Lorena, 37, and Airam, 35, have lived on the street for a week with their son David (not his real name), a 9-year-old boy who is in a wheelchair. She also has a recognized disability. The Canarian couple moved from Ibiza to Santa Cruz de Tenerife in August 2020 and, since then, they have lived in two occupied houses. The conditions in the housing systems and the need for this family to find a roof in which to live together led them to take refuge in the occupation. The owners of the first house took Airam and Lorena to trial, then received the judicial uprising. “I tried to anticipate this situation and used the money I had to get another home,” explains Lorena’s husband. At that time, they paid an acquaintance to gain access to a second occupied home that they also lost. “The owners found out and changed the lock.” While Airam explains her story, Lorena stares blankly and only intervenes to talk about the minor.
Its history is part of the fifty families that have been camping for 40 days in the capital of Tenerife. The first period in front of the Presidency of the Government and the second and current one in the Plaza de La Candelaria, in the center of leisure and restoration of the capital of Tenerife. Airam sleeps in a tent, with other families trying to find an answer. Before, he patched the deficiencies of the system until he obtained a response from Social Services and the Canarian Housing Institute. However, the occupation has brought him and his family back to where they started. At this time, they are processing aid with the Municipal Institute of Social Attention (IMAS) of Santa Cruz and anxiously await a call from Visocan, the Canarian public company in charge of building social housing. “Visocan warns that right now there are no resources, that there are no houses,” says Lorena. And this despite the fact that the public company had a surplus of 8 million euros in 2020.
“What is happening to us now is nothing new, we have been waiting for a social housing for a year,” explains Airam sitting next to Lorena. Until last Friday, his situation was pending administrative procedures. Meanwhile, they wash themselves in a portable shower in the Plaza de La Candelaria and in the municipal bathroom. These residents of the Tenerife capital affirm that the only alternative their son has is the one offered to him by other people in his situation, with children in their care and who are about to be evicted on the island. The minor does not sleep on the street, but in homes affected by evictions in the Santa Cruz neighborhood of El Tablero. “The comrades are above all those who are giving us help and allow us to be here on loan and to be one more voice in their struggle,” his father confesses.
Single mothers and at risk of eviction
“I am lucky because I am the only one who has not received the letter of uprising or eviction, but it will arrive and I have to be prepared,” says Laia (not her real name) as she watches her 9-month-old baby walk along with other neighbors also embarked on their same cause. She is 25 years old and a single mother, she lives on some aid from the Canary Islands Government and on the pension that her daughter’s father sends her, from whom she is separated but with whom she maintains a good relationship. She is one of the 20 families affected by the evictions in building number 42 on the El Tablero climb. Those responsible for the anti-eviction movement and for social housing is rising on the island.
For these residents of the Santa Cruz neighborhood in June 2020, the uncertainty began. The first official notifications began to arrive slowly for families to leave their homes. Still in August 2021 they have not all arrived, Laia’s is missing, but the fate if Visocan does not reach an agreement with the vulture fund is the same: leave the building and stay on the street. The future of these families is only blocked by the decree law to suspend evictions promoted by Yolanda Díaz’s portfolio and which is in force until October 31. Despite the initiative, this stop Evictions are just a patch to a much larger basic problem: access to housing is not guaranteed despite being a fundamental right.
Jaqueline is 36 years old and is a native of La Gomera. He spends the afternoons camping, but at night he returns to a temporary home that the Government of the Canary Islands has offered him for 6 months. Jaqueline is the mother of two girls, one a year old and the other eleven, she has paralyzed two evictions and has an uprising pending on September 26. Despite the temporary suspension of home evictions, this Canarian mother has suffered an anxiety crisis and is undergoing treatment to be able to deal with a reality that often exceeds her.
A fundamental right: decent housing
Hanny Peinado alternates with the rest of the families to sleep outdoors in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. She is camping because she was scammed by “a ghost realtor,” as she likes to call it. “That everyone get on their feet and begin to respond to their people now,” Hanny implores. A statement of intent that aims to reflect what is stated in article 47 of the Spanish Constitution, which reads as follows: “All Spaniards have the right to enjoy a decent and adequate home. The public powers will promote the necessary conditions and establish the pertinent norms to make this right effective. ” These families do not speak of political colors when promoting their requests, only of the obligation of the different public bodies to guarantee access to live under a roof and with decent conditions.
In a folding chair, Mari Da Silva, 52, is sitting. This Spanish woman of Senegalese origin has been in Tenerife for 25 years and has lived for five years in a house that La Caixa sold to a vulture fund. She has two children, one of them with a disability, and although she has electricity in her house, she cannot install the water service, so she is forced to supply herself with a hydraulic truck that offers its services through the municipality of Arona, in the residing. The Arona City Council does not give him further solutions, he presented his request to access a social rent five years ago, but has not received a response. At this time, before the bank sold your home to a vulture fund, it tried to negotiate a lease with the entity, it was denied. So now they threaten her to leave her home and stay on the street with her children.
A week ago, Da Silva, drum in hand, was demonstrating with a dozen other people for a decent home in front of the Canary Islands Parliament located in Tenerife. “They are not suicides, they are murders,” chanted a line of women leading this demonstration. At the same time that the plenary session of the Chamber was being held, cries of “shame” were heard at the doors of the hemicycle.
Since the beginning of this mobilization, different public representatives have passed through the place. Among them, the La Laguna Councilor for Welfare, Rubens Ascanio, who had a meeting with some of the affected people. In a press release, La Laguna points out that the need for this type of building is “enormous” in the municipality, where 2,300 families are waiting to obtain social housing, according to the municipal body. To try to alleviate the deficiencies in this area, the Lagunero government (PSOE-Podemos-Avante La Laguna) assures that they have increased the budget for the purchase and rehabilitation of emergency family homes by 1.5 million euros. While pointing to future meetings with Visocan, he is always in the focus of all requests.
On the other hand, representatives of the Santa Cruz City Council have also passed through the place. The body led by José Manuel Bermúdez (Canary Islands Coalition) affirms that so far this year they have assisted a total of 161 people who said they were evicted. According to data provided by the Santa Cruz government, social workers in the capital have sent a total of 153 vulnerability reports to the courts (125 to the lower courts, 12 to the investigating courts, 1 to the social courts and 15 a Prosecutor’s Office).
Visocan always appears at the epicenter of questions and accusations when faced with requests from municipal services, from Platform 29F in charge of promoting camping and from affected families. For their part, public company sources uncheck her from the accusations and evade clear answers. In the same way in which they point out that the problem derived from camping in Santa Cruz is a matter raised to the Housing Department, and they defend that “Visocan is only an instrument, a tool of the Canary Islands Housing Institute”. At the moment, the only advanced conversations are those that the construction company has had in relation to the 20 homes in El Tablero, but no purchase agreement has yet been reached.
Despite the fact that Visocan is sheltered by the lack of budget to invest in social housing, this newspaper announced at the beginning of August that Visocan closed 2020 a surplus of 8.1 million euros and a balance of treasury of 17 million, 3.6 more than at the end of the previous year, according to the audit prepared by PriceWaterhouseCoopers Auditores SL.