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1998 Spanish Best Practices selected by the International Jury >

An Integral Program on Housing Rehabilitation for Social Purposes, Vilafranca del Penedès (Spain)

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Reference Date: 26-07-1998

Experience selected in the 1998 Dubai Award for Best Practice, and catalogued as BEST. ( Best Practices Database.)
País/Country: Spain

United Nations Region: Europe
Ecological region: Coastal
Activity: City / Town
Partnerships: Regional Government. Central Government. Non-governmental organisation (NGO). Private Sector

Themes = Housing: affordable housing; eco-logical design; homelessness. Social Services: health and welfare. Urban and Regional Planning; community-based planning; cultural heritage conservation; urban renewal.

Main contact:
Margarida Camprubí i Vendrell
Town Hall of Vilafranca del Penedès. (Local Government)
Plaça Jaume I, 8-10
Vilafranca del Penedès
08720 Barcelona
Tel: +34-93 892 03 58
Fax: +34-93 817 17 40

Joan Esteve
Nou-Set. (Private Sector: Job-placement enterprise for handicapped persons)
Carretera de Sant Martì, s/n
Vilafranca del Penedès
08720 Barcelona
Collaborating on job placement for of handicapped persons.

Jordina Gallemí Casanelles
Cáritas- Vilafranca. (Non-governmental organisation: Catholic civil organisation)
Casal, 2
Vilafranca del Penedès
08720 Barcelona
Tel: +34-93 890 13 24.
Aid to persons in need.

Magí Casulleres
FECA (Privarte sector: supplier of building material enterprise)
Ctra. Sant Martí, S/N
Vilafranca del Penedès
08720 Barcelona
Tel: +34-93 817 03 53
Type of support: technical

Key Dates

Inicio: 01/01/92
Final: 31/12/2000


We strategically designed an integral program on housing rehabilitation, with a main objective being the accessibility of flats to a disadvantaged sector.

This program is City Hall run, involving the Departments of Social Services, Economic Development, and Urban Planning, and based on a contractual agreement made with the owners of abandoned flats and buildings in the downtown area. In exchange for the City Hall's paying for remodelation, the owners rent out their flats to those people selected by the Department of Social
, over a given time and rate of rent.

In fulfilling the agreement, the City Hall is expected to bring the flats up to the standard required by present housing regulations, with adequate structure and function. After the predetermined time period, the flats are returned to the owners in perfect conditon.

In exchange for this, the owners agree to rent out the flats at approximately half the normal rate, withholding any objections towards the families selected by the department of Social Services.

The program has succeeded with its desired objectives, prescribed by the departments involved. The Department of Social Services disposes of affordable housing for homeless, poor, and immigrant families.

The Department of Urban Planning has witnessed a dynamic change in the downtown; ceasing increasing deterioration and by renewing the residential population, insuring the satisfactory economic and social balance of commercial, office, and residential space in the sector, as well as contributing to an already existing urbanistic plan (PERI).

Finally, the Department of Economic Development is
able to offer substantial job experience and placement to students of the city run vocational training workship, and give work opportunities, often subsidized by other public administrations, to the physically and mentally handicapped, persons with previous drug and criminal records, and the long-term unemployed.
The program focused mainly on privately owned flats and buildings, where the beneficiaries were both landlords and tenants. In a few of thecases, the buildings in question were owned by the City Hall or by charitable organizations or foundations, such as Caritas, a secular Catholic organization.

The types of the interventions can be divided into two groups:

  1. Empty buildings/flats that needed rehabilition in order to be reinhabited.
  2. Flats/buildings that were inhabited by families with limited resources, but needed rehabilitation in order to meet current housing regulations.
A contractual agreement was signed between the owner and the City Hall and covered the following conditions:


1. Situation before the initiative began
Affordable housing, a marginalized sector of the population, and a high rate of unemployment were problems concerning the community which could be considered principal factors leading to the development of our iniciative.

Preparing information and clarifying priorities

Among the many things we considered:

2. Formulation of objectives, strategies and mobilization of resources
The following three aspects were considered as precedents which favored and recommended the creation of our program, together with the existence of a close working relationship between the Social Services and the Economical Development departments of the City Hall.

This campaign on housing would hopefuly raise civic and administrative awareness.
The inicial objectives of our program gave way to additional ones, each relating back to the areas originally put forward:

3. Process
It was decided that the Department of Urban Planning, in coordination with the other departments involved, should be given an important role in the program, considering the close relationship that exists between city planning and the preservation and reconstruction of the city's architectural heritage.

For this reason a special committee was appointed that would supervise the program, called the Housing Commission, presided over by the Mayor of the City Hall and made up of the Councillors from the Departments of Social Services, Economic Development, and Urban Planning. The main objective of this Commission was to establish the guidelines of a municipal policy on housing.
To execute those guidelines an Interdepartmental Executive Commission was formed, made up of the Heads of the departments involved. Their primary functions consisted in evaluating the plan of action, estimating costs, and coordinating the different departments.

The responsability of executing the program was given to a team formed by technicians working in each of the departments involved:

This technical team was formed by the Director from the Urban Planning Departament, an Economic Development representative, a Social Services worker, an administrator, and temporary help. Their work included the elaboration and execution of the technicalprojects based on the diagnosis of each particular case, the communication and collaboration within the technical municipal areas in order to establish a a concrete policiy dealing with the renovation of social housing, and the management of aid and subventions obtained from public and private entities.
To rehabilitate the houses a work team was formed divided into groups, each own having its own specialty:

4. Achieved Results
The collaboration we received from the private sectors was greatly valued in that it made possible a new type of social housing, previously non-existent in the community, as well as providing affordable housing to a disadvantaged sector of the population and regulating rent rates in the community on the whole.

Since the iniciation of the program, we have intervened in a total of forty-seven privately owned flats. Of these, seventeen have been completed by means of an agreement with the owner.
The remaining thirty were small interventions in flats already occupied but in need of maintenence work in order to comply with housing regulations.
A total of twenty-five families have benefitted from our program, taking into account that the maximum length of lease for housing provided by the City Hall is five years. Ofthese, twenty-five per cent are immigrants. The program has involved intermittently a total of one hundred and sixty-five workers from different fields. Of these, forty per cent are currently employed outside the program. In addition to this, a total of seventy-two students from the city run vocational school have received on the job training. Also, it'sworth stressing the fact that the rehabilitation and reoccupation of the buildings and flats in mention has generated a dyanmic expansion and recuperation of the downtown, with participation and collaboration from different entities in the community.


The program is highlighted by the restoration of the existing principal elements of the buildings/flats involved through the use of recycled material. This material, directly obtained from the project sites or from buildings in the area undergoing remodeling or demolition, would be repaired and reused in the project.


In 1994 we held a two day conference about our experience in Vilafranca with ten other Local Administrations, mostly from the province of Barcelona. In order to share our lessons with them.
This conference led to more meetings with the small and medium sized City Halls in the area, sponsored by Barcelona's Regional Council (Diputació).

Since then, more than twenty local administrations and private organizations have visited us to observe our program.
The Province's Department of Economical Develpment has selected our program to become a pilot project, designed to create a job placement enterprise for housing rehabilitation as a potencial field of employment for handicapped people.

Lessons learned

Of the many lessons learned, we'd like to mention:

5. The experience in numbers
Financial Profile

For the financial year of 1998:


Anna Gual, Joaquim Gascó, Pruvi Almirall and Manuel Almasa (1995) "Creació y consolidació del Programa de Rehabilitació d'Habitatges amb finalitat social" (Revista del CIFA (Centre d'investigació, formació i assesorament. N. 17. May 1995. Page 5)

Gloria Clavero Aranda 1995 "Experències locals: Hábitat i serveis socials" (Quaderns de Serveis Socials. Diputació de Barcelona. Page: 6)

VVAA Multiple articles (Semanari El Tres de Vuit, Publications Penedès)

Oficina Municipal de l'Habitatge (Housing Office) (1992) Constant local information about the program (Revista setmanal "La Fura". Penedès edicions Nexos. Since 1992)

Este documento se ha editado a partir de una versión inglesa.
Revisado por Ricardo García.

1998 Spanish Best Practices selected by the International Jury >
Ciudades para un Futuro más Sostenible
Búsqueda | Buenas Prácticas | Documentos | Boletín CF+S | Novedades | Convocatorias | Sobre la Biblioteca | Buzón/Mailbox
Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura de Madrid Universidad Politécnica de Madrid
Grupo de Investigación en Arquitectura, Urbanismo y Sostenibilidad
Departamento de Estructuras y Física de la EdificaciónDepartamento de Urbanística y Ordenación del Territorio