The increase in life expectancy in Western countries is bringing about significant changes in the social structure of major European cities.
In recent years the city of Barcelona has similarly experienced a change in the age structure of its residents: the trend being a general aging of the population due to a decrease in the younger generations (under 16 years of age) combined with the constant growth of the older generations (over 65 years of age). It is important to note that more than half of the latter are women and, when looking at octogenarians, the ratio is two out of three. Therefore, over the past few years the Catalan capital has seen a rise in single-member households, consisting mainly of elderly widowed women.
To address the housing emergency, the municipality of Barcelona has developed, through the Patronat Municipal de l’Habitatge de Barcelona (PMHB), an interesting project of diversifying the housing market by offering homes designed specifically for the needs of the elderly called viviendas dotacionales.
These social housing units, which are regulated by the law 18/2007 concerning housing rights, are similar to those that are provided support and assistance by the local social services in Barcelona.
The vivienda dotacional model offers the elderly a social accommodation which is comfortable, adapted to their needs and is integrated in the local community. Moreover, such households have both direct assistance thanks to the personnel of the center, and indirect assistance through a helpline service, in order to maintain a high degree of personal autonomy for as long as possible.
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