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Digital Subscriptions > Newsweek International > 30th June 2017 > NO PLACE LIKE (SOMEONE ELSE’S) HOME

NO PLACE LIKE (SOMEONE ELSE’S) HOME

In Spain, thousands of homeless people are squatting, and owners are using rough tactics to try and get them out

SPAIN

VERONICA and her three small children live in a modernist building in a quiet, working-class Barcelona neighborhood. The apartment is perfect for the young family, except for one thing: They are living there illegally. Veronica, who declined to give her last name for fear of eviction, is among the thousands of people squatting in vacant apartments throughout Spain.

Before Veronica became a squatter, she and her children slept in two single beds in a cockroachinfested room she rented in a working-class neighborhood. “There was no space,” she says, “not even for a cot. I was so stressed.” Stressed enough, she adds, that she was willing to break the law and move into a vacant apartment in a nicer part of town. “I didn’t have any other option, especially with children,” she tells Newsweek.

Many Spaniards share her desperation. The country’s economy has recovered from 2008’s devastating global financial crisis, and its gross domestic product recently surpassed pre-crisis levels for the first time in nine years. But for the 4.25 million unemployed Spaniards like Veronica, it doesn’t feel as if the recovery has arrived. The unemployment rate is above 18 percent, while average household income has dropped 13 percent since 2009, from 30,000 euros to 26,000.

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