Authored by #UnequalCities Network member Melissa Garcia-Lamarca
Abstract: This paper explores the development of residential Spanish Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs, known as SOCIMIs) in the country’s growing rental market, unpacking their connection with the resolution of the 2008 financial crisis. Focus is placed on the emerging socio-spatial dynamics of one of the country’s first large-scale residential SOCIMIs in Barcelona from the global private equity firm Blackstone. I argue that SOCIMIs manifest a housing regime enabled by the Spanish state and EU backed post-crisis management of toxic real estate assets, a model built from the dispossession underlying hundreds of thousands of foreclosures and evictions and the public financial system bail out. Mapping 110 Blackstone SOCIMI properties in Barcelona in relation to neighbourhood rental prices and findings from a social media group created by Blackstone SOCIMI tenants suggests that these new residential REITs reinforce socio-spatial urban inequality and dispossession. The discussion and conclusions unpack the implications of these findings vis-à-vis urban housing access, affordability and inequalities.