we said 'look how bad these investors have gone'. But we were wrong. They did not do badly. Now we see that an empty building rents them more than one occupied thanks to an algorithm, which values the material aspects of real estate. " Sassen summarized: "Today a wall can become a value. The financiers no longer want more derivatives, whose market exceeds 1,500 billion dollars, about 20 times the global GDP. They want material assets that are easier to value. "
This phenomenon of "financialization of housing" was analyzed by the United Nations special rapporteur for housing Leilani Farha in 2017. Farha pointed out that global investment in residences has led to "housing being considered a commodity, a way of accumulation of wealth ". And he pointed out that these investments in real estate "increasingly disconnect housing from its social function of providing a place to live in conditions of security and dignity and, therefore, undermines the effectiveness of the right to housing as a human right. "
Some countries have reacted to this devastating tsunami. Farha cited Austria, China, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, which "have established restrictions on foreign purchases of real estate." He said that the mayor of London has proposed that builders should ensure that 35% of new homes are really affordable.
In this line the mayor of Barcelona has approved a rule that requires new buildings that allocate 30% of the property to social housing. Given the seriousness of the facts, the United Nations is working on a treaty in the framework of human rights and companies that also includes real estate investments.
In his recent book The war of the places, the former United Nations rapporteur, Raquel Rolnik, warns: "The city colonized by finance explodes in insurgencies, conflicts and violence."