Increasing Numbers of Public Housing Units Sit Empty in Venice

“Resources Must Be Found to Assign Them”. A group of opposition city councilors calls on Ca’ Farsetti to invest in public housing

By Vera Mantengoli

3 December 2022

Opposition city councilors are calling for a large part of the 2023 Budget funding to be dedicated to the recovery of public housing. Currently in the Municipal City there are 2208 vacant homes: 1016 (620 belonging to ATER and 396 to the City) in insular Venice, and 1192 (654 belonging to ATER and 538 to the city) on the mainland. The picture looks even worse when we look at the numbers for the most recent round of applications for ERP housing: only 100 homes available to be assigned for 2371 requests. A pittance, without counting the waiting list of those who participated in the last ERP round of applications and may well once again find themselves without a home.

“We had the chance to request PNRR funding for housing, but the administration only wanted the money for the Bosco dello Sport outside Mestre, demonstrating that they are absolutely uninterested in the problem of housing”, explained the councilors. In about twenty days the city councilors will meet to discuss one of the most important parts of the end of the year, the Budget.

Among the requests the opposition will present is the one regarding the restoration of the homes that are now vacant so that they can be given to those who need them, but there are others. Practical proposals were presented yesterday in the City by the minority (with the exception of Cecilia Tonon of Venezia è Tua) and by regional councilors Erika Baldin of M5S and Elisa Ostanel of Veneto che Vogliamo. Data and documentation provided by OCIO (Civic Observatory on Housing) allowed them to present a snapshot of a situation that the opposition considers scandalous.

“This situation cries out for restitution”, said Gianfranco Bettin of the Verdi Progressisti, who was the organizer of the meeting. “The percentage of public housing currently vacant has risen from 17% in 2017 to 20% in 2022 – for ATER this means we are talking about one house in four, empty.”

Marco Gasparinetti of Terra e Acqua asked what happened to the 400 million Euros for housing that Mayor Brugnaro talked about in 2020, and underlined how there were already ready-to-go projects for ERP housing at Sant’Elena, designed by the former Director of Urban Planning, Franco Bortoluzzi. “These are extremes that speak of financial damage to the state, given that the City continues to pay the condominium expenses”, said the attorney, recalling that Gruppo 25 Aprile had already presented a petition to the Corte dei Conti. “What does the City want to do with the 10 million offered by the Marzo Hotel company to purchase the former offices of the Chamber of Commerce? That money and the money from the derivatives should be earmarked for housing”.

Giovanni Andrea Martini of Tutta la Città Insieme instead raised the problem of student housing: “the University offers 1300 residences for over 10,000 requests, but the administration continues to talk about students as future residents without addressing the fact that housing is also a problem for them”.

Ostanel presented a solution that could be implemented immediately: “Every year the Region takes in 6 million from ATER in virtue of Art. 37 of the housing law, which requires ATER to pay 0.4% of the rental value of each residence. All it would require would be to remove that article and leave the money for ATER to use for restoring housing units”, explained the councilor. “Enough excuses that there is no money. We are the only Region that hasn’t adjusted the additional IRPEF: raising the rate to around 5% would result in over 100 million Euro to invest in the Budget, money with which the underfinancing of ATER would only be a memory”.

The city council session to deal with the Budget will take place from Dec. 19 to 21, and on those dates the opposition will present a list of proposals, united around the request to allocate more money to housing. Among the projects that ATER is considering for financing restoration projects in the historic center is the sale of some apartments, in a mixture of areas. The sale would be restricted to residents who already live in the apartments and therefore intend to claim them.

Source: La Nuova di Venezia e Mestre

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