“The white doors are giving more money than the brown ones.” This is how Teresa, the 72-year-old woman they are trying to evict, summarizes what has been happening in her building since 2018. The brown doors, a minority, are those of the neighbors who still remain in the block. The white ones are those of those who managed to kick out years ago and, now, they are vacation rental apartments. The company that owns it wants Teresa’s to become a white door as well after her tenant has spent the last 23 years there.
Teresa’s eviction was going to take place at one in the afternoon this Tuesday. However, members of various associations of movements for the defense of housing have managed to stop it. As of eleven o’clock, people have begun to flock to the portal of the emblematic building. It was not the first time they had come to him to try to stop an eviction. “Not houses without people, not people without houses,” they shouted. Although the voices and the successes have increased when the Judicial Commission has arrived, which sought to expel the neighbor from the Lavapiés neighborhood. “You are not alone, Teresa”, the activists sang while the old woman spoke with the commission.
Teresa has been holding on like a wild boar since 2018 so that the inhabitants of this city, and especially of this neighborhood, are not replaced by tourists”
The spokeswoman for the protesters reported that Teresa was finally staying at home. “We have suspended it this time because all the people from the housing movement are here,” she announced. “It has been suspended until July 1 nothing else. But we will return and it will be suspended again, ”said the spokeswoman between choreos. “Teresa has been holding on like a wild boar since 2018 so that the inhabitants of this city, and especially of this neighborhood, are not replaced by tourists. Because we don’t want speculation to kick us out and it’s not going to kick us out.”
Calm has now returned to Teresa. She knows that at least until July 1, the date established by the Judicial Commission, she will continue to live in her house. Emotional and with tears, she thanked all the people in the housing movement who came to help her today.
It wasn’t until yesterday afternoon that he heard the news. They were going to throw her out of her house and no one had contacted her to let them know. She contacted the Community to find out what would happen. “On the fourth call they took it from me and said that everything was moving forward,” she explains. A decision that the judge of the Court of Instruction number 48 made ignoring the Royal Decree that, due to the COVID pandemic, prohibited the termination of rental contracts, as indicated by the Tenants’ Unions.
Airbnb is doing everything, that’s the explanation there is”
Teresa has been more than a year without being able to pay the rent that the owner of the building raised to try to kick her out. “Of 355 euros that she paid, they raised me to 1,500 euros. I have a pension of 420 euros. She does not give me to pay ”. She is clear about why they want to get her out of her house: “Airbnb is doing everything, that’s the explanation there is.” She says that now they accuse her “of not paying and being a squat.” “But that’s not like that, I have my contract.”
Family to family, neighbor to neighbor and eviction to eviction. This is how they are emptying the block of Argumosa, 11 in the neighborhood of Lavapiés. An emblematic building that is already a symbol of how real estate speculation expels residents from their homes and their neighborhood.
eviction by eviction
Teresa’s is not the first. It was in 2017 when the battle against the residents of Argumosa 11 began. A lawyer and a secretary, representatives of the new owner, knocked on several of the doors of the 33 homes in the building. The announcement was clear, they had two options: take the 2,000 euros that they were offered if they left the houses the following month, since their contracts would not be renewed, or vacate the houses and hand over the keys when their contracts expired. The neighbors, who did not understand anything, only got one answer: “Next year (2018) we want the building empty.”
Months later, already in 2018, the neighbors who stayed in the building received a letter. Investment in Proindivisos SL, the new company that owns the block, announced that the contracts would not be extended and that on June 1, the expiration date, they had to hand over the keys. The neighbors refused: “We are not going.” Some time later, the eviction attempts began.
In July 2018 the first attempt was carried out, but the neighbors resisted it. Josefa Santiago, better known as Pepi, and her two daughters managed to stay in the house where they had been living for more than two decades. Like them, the rest of the families, nine in total, who had received an eviction lawsuit for non-payment of rent.
The neighbors resisted. Eviction that was scheduled, eviction that was stopped. But in 2019, with a large police force that the neighbors have not yet forgotten, they evicted four families. Something “unprecedented” happened for the housing defense associations, three different courts had indicated for the same day and at the same time four evictions in the same block. The device resulted in six detainees and several identified. The activists fought like so many other times, but this time it was unstoppable. Pepi Santiago, symbol of the struggle, and the families of Rosi, Juani and Mayra went to the streets.