Barcelona and Madrid Mayors Seek Volunteers to House Migrants

Madrid and Barcelona's mayors are backing a campaign aimed at creating a register of households in the cities who are prepared to house refugees and asylum seekers, Spanish daily newspaper El País reported on Tuesday.

Ada Colau, the mayor of Barcelona who is backed by the left-wing party Podemos, was elected as head of the citizen platform Barcelona en Comú during May's local elections. Earlier this week she announced plans to create a register of households who are ready to donate material goods for refugees and asylum seekers or even volunteer to house them.

On Wednesday her counterpart from the Spanish capital, Manuela Carmena—who is also Podemos-backed—told radio station Onda Cero that she is going to meet with Colau on Friday as she is also interested in drafting a similar network of houses in Madrid. "I will speak with Colau, I am interested because we are two big, albeit different, cities, but we are welcoming," she told the Onda Cero network. "We are drafting a list of housing and lodging places for the possible quotas of refugees that may be assigned to us. We are willing to do whatever is necessary to take in whoever needs help, but we want the government to tell us how many people are going to arrive in Madrid."

Both Carmena and Colau's background is in citizen activism, with Colau previously leading a public campaign against evictions and the rising prices in Barcelona due to revenues from tourism, while Carmena is a retired lawyer who has led citizen campaigns against Francoist repression and in favor of small businesses.

The two mayors were both backed by radical left grassroots party Podemos and have introduced a series of more hard-line leftist policies, since assuming office. Colau issued a moratorium on granting new hotel licences in Barcelona, Europe's third biggest tourism destination and also aims at slashing the 16 million euro ($18 million) subsidy to Catalonia's F1 track. Meanwhile Carmena's Ahora Madrid platform have taken in ideas on how to transform the Spanish capital's exclusive Club de Campo golf club into an accessible, public space.

Other Spanish local governments have already backed the idea of a register with citizen households, offering accommodation and help for refugees, including the head of Valencia council Joan Ribó.

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