Residential tower blocks nightmare for disabled access

New study says Spain is far from providing universal access for disabled to residential property. Photo: ABC
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Nearly 70 percent of all Spaniards live in residential apartment buildings, making it the country with the greatest number of apartment-dwellers anywhere in Europe. But, a new study shows that access to residential living space in Spain is a nightmare for people with reduced mobility or disability, with less than 1 percent of the country’s residential housing meeting the “universal accessiblity” required under Spanish law.

The study, titled La accesibilidad en las viviendas de España (Accessibility in Homes in Spain), was released last week by Spain’s Fundación Mutua de Propietarios (Mutual Foundation of Property Owners) in collaboration with the UNESCO Chair of Housing Studies at the Rovira i Virgili university in Tarragona.


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It shows that only 5,800 residential buildings — just 0.6 percent of a total of 9.8 million apartment buildings nationwide — meet the criteria for universal disability. This, despite a deadline having passed in December 2017 for Spain to comply with universal access regulations enacted to require full social-inclusion compliance, in line with the General Law on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

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Of the 9.8 million residential buildings in Spain, the study estimates that 63 percent are not accessible from the street to the entrance. Only 28 percent of residential buildings in Spain are fitted with a wheelchair ramp for disabled access and 22 percent have no elevator, making it all but impossible for the disabled and elderly to live anywhere but on the ground floor.

The study’s release comes just days after the Spanish government announced its veto of legislation proposed in Congress by the Socialist party (PSOE) that would have created a 75 million euro national fund to underwrite universal access to public buildings for the elderly and disabled.

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