The story of Spain’s economic, social and political crisis is one about property, need and value. And at the heart of that story lies a question that is familiar to the point of cliché: what makes a house a home? It may sound trivial, but in a country where families are sleeping in the street, entire building blocks are devoid of residents and housing remains out of reach for major swathes of the population (despite the ubiquity of “For Sale” signs in the urban landscape), it is a question that remains largely unanswered by policy-makers.
For over four years, the Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca (PAH or “Mortgage Victims’ Platform”, in English) have pursued a simple and poetic response to this question: people living together, for one another. Their campaign for mutual aid, solidarity and civil disobedience strike at the very core of Spain’s power structure, and despite an often overwhelming institutional blockade, have received the support of up to 90% of the population.
Image via juevesenmedio/flickr. Creative Commons 2.0 license.
Image via Jove/wikimedia. Creative Commons 1.0 license.
EM: Right now, daily life in Spain is rough and getting rougher. The right to decent housing is systematically violated in Spain. There are over four million empty houses, evictions are still rampant, public housing is about 1% of total housing and news reports are saying that even that will be privatised. Just a few months ago, the City of Madrid sold 3000 subsidized homes to Goldman Sachs. The unemployment rate is still at record highs, nearly 28%. It’s over 50% for youth, so they will not be able to leave their homes and will have to be maintained by their families until they’re in their thirties. Cuts in education are making it more difficult for young people to go to university and cuts to health services are already leaving thousands of people excluded from the Spanish public health system.