Every day, Spain sinks a little deeper into crisis. And many Spaniards are caught up in the vicious circle with unemployment figures topping 24 percent, rising rent costs and for some, the street. According to the charity Caritas, 30,000 are homeless.
A month ago, the Jimenez family still had an apartment in the Hortaleza neighbourhood of Madrid. Today they are camped outside.
Esther pointed to the tarpaulin sheeting and said: “This is our home now. We used to live over there but they took our home from us. So now we’ve made this.”
Esther is unemployed and Juaquin, the father, repaired cars before the crisis but this is no longer possible. They have four daughters. The eldest is 17 and is well aware of the situation but the smaller ones don’t understand the enormity of it.
Juaquin described the children’s perspective: “It’s the shame. The two young ones look at it like a kind of father and mother game. A play from house to house.”
All the family’s belongings are still in their former home They have nowhere else to store them.
Esther showed us around: “All this is my clothes, my carpets, my home. This was the kitchen, bedroom and the living room.”
The apartment was sealed off after their expulsion. The family survives on 540 euros given to them by the municipality with any other help they can find.
And living conditions are not the only problem, Esther said: “The social worker doesn’t tell me much. Apart from that if my children continue to stay here with me, they’ll take them.”
Despite all their misfortune, the Jimenez family are lucky to have a brother-in-law who lives nearby. That family support saves at least some of their dignity. It means they can wash, cook at the brother-in-law’s and the two girls sleep there.
At night, the locals find themselves in the street, some have kept their apartments, others have not and nobody can afford to help the Jimenez family. The average rent for an apartment in the neighbourhood is 1,000 euros.
Juaquin spoke of his plans for the near future: “We must hang in here for as long as necessary, or else I’ll force my way into an apartment and deal with the formal stuff from there. The winter is really hard. And I have no means, no money. We’re in Spain and everyone claims the right to a decent home. But I simply can’t see that. “
Nearly, a quarter of Spanish households live under the poverty line.