Inici » The struggle of vulnerable families to avoid eviction from public flats

The struggle of vulnerable families to avoid eviction from public flats

un hombre y una mujer están juntos en una sala de estar, uno lleva gafas y el otro lleva una camisa blanca, Carol Bove, ultra gran angular, una fotografía de archivo, gótico internacional

This Tuesday, a scene was repeated in the Verneda neighborhood in Barcelona. A van from the Mossos d’Esquadra appeared in front of a block of flats, with the intention of evicting a family that was living in a housing owned by the Catalan Housing Agency (AHC). But he didn’t succeed. About fifty people, including residents, municipal workers and activists, prevented it with their peaceful resistance. They celebrated their temporary victory, but they know the battle is not over. The family has ten days to find a solution, or they will be at risk of losing their roof again.

An unexpected eviction

The protagonists of this story are Aaron, Samara and their two daughters aged three and four. They have been living in a flat on Via Trajana for six years, which they occupied when they had no other option. Since then, they have been in contact with social services and the AHC, to try to regularize their situation and access a social rental. According to Paula, spokesperson for the Housing Union of Verneda and El Besòs, who accompanies them in the process, there was an open dialogue and a desire to find a way out. Because of this, they were surprised to receive an eviction notice, with no prior notice or alternative offered.

“It is very unfair, because the person who should be guaranteeing you wants to take your house away, if you do not have the resources to pay the market. We have done everything they have asked us, we have submitted all the documentation, we have gone to all the appointments , but they haven’t given us any answers. And now we find ourselves with this,” laments Aaron, who asserts that the flat where he lives is his neighborhood, where he was born and where he has his roots. He and his family are another example of the people who are forced to occupy public housing, due to the lack of affordable supply and effective housing rights policies.

A recurring problem

The case of Aaron and Samara is not isolated. In Barcelona, ​​there are other families in similar situations, who have occupied a public flat and are now facing possible eviction, without being offered any housing solution. This same Thursday, a similar situation took place in the Ciutat Meridiana neighborhood, in Nou Barris, where Yolanda, a single mother of two, managed to stop her eviction in extremis. She has also been living for seven years in a Generalitat apartment, and has also not been able to formalize a social rent, despite having a social vulnerability report.

“It’s a matter of luck. There are families who have occupied public flats and have been evicted after a short time. Others, on the other hand, have spent years without anyone telling them anything. And suddenly, an eviction comes to them, without their situation should be taken into account, when they are poor people who need housing”, complains Fili Bravo, spokesperson for the residents’ association of Ciutat Meridiana, one of the neighborhoods with the highest risk of social exclusion in the city.

A conflict of interest

When there is an eviction from a public flat, there is a conflict of interest between the administration and the people affected. On the one hand, the administration argues that it must recover its homes in order to be able to award them to people who are registered in the official registers, who also have the right to a social flat. On the other hand, the people who occupy the public flats allege that they are also applicants for social housing, that they are in a vulnerable situation and that they have no other alternative.

From the social groups, it is criticized that this is the consequence of the lack of adequate public policies to guarantee the right to housing, which has been aggravated by the increase in the price of rent and the economic crisis. It is also demanded that the families’ cases be studied before proceeding with the eviction, and that the social route be prioritized, offering them an affordable rent, instead of the judicial or police route.

A change of course

Both Barcelona City Council and the Generalitat have recognized the need to promote measures to increase the public housing stock and facilitate access to social rent for people who need it. For this reason, they have launched several projects to build or acquire new homes, as well as to rehabilitate those that are in a bad state. In addition, they have announced their intention to regulate rent prices and to penalize empty flats. However, these results will not be immediate, and in the meantime, the social urgency persists.

For this reason, the administration has also chosen to change the criteria regarding evictions from public flats. In some cases, it has been decided to suspend or stop them, to reassess the situation of the families and find them an alternative housing. This is what they have done, for example, with the case of Yolanda, in Ciutat Meridiana, or with the case of three people in Carrer Robador, in the Raval. He has also promised to do so with the case of Aaron and Samara, in Verneda, who expect a definitive answer next week. Their hope is to be able to continue living in their neighborhood, with the guarantee of a social rent, without having to suffer anymore from the fear of losing their home.

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