Some people don’t even know their neighbors’ names, but in Spain protesters are gathering in front of people’s houses to stop or stall foreclosures. And they’re getting results.
NYT reports on how the activists are organizing the protests in front of their fellow neighbors houses, using cellphones, and Facebook, Twitter and other electronic means to get hundreds of people to show up on the day the evictions are supposed to happen. When the officials see the crowds, they usually leave, and it can take a month for them to re-organize to try to evict again. The protesters hope that in the time period the bank can be convinced to rent the houses back to the people living inside at an affordable rate.
Like the US and other parts of the world, Spain underwent a housing boom fueled by debt and mortgages being written to people who should never have gotten them. But unlike the US, Spanish citizens are denied two common ways of getting out. They are not allowed to simply send the keys back to the bank and give up the house and they can’t get rid of the debt through bankruptcy. Instead they are personally liable for the full amount of the loan after the foreclosure. Add penalty and interest and a few tens of thousands in court fees, and you’ve got destitution.
The non-profit housing advocacy group says the eviction protests have blocked 30 evictions since June.