THE suicide of a woman facing eviction for her debts has prompted Spain to approve new measures to help those facing homelessness due to the economic crisis.
Yesterday, the government ordered a two-year suspension of any move to evict vulnerable homeowners unable to meet mortgage payments, including those with small children, the disabled and long-term unemployed.
“This is an emergency response to mitigate the effects of the worst of the economic crisis,” said deputy premier Soraya Saenz de Santamaria.
Spain is facing a housing crisis after a construction boom ended in a crash in 2008, leaving one million properties empty. The government also vowed to increase the stock of social housing for those made homeless.
Spanish banks, many of which are about to receive the first funds from a €100 billion (£80bn) credit line from a European bailout, have repossessed 400,000 properties since 2008, though not all of these are residential. The trend is growing, with 50,000 repossessions in the first half of the year, against 77,000 for the whole of 2011.
Though most evictions following the crash involved immigrants, more Spaniards are now losing their homes, experts say, as unemployment benefit runs out and family networks fray in the worst recession in 50 years.
The death last Friday of Amaia Egana, 53, who jumped from her fourth-floor flat in the Basque country as bailiffs came to turn her out of her home, grabbed headlines and pushed the issue to the top of the political agenda. It was the second such suicide in as many months.
The eviction moratorium will only apply to families with income of less than €19,200 (£15,400) a year.