The guest of Episode 18 of the podcast The Road Less Traveled is a perfect example of the beauty and depth of non-linear paths. She worked as a civil servant, for the United Nations and as a freelancer. She finds her joy when taking the hat of an activist: Maite Arrondo is an expert on the right to adequate housing and has been working for the past 8 years as a consultant on innovation in housing policies.
When she had to choose her theme for her master thesis, Maite noticed by reading the newspaper that housing was an emerging issue and decided to focus on it. Since then, her passion for the issues of housing and homelessness has never diminished; she continues to work on the connection between the international human rights based approach towards the right to adequate housing and its realisation at the local level.
Her passion for innovations in housing is obvious when she recalls the moment six or seven years ago when she learned for the first time about the model of Community Land Trust (a model of affordable housing and community development) in Puerto Rico, in Caño Martín Peña. She works for the Barcelona municipality, which is like a policy laboratory with their focus on housing and their creation of networks. One of the things I like best about my work is that I am always feeding my curiosity with peer learning exchanges. I get a chance to learn about other contexts, solutions and innovations.
Despite the worrying rise of homeless in Europe, she sees reasons to hope in the fact that some strategic measures are put in place: the UN adopted a resolution on homelessness, at the EU level the new European Bauhaus is being discussed and Spain adopted its first housing law, a new wave of coopeatives has emerged in Barcelona, etc.
Her advice for someone who is keen to work as a freelancer or in the field of housing:
Be patient and persistent!
Get a support network, both a peers/professional network and a personal network!
Support other women, especially women working as freelancers!
Keep learning by taking courses and going to conferences!
She concludes by stressing again that housing is a human right and that discussions and decisions on housing have an influence on how we want to live together, which kind of cities we want and whether our cities are designed for the well-being of the majority of people or for growing the capital.
In the episode, we use this quote from David Harvey from Rebel Cities:
“question of what kind of city we want cannot be divorced from the question of what kind of people we want to be, what kind of social relations we seek, what relation to nature we cherish”
“Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.”
Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities
Recommended publications and readings:
On Human Rights Based Approach into Housing Policies: https://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?si=A/HRC/37/53
On Innovation in Housing Polices:
The Right to Housing: A Mission-Oriented and Human Rights Based Approach https://councilonurbaninitiatives.com/resources/right-to-housing-a-mission-oriented-and-human-rights-based-approach
Housing Barcelona 2015-2023 ( English, Spanish and Catalan editions): https://bcnroc.ajuntament.barcelona.cat/jspui/handle/11703/129160
On Housing and Urbanism for all: The Death and life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs: The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs | Goodreads
On homelessness: The 7th Overview of Housing Exclusion in Europe 2022 by FEANTSA https://www.feantsa.org/en/report/2022/06/30/?bcParent=27
Documentary on Housing and financial speculation: https://make-the-shift.org/push/
One of the things I like best about my work is that I am always feeding my curiosity with peer learning. I get a chance to learn about other contexts, solutions and innovations.
Maite Arrondo is an expert on the right to adequate housing and has been working for the past 8 years as a consultant on innovation in housing policies. She is currently working for the Housing and Renovation Institute of Barcelona Municipality where she supports the international social and affordable housing agenda through international networks, events organization such as the European Housing Research Conference or the International Social Housing Festival. She is also the coordinator of the "Network of Cities for Collaborative Housing" (NETCO) on behalf of the Barcelona Council.
Additionally, she works part-time for a Spanish NGO HOGARSÍ Foundation working to end homelessness. In that position as International Officer, she is engaged with the UN Homelessness Working Group and the European Housing First Hub among others. A passionate advocate of the interplay between homelessness and housing policies, she always seeks to include gender mainstreaming to address structural discrimination towards women. She has worked as urban expert on exchange and research EU projects and programmes, and has recently joined the Advisory Board of the European Association for Local Democracy. At the end of the day, she is the proud mum of a little girl called Isabel, struggles with family and work balance and finds great joy in live music, theatre, reading and being with friends.
Follow her on twitter: @DchoVivienda