Before the beginning of an industrialist phase in the construction of social housing for railway employees during the second half of the 20th century, both by railway companies (especially RENFE) and through cooperatives of railway workers, the construction of housing for railway employees by private companies was not of a general nature and only a few hundred dwellings were built for both employees in strategic positions and those who worked in unpopulated areas or small urban centres with scarce urban development. The lack of housing in the sector was evident and in many cases the railway workers had to wait in precarious constructions or in adapted wagons for housing to become available or for the construction of a new development (Cuéllar Villar, Jiménez Vega and Polo Muriel 2005).
In the big cities, where the problem was apparently less of a problem because there was a greater supply of tenement housing, the lack of housing was also important because prices were very high and the location of the housing was very far from the workplaces, which also led to the existence of substandard housing or accommodation lacking the slightest comfort. As a result, with the impulse given by consumer cooperatives and workers’ associations in general, railway workers’ cooperatives also began to develop, with the aim of building housing for their families. Sigue leyendo
At the beginning of this note, it is appropriate to indicate the reasons for the chronology used, which will be common in most of the texts published in this blog related to Spanish railway housing in the second half of the 20th century. The extreme dates are marked by two laws, that of 1939, which promoted the construction of protected housing, and that of 1989, on measures to finance protected housing, which would entail a significant change in the trajectory of social housing in Spain, since that a good part of the regulatory and promotional powers would pass to the Autonomous Communities, as established by the Spanish Constitution of 1978.
Thus, in the period 1949-1989 we have been able to count the construction of some 20,000 homes for railway workers, which were largely built by the workers themselves, as cooperatives and with the aim of gaining access to a home of their own.
RENFE’s housing stock for its employees increased considerably during this period, as can be seen from the fact that, in addition to the 7,000 homes for rent, some 2,500 homes were also built on loan for strategic positions for personnel from the Circulation and Works services. In addition, the company also owned housing that had been built by the former railway companies (before 1936) and were still in use. Finally, other companies in the railway sector, of a regional or local nature, also built homes for their employees, although in a much lower number (figure 1). Sigue leyendo
The modern cooperative impulse has its roots in the implementation of the industrial revolution, when in different economic and social spheres, popular and middle classes sought collaborative networks to carry out agricultural, industrial, or service projects. In Spain, the first national congress was held in Barcelona in 1899, in which the agricultural unions and rural banks had special relevance, and in which different lectures were given on the thought of Proudhon, Ruskin, Marx, Owen and Sorel and the first cooperative experiences, which were taught by some intellectuals in Barcelona at the time (Pérez Baró, 1963).
Production cooperatives, consumer cooperatives and, to a lesser extent, housing cooperatives (referred to in those years as cheap houses) were the main study references. However, the impulse to cooperativism related to housing construction would be delayed until the second half of the 20th century, going hand in hand with real estate developmentalism that would greatly complicate the operation of these cooperatives. Sigue leyendo