“We believe cities are meant to be inclusive environments. As Mayors, we must worry about local economy, and growth is obviously and issue. But, does growth worth it if it is not balanced and inclusive? Cities administrations must face the threat of unbalanced urban growth. Its consequences are dangerous and both economically and socially expensive.”
– Mayor Manuela Carmena
After graduating law school in 1965 from the Complutense University of Madrid, Mayor Carmena became a defender of the workers and detainees during the dictatorship of Francisco Franco and co-founder of a labour law office where the 1977 Massacre of Atocha took place. In 1981, as a judge she began an almost solitary fight to prevent corruption in existing courts. In 1986 she received the National Human Rights Award. She was then a member of the General Council of the Judiciary, proposed by United Left, and a founder of the progressive association Judges for Democracy. Judge of Penitentiary Vigilance and head of the Penitentiary Vigilance Court No. 1 of Madrid, she was elected senior judge of Madrid in 1993. Retired from the judiciary since 2010, Carmena became a member of the Patronato de la Fundación Alternativas, a think tank correlated to the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE), with members such as the former Socialist prime ministers Felipe González and José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. Mayor Carmena was also Chair-Rapporteur of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. In September 2011, Carmena Castrillo was named advisor to the Patxi López cabinet of the Basque Government in the area of assistance to victims of police abuse. Mayor Carmena founded the supportive cooperative “Yayos emprendedores” (literally “entrepreneur grannies”), which sponsors a small retail business that sells children’s games and clothing and shoes made by prisoners at the Alcalá de Guadaira jail in Seville. She ran as the candidate of the Ahora Madrid coalition in the 2015 Madrid mayoral election, and on 13 June 2015 was declared Mayor of Madrid.
Affordable housing has been at the forefront of Mayor Carmena’s fight to return Madrid into the hands of everyday citizens.
• In June of 2015, Mayor Carmena made the news as she prevented over 200 families in 70 homes from being evicted.
• In April of 2016, Mayor Carmena announced that the Town Hall has set itself the objective of ending its term with 4,000 social homes, as part of its efforts to alleviate “the humanitarian disaster resulting from mortgage foreclosures”.
• Mayor Carmena suggested that her new housing plan, to be revealed this fall, may potentially allow banks to rent out some of their foreclosed homes, as well as consider the option of building affordable housing on land that the Town Hall has available.
• The Town Hall is also exploring ways of providing more security to owners who grant their properties for social use.
• The option of offering a “zero rent” arrangement is also being considered for cases of “absolute emergency,” and Carmena announced the new configuration of the Mortgage Mediation Office, which will provide support and advice to affected citizens starting on 1 September.
More information: Social Housing Initiative