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Caro affitto ti scrivo…: reality and prospects

The gesture of Ilaria Lamera has raised the issue of rents in large cities; the most affected are certainly university students. What solutions have been implemented?


From campus to camping the step is short; to do so was the gesture of Ilaria: from early May sleeps in a tent in front of the Politecnico di Milano, in protest against the unsustainable situation of rents in the Lombard capital. An initiative that has also been extended to other Italian universities, including Naples, Venice, Parma, Rome: “I wanted to make all this mess but I did not expect it at all”, says the twenty-three year old Bergamasca to ANSA microphones. But faced with this mess, what are the answers of the institutions? How big is the problem of expensive rentals today?

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Un post condiviso da La Terna Sinistrorsa Polimi (@la_terna_sinistrorsa)

We start from the university, in particular from Milan, being in the eye of the cyclone: UniMi offers 1193 beds divided into 9 structures in front of 60 thousand students enrolled. The situation does not improve in other Italian universities (source Ustat Miur, a.a. 2021/22 and CNSU report 2022. The numbers reported concern only state universities):

  • Piedmont: 125 thousand registered, 60 thousand residents outside the province, 2365 housing (3.94%).
  • Lombardy: 214 thousand registered, 123 thousand residents outside the province, 5211 housing (4.23%).
  • Emilia-Romagna: 166 thousand registered, 90 thousand residents outside the province, 3535 accommodations (3.9%)
  • Lazio: 183 thousand registered, 59 thousand residents outside the province, 2088 housing (3.53%).
  • Campania: 155 thousand registered, 58 thousand residents outside the province, 1376 housing (2.35%).
  • Sicily: 102 thousand registered, 37 thousand residents outside the province, 1665 lodgings (4.41%).

Worrying data, which show how far outsiders find themselves completely abandoned by the institutions, which should facilitate their studies.

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Un post condiviso da Unilab Svoltastudenti (@unilab.svoltastudenti)

For those who can not get one of these prestigious beds, it looks like the jungle of the real estate market of large cities, masterfully told by the page Instagram unterroneamilano, in the tragicomic column Aff(l)itti a Milano. Few who survive the Milanese Jumanji: stellar rentals for real closets, with kitchenette, corner toilet and a few cm2 for the sleeping area; scam ads and fees dizzying. Chapter apart would deserve the conditions of the houses and overcrowding of some of them. For those who come out in the first round of the game, it only remains to walk on the commuting avenue.

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Un post condiviso da Stefano Maiolica (@unterroneamilano)

Over the years, there has been no lack of alternatives and original ideas to overcome this serious discomfort. Social housing projects are definitely a viable alternative: often financed by private bodies, they allow students and students to access calmed rentals. A virtuous example is Cascina Fossata in Turin: financed by the Fondo Abitare Sostenibile Piemonte (FASP), promoted by the Compagnia di San Paolo Foundation, is a project that, in addition to offering 251 beds, reconciles social housing policies with suburban redevelopment.

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Un post condiviso da Open House Torino (@openhousetorino)

Bologna instead focuses on intergenerationality: Confabitare - Associazione Proprietari Immobiliari, for over ten years proposes the project Nonni adottano studenti: the elderly of Bologna open their homes and welcome students; in return they offer company and assistance. A project created to counteract both the phenomenon of rent in black and that of scams against the elderly population.

Prendi in casa uno studente, promoted by the MeglioMilano association to bring people together for mutual help and constructive confrontation”: Milanese families welcome students and workers not resident in the capital, without asking for a rent but a minimum contribution to family expenses (250-280 euros per month).

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Un post condiviso da Prendi in Casa (@prendiincasa)

Undoubtedly virtuous and noble realities, but they buffer a problem that the institutions should deal with. In this regard: what was the Government’s response to the protest of university students?

Already in January 2022 (Draghi Government), the Ministry of University and Research announced an investment plan of 467 million euros, three hundred of which financed with the PNRR, for the construction of residential university facilities: a call that is part of a larger project of 960 million total, which sets the goal of “bringing the number of housing for university students from the current 40,000 to over 100,000 by 2026.

The current Government, after the gesture of Ilaria, has established an inter-ministerial task force with the task of identify the average and controlled cost for every bed to territorial level, holding account of the market values of reference, the typologies of the real estate and the level of offered services. In addition, a reduction of 15 percent is expected to determine the final cost per bed. Successively: first it announces the immediate release of 660 million previewed always from the PNRR, through an amendment to the decreto PA; then it is made to postpone (someone would say is withdrawn) to the next D.L. formatters of material relevance. All within a few days: the story comments itself.

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Un post condiviso da Ministero Università e Ricerca (@mur_gov_)

Beyond the embarrassing institutional ballet of these days, to which are added the hypocritical solidarity walks of politicians in front of the Politecnico di Milano, the problem has distant roots. The needs of young people and students, who are not able to study, have not been listened to for decades. There is a lack of policies that contain the crazy rent (the 10% dry coupon is a timid solution, but it cannot be the only one); contracts and wages that allow to reconcile study and work; a long-term vision to rethink the models of university cities, with a view to creating suburban campuses that lighten the housing market of city centres.

We must hope that the protest of Ilaria and her companions is the first step, that it leaves a mark and is not forgotten too quickly.

Image Danilo Garcia Di Meo