Monday, July 4

Heads and tails of the fight against evictions in Madrid

That evictions continue in Spain despite the Government decree to limit them during the pandemic is something that is disillusioned by repeating the movements in defense of housing and that has been verified by the General Council of the Judiciary, which in its last report certified an increase in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same period last year. While waiting for the respite that the August holidays will bring in the courts, in Madrid two evictions were pending this Tuesday. One, in Arganzuela, was detained, after an agreement “in extremis” with Sareb. The other, in Vallecas, went ahead. A woman with four children has had to abandon, in riot gear, what was her home for the past seven years.

The hopes of stopping the eviction of Manuela, who lives in Portazgo, in the Puente de Vallecas district, were not high among the members of the Platform for People Affected by Mortgages (PAH). It was the fourth attempt, and this time the Police Intervention Unit was coming to break down the door. The announced time for the eviction was 9:30 a.m., but some thirty volunteers volunteered to spend the night in the block to avoid expulsion. The police arrived around 6 am and closed the access to the street with vans. When the appointed time arrived, the agents took those present from the floor one by one. Then the furniture: a mattress, a stroller, toys. Finally, Manuela and the girl. It took just an hour.

Inside the apartment Diego Sanz, from the PAH, was trying to avoid the eviction until the end, who reflected with a sad face on the actions of the agents: “The violence is structural, they have been even soft.” The apartment in question is today owned by Arguijo, a limited company that acquired the property from Bankia. The entity, as a result of the privatization of Caja Madrid, after a bank rescue, has just been absorbed by CaixaBank (also privatized), which can still be seen at the corner branch, where the latest signs are still being changed. The office windows were plastered yesterday with posters calling for “affordable rents.”

Empty flats occupied by homeless families were a recurring phenomenon during the worst years of the economic crisis. Some have been regularized through social rents. Manuela also tried, but the social services of the City Council determined that, as she was collecting the minimum vital income, it was not appropriate to process it, explains Sanz. Outside the apartment, a taxi driver from the neighborhood who went back and forth every so often not to miss a race, complained about the media agenda: “They are talking about Cuba as if there were no precariousness here.” At the end, Manuela came out, her face tired: “Nothing could be done, thank you very much for everything.” For now, their mother-in-law will take them in for a few days. “Let’s see what happens to us,” he said goodbye.

Sareb Plan

With a little more modesty, the Asset Management Company from Bank Restructuring (Sareb) addresses the evictions, the bad bank that absorbed the toxic brick, whose debt of 35,000 million euros has just returned to swell public accounts, once the accounting devices that kept it apart have been undone. In the building on Calle Cáceres, 7 there were 17 families pending eviction. Here it was possible to prove the social rent, but the Sareb had played the mistake, in the opinion of Lucía Casado, spokesperson for the PAH Centro-Arganzuela.

Communications with the bad bank are usually erratic, the messages are contradictory, according to Casado criticism, although the relationship with the movements for housing has improved since the so-called Sareb Plan, an initiative of the platforms to centralize communications and present joint battle for all tenants at risk of going home.

There are still many to join, but there are already 200 cases in Spain, the majority in Madrid, especially in Carabanchel and Vallecas. “Sareb keeps trying to execute [lanzamientos], they throw balls out, “warns Casado, who also criticizes the alleged ignorance that the bad bank has of the real situation of their properties in their portfolio.” They do not know which homes are inhabited or where they have them; They even took one of Carabanchel’s companions out of the house and then put her back in with a social rent, “he says.

“There is no lack of coordination, we carry out a meticulous internal management”, defends a spokesperson for the entity, who justifies that its catalog varies because “unpaid loans (all from developers and not from private mortgages) are usually transformed into real estate which appeared as guarantees precisely for the defaults themselves “. “We are always open to receiving proposals for improvement”, he concedes.

What ended badly in Vallecas was amended at the last minute in Arganzuela. The oldest tenant was the caretaker, Marcela Cuadro, at the sentry box since 1980. This year she turned 70 years old. “With what I have fought for this block, they had to give me the apartment,” he challenged last week, when an agreement had not yet been reached. Last night she was able to sleep peacefully.