Receiving an eviction order is always a big blow. After opening the envelope, the anguished question “What now?” Arises. When the envelope goes on behalf of an older person , the emotional collapse is still worse. And it does not come suddenly, but after months of fear and nerves over the accumulation of unpaid receipts from the loan or rent. Psychologists and support entities warn that it is one of the most fragile groups in the eviction drama. The stories of Rosa and Pilar and Miguel, in Valencia , are a good example of this.
And they are not isolated cases. At the end of 2013, the housing emergency study in the Spanish state , prepared by the PAH together with the Desc Observatory, ensured that one third of foreclosures occur in households with one or two people over 65 years of age.
No floor for having to reform it
After a long marriage, Rosa’s husband disappeared when he retired. It provided the only source of income in the home and they were paying the loan with which they reformed the apartment, the same one they presented as collateral. The works were not the result of a whim: they needed them because Rosa has a disability of 72%.
After the abandonment, Rosa stayed at home broken. He is 69 years old and lives in the Marxalenes neighborhood with an unemployed 42-year-old son. He knows that with his pension of 370 euros per month he will never be able to pay a debt of 35,000 euros. The bank proceeded to issue an attachment order, which led to an eviction court order. As soon as she saw herself alone and with the debt, she filed two demands: one for leaving home and another for divorce.
As every Friday, Rosa attends the weekly assembly of the PAH of Valencia . She says that at first she did not want to go because she felt very confused and “locked” in herself, but the social worker insisted and agreed. There he listens, learns from people who are in similar situations and shares his experience. After the general meeting, the attendees are organized into smaller groups depending on the bank that affects them. Rosa is in the one of the little ones.
Primus is the entity that granted her and her husband eluded
the loan that led her to despair. An online bank, based in Madrid, of “difficult access” and with a 902 telephone, comments. And that does not accept the controversial Code of Good Practices – non-mandatory subscription – that was achieved through an ILP in 2013. “We asked for a social rent of 50 euros and the payment in payment, but did not agree,” says Liliana , spokesman of the PAH in Valencia.
“I stopped paying the mortgage and the warning came in. I did not have anything, the only thing that enters my house, for two people, is 370 euros,” regrets Rosa. Your son, standing, lives with her. Both survive with the pension and what they receive from the Food Bank. She has another daughter who lives with her partner and two children, but she can not help them: both are also unemployed.
And her husband? “He also signed the mortgage, but in this country when he signs a marriage, if there is no separation of assets, the debt is charged to the one on the floor,” Liliana explains. “He retired and left, he disregarded everything and disappeared,” reproaches Rosa. At the beginning of the mortgage procedure he had no known address, but they ended up finding him, so now he will have to assume responsibilities. The embargo, which would settle the debt without having to resort to eviction, is carried out when the minimum inter-professional salary is exceeded, which is not Rosa’s but it could be that of her still husband.
The floor is no longer Rosa, but will continue to live there until March 2015, at least, as it achieved the moratorium with which the Government procrastinated the problem of evictions for many affected. A critical date that will have to talk, two months before the regional elections where there is so much at stake. “If they do not give us a solution, we’ll send it to them,” Liliana warns. In the worst case, Rosa says she looks “under a bridge with a tent”. “The solution would be to leave me on the floor until I die, and then let the bank keep it,” he suggests. When asked what his son would do, it is clear: “Life will be sought.”
Two guarantors to pay a taxi license
Martin was forced to retire from construction after suffering a work-related accident. Then he met a taxi driver who was going to retire and asked him to sell his license. It was expensive, but he saw a good opportunity to make a living and asked for a loan to the bank for 132,000 euros. As he lives rent, with his wife and daughters, his mother-in-law offered her apartment as collateral.
Although the value of the apartment almost tripled the loan, according to those affected, the bank considered that it was not enough. Then he went to his parents: Pilar and Miguel, aged 63 and 70 respectively, residents of the Valencian town of Sueca. They own unused land; an empty house, which had been the home of Pilar’s now deceased parents; and the house of the couple, who bought “with the work of a lifetime”.
“We wanted to use the land as collateral, because my husband can no longer work for health, but they said it was not enough and they asked us for everything, including my parents’ house,” explains Pilar. They signed as “solidary endorsement”, without knowing that this implied the endorsement of all their assets.
Martin did not do too well and the difficulties began to continue paying ‘the letters’ of the taxi license. Soon after, Pilar and Miguel received the eviction order and discovered that all the family properties were in danger: the land, the house of Pilar’s parents, his own and also that of Martin’s mother-in-law. “We thought we were leaving the empty apartment on bail, not everything, the notary did not warn us, they were also involved and they have a very large part of the blame,” says Pilar. And he adds: “If we do not stop it, we will go to the street to the three families, we have been fighting behind the bank for two years and they do not give us an answer”.
To his economic difficulties they are added
as in other cases of affected with an advanced age, the health problems: Miguel has skin cancer and prostate cancer; Pilar, rheumatoid arthritis and several herniated discs. As her children live abroad, Pilar says she had saved to pay a person to take care of them when they can no longer fend for themselves. “But that will also be taken away,” he sighs. “They have had a very bad childhood, a lot of need, and when they reach the last stage of their lives, they are even worse than in childhood, it is regrettable,” says PAH spokeswoman in the Ribera Baja, María José García.
Avalistas de los hijos
The usual profile of elderly people who receive an eviction order is precisely that of guarantors , explain PAH sources. People who with their flat backed the mortgage loan -or of another kind- of a son, who has lost his job. A hard scourge of the crisis that devastates an entire family: the bank keeps the floor of the child and that of the parents, who have paid with the work of a lifetime. Those affected – all the family – are left with nothing and still with a huge outstanding debt.
According to the data offered by the PAH, 23% of foreclosures that have reviewed the platform are guarantees of the parents’ home. “It’s shameful and inhuman to drag elderly people with disabilities or sick people out of their homes, I get hysterical,” Rosa says indignantly.
The feeling of guilt is the first personal struggle that those affected must overcome. “They come to the PAH crying, feeling guilty and ashamed, wondering why they signed the mortgage, but the only culprits, the ones who should be ashamed, are the ones who set up the real estate bubble and gave easy loans with the floor guarantee. the faults and that the tears turn into rage, “says Liliana.
Psychologists Without Borders (PSF), an organization formed by volunteers, offers its services to people without resources and collaborates with the PAH of Valencia. As they explain, their main function is to eliminate that fault related to the signing of the mortgage. “It’s easy to dismantle it” with arguments, they say, although “it takes a while to stop feeling it”. “We make them understand that signing was the best they could do at the time and that they did it for the good of the family, not to do business, it is very easy to blame yourself with what is known now, but you have to focus on the present and see what we can do, “says one of the volunteers.
Disinformation and physical ailments versus life experience
An eviction is a drama for anyone, be 30 or 70 years old. One of the psychologists of PSF recognizes that the symptoms are similar in all those affected. However, older people have aggravations, such as “physical ailments”, which add to the usual feelings of anxiety, confusion, exhaustion, despair … “They sink into a depression, they see everything black and without exit, no they can concentrate and forget things, then they get even more overwhelmed because they think they have Alzheimer’s, “explains one of the volunteer psychologists.
PSF explains that one of the biggest obstacles for older people is that they do not usually master so much information technology, so they are overwhelmed on an island of information and do not know where to go. On the other hand, the possibilities of remaking your life are also different. “If a 30-year-old couple is taken off the floor and given a dation in payment, giving them a second chance to start over, they could find work, rent a small apartment and rebuild. the street, both psychically and economically, is much more difficult “, compares Liliana. In addition, the trauma of losing the ‘lifelong’ home is much greater than abandoning a recent purchase floor.
But older people also have aces in their sleeve that give them strength. “As they have more experience, they tend to be braver, they do not let themselves be intimidated,” says one of the psychologists, “a young person tends to cling more easily to the bank’s director, while an older person does not have a hair in the tongue.” His tactic is to make them see the eviction in perspective: “I always ask: how old are you?” 65, they tell me, and with everything you’ve lived, do you think this is the worst thing that has happened to you in your life? ‘Well, no,’ then this obstacle will also be overcome. ” “We try to make them see that any situation that comes can take over, that they will adapt,” adds the psychologist.
In addition, they recommend attending PAH meetings to meet people with the same problems and “actively involved”: “If we are in company, we reason the problems, but if we think about them alone, we often keep the worst fantasy. ” One of the volunteers stresses the importance of detecting if those affected have someone to share their concerns with. “We had an older couple who had been together for many years but who did not talk to each other about their feelings about the eviction,” he says.
His PAH colleagues say that Rosa is not the shadow of what she was months ago
Although he prefers to listen and learn, he sometimes gets outbursts and cries out against political corruption and legal permissiveness in Spain towards the mortgage clauses of banks. Still annoyed by the words that emanate from her mouth, she immediately apologizes and says that she does not speak well of those subjects, but the certain thing is that her personal circumstances have generated in her a political conscience that years before she never would have imagined. And, despite everything, retains a sense of humor.
But it has not always been like this. “At first I only thought about the worst of the worst, but I have changed, what can be remedied will be remedied, and what can not be remedied, I will not have it for many laps,” he says, paraphrasing Confucius without knowing it. She says she has “changed the chip”: “Before I was not able to say a word and now I’ve let go a lot, I was closed, desperate … and I’m still desperate, but in a different way”.
Rosa points out that in the PAH, in addition to information, she has found “a lot of moral support”. “They understand us, we can talk, we are very well advised,” she thanks as she hands the activists cuddles. He had not found the same support his daily environment, precisely. Many friends left her aside because she could not stay daily, as before, to have a coffee.
The Shared Homes initiative offers a solution to elderly people who do not have a roof: share a flat . Thanks to the collaboration and transfer of flats by public bodies, private entities and individuals, it offers affordable rents for pensioners who can not access their homes to decent housing.
At the moment, five people already enjoy the benefits of this initiative for half a year. They come from very different places like a hostel in precarious conditions or shared flats with several people in unsustainable situations.
When we talk about this initiative to Rosa, the protagonist of the report, she says she can not see herself sharing a flat. But Amparo Azcutia, the social worker who manages the project, assures that none of the tenants “is there because they want”, but because it is the best of all the options they had before their lack of resources.
Hogares Compartidos received this year’s 2014 Impulsa Award for “The best social project” awarded by the Association of Social Workers of Valencia.