17 Feb 2013

Protests at evictions in Spain

10:10 am on 17 February 2013

Demonstrations have been held in Spain in support of a proposed bill to end evictions of homeowners ruined by the economic crisis.

Several thousand people marched in central Madrid on Saturday. Similar protests were called in Barcelona and 50 other cities.

Parliament agreed on Tuesday to debate a bill to protect poor homeowners, which was backed by a petition with more than 1.4 million signatures.

The Platform for Mortgage Victims says hundreds of thousands of people have been evicted in the crisis brought on by the collapse of the housing market in 2008.

Since then, the rate of unemployment has risen to 26%, leaving many people unable to pay mortgages on houses whose value has fallen.

There have also been a number of suicides of people reportedly driven to despair by the prospect of eviction, including a retired couple in Mallorca on Tuesday.

The bill proposes to change the law to end evictions and to allow insolvent house owners to write off their debts by surrendering their home.