News / Europe

    Homeless Families in Spain Squatting After Eviction

    Members of 'Stop Desahucios' [Stop evictions], 15M and 'Afectados X la Hipoteca' [Mortgage Victims Platform] block the door of the building of the Lopez family's flat, before being evicted for failing to pay their mortgage, in Malaga, July 6, 2012.Members of 'Stop Desahucios' [Stop evictions], 15M and 'Afectados X la Hipoteca' [Mortgage Victims Platform] block the door of the building of the Lopez family's flat, before being evicted for failing to pay their mortgage, in Malaga, July 6, 2012.
    x
    Members of 'Stop Desahucios' [Stop evictions], 15M and 'Afectados X la Hipoteca' [Mortgage Victims Platform] block the door of the building of the Lopez family's flat, before being evicted for failing to pay their mortgage, in Malaga, July 6, 2012.
    Members of 'Stop Desahucios' [Stop evictions], 15M and 'Afectados X la Hipoteca' [Mortgage Victims Platform] block the door of the building of the Lopez family's flat, before being evicted for failing to pay their mortgage, in Malaga, July 6, 2012.
    Caroline Arbour
    Protest groups in Spain have helped families that were kicked out of their homes by banks find shelter in repossessed, empty apartment buildings. Police moved in quickly in most cases, but in Seville about 30 families are going on six months of illegal occupation.

    Fifty-four-year old Mercedes Lladanosa showed us around the two-bedroom apartment she shares with her daughter and granddaughter. It has hardwood floors and a fancy faucet in the bathroom. But bare light bulbs hang uselessly from the ceiling.

    The electricity was shut off months ago.

    And the washing machine is only for show, as the city cut off the building’s access to running water last week.

    They cook with a gas camping stove. What little furniture Lladanosa has was donated or found in the trash. It is not much - a couch, a bed and a crib.  

    Squatting for survival

    She and more than 100 others have been living like this since May, in this five-story building that was completed three years ago and left empty when the developer went bankrupt.  

    Nearly 40 families moved in with help of members from the 15M activist group, like Antonio Moreno Rosana.

    “Right now in Spain we have something like 517 evictions a day. The thing is, just in Andalucía I think, there are 116,000 empty houses. It is outrageous that you have got empty houses when people are getting thrown out into the street,” said Rosana.

    Rampant evictions

    Hundreds of thousands of Spaniards have been evicted from their homes since the housing bubble burst in 2008.

    Once a house is repossessed by the banks, the owner is still liable for the mortgage, meaning several generations are being saddled with debt.

    Rosana said it makes no sense.

    "We think that, you know, if a bank has an empty house for a year or two years, that should be expropriated immediately. It is like you have it empty? No, you can not have it empty. We are going to put some people in there, if you are going to have it empty," said Rosana.

    15M group protests

    The 15M movement has tried a few times in Madrid, Barcelona and the Catalonian city of Sabadell to house evicted families in buildings now belonging to banks, but efforts were swiftly defeated by police. Lladanosa and her fellow squatters risk being thrown out any day.

    Not everyone lives in the building out of absolute necessity, and for some, making a statement is worth the risk.

    Social worker Montserrat Sanchez lost her job in an immigrant center two months ago and could not pay her rent anymore, so she went back to live with her mother and father, but then left.

    “I think I have the right, like everyone living in this world, to have my own house and my own place where to stay. And I do not think it is right to go back with my parents. So that is why I came here,” said Sanchez.

    Lladanosa and others show us the water fountain installed outside the building this week by the city, on the corner of an intersection, next to garbage bins. She hauls water from there up to her apartment to wash herself and to clean her clothes.

    The unemployed cook turned housekeeper said she wants to regain her dignity. She wants a roof over her head. Not for free. She wants to catch a break, though, and pay rent that she can afford.

    You May Like

    Video For Many US Veterans, the Vietnam War Continues

    More than 40 years after it ended, war in Vietnam and America’s role in it continue to provoke bitter debate, especially among those who fought in it

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    100 immigrants graduated Friday as US citizens in New York, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in cities across country

    Family's Fight Pays Off With Arlington Cemetery Burial Rights for WASPs

    Policy that allowed the Women Airforce Service Pilots veterans to receive burial rites at Arlington had been revoked in 2015

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora