In an effort to address the growing nationwide problem of evictions, the Cabinet on Thursday approved a series of measures that include creating a pool of low-rent public housing for families who lose their homes to the banks.
At a news conference, Economy Minister Luis de Guindos explained that the stock of rentals would be built up using foreclosed properties that are currently in the hands of the banks.
Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría said that other measures include a two-year moratorium on the eviction of particularly vulnerable people, including families with monthly income of below 1,600 euros, large families, those with a child under three years old, those with disabilities and those with dependents. The jobless with no right to unemployment benefits and certain cases of domestic violence victims will also be entitled to protection.
More than 80 percent of Spaniards are homeowners and unlike some other European countries, there is a lack of affordable public housing for low-income groups.
Some 400,000 homes have been repossessed by the banks since 2008 because of the ongoing economic crisis in Spain. The country has slipped back into recession for the second time in three years. The jobless rate recently moved above 25 percent for the first time on record and is expected to increase yet further.
While the measures were being announced in Madrid, a court in Valencia suspended at the last minute the eviction of Gisela Bajo Quintana, a single mother who lives with her 13-year-old daughter.
“They have already been here three times but they leave when the dog starts barking,” she said, referring to court bailiffs.
Members of the Platform for the Mortgage Affected promised to show up each time the bailiffs threatened to come by. Nevertheless, a court restraining order was issued against the eviction while a judge hears Bajo Quintana’s case.
Thursday’s Cabinet decree does not include any modification to the Mortgage Law, in line with demands of the main opposition Socialist Party (PSOE), which was in eventually unsuccessful talks with the government in an effort to reach a joint agreement.
“The PSOE had asked for more time and what we have done is to bring a royal decree to the table that will go into effect as soon as possible,” Sáenz de Santamaría said.
Before the decree was announced, Socialist leader Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba explained that “important differences” still exist between the two parties on how to deal with a social problem that has taken on a dramatic turn after the suicides of two people who were about to have their homes repossessed. The PSOE wanted the moratorium on evictions extended to all families covered by the Code of Good Practices adhered to by the banks earlier this year.