Bologna launches the right to live

An exceptional event happened in Bologna: 300 people – many young people – coming from all over Italy, from the Third Sector network, from trade union organisations, movements, the world of research and ethical finance, dialogued and shared good practices and proposals. to develop together an action plan, an agenda of points and priorities to combat the housing crisis. Hundreds of thousands of people throughout Italy – students, workers, families – today for many reasons do not have access to housing or essential services: putting this now endemic problem at the center of the country’s political agenda means fighting for social justice , to guarantee everyone the fundamental right to housing and living in the city. The future of the Social Forum will be measured in its ability to promote disputes, propose bottom-up solutions and contribute to the construction of public policies that today are non-existent or insufficient.” This is how Rossella Vigneri, president of Arci Bologna, describes the “three days” of the Social Living Forum which ended yesterday in Bologna.

Born from the initiative of associations, unions and activists, the forum also involved the institutions and signed a manifesto which will be submitted to them. There were three macro areas on which the working groups reflected. The first group asked itself how to counteract the imbalance between the right to live and profit: it asked itself how to recover or reconvert unused public real estate assets at a national level. The second advanced proposals for social and collaborative living, putting the territories back at the center in the reflection on housing policies. The third tried to imagine new experiences of social living, a living that falls within the perimeter of common goods, that puts relationships at the centre, with the aim of thinking of a new community welfare centered on this, that spreads networks of mutualism and cooperation.

«To talk about the right to live, a transversal alliance like the one carried out by the Forum is fundamental», said the deputy mayor of Bologna with responsibility for housing, Emily Marion Clancy, on the sidelines of the work in which she participated. «To address this great issue of our time, we need not only academic expertise and research, but also the social stance of those who lead the fight for the right to live, who ask politics and above all the Government, which has been absent so far, to give back to center the theme, dedicating resources and investments to social housing”. At the beginning of April, the Municipality of Bologna and the metropolitan city signed a protocol on the agreed rent which managed to really bring everyone to an agreement, including tenants’ and owners’ unions, institutions and trade associations. An agreement that takes into account the considerable increase in rents in Bologna, which deal not only with inflation, but also with the tourism boom and the consequent spread of short-term rentals.

Francesco Rienzi of Sunia, the tenants’ union, also says he is satisfied with the work of the Social Forum. «The Municipality of Bologna is doing everything it can – he said – but we need national policies that are effective in countering the spread of short-term rentals in cities like this, where there is no longer any place for medium and low-income families, workers and off-campus students. With the Municipality and other unions we have signed a protocol for “zero vacancy” in public residential buildings, 6 million euros from the Pon Metro have been invested to make the 700 homes accessible which are not accessible today”, he says. The union’s opinion on the Municipality is therefore positive, «but the State is the great absentee: from two finance companies it does not provide the rent contribution which was added to the citizen’s income and that for innocent arrears. We need a serious housing plan, not just disguised amnesties”, concludes Rienzi.


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