Social emergency

More than 700 people living in substandard housing or shanties in Barcelona

Pro-housing movements call for a rally for this evening

2 min
419 people living in irregular settlements in Barcelona

Barcelona"The premises did not meet the conditions of habitability," said Mayor Ada Colau when she arrived this morning at the scene of the fire which took the lives a family of two adults and two small children. And it was not a house, it was a bank office. The situation of substandard housing in which this family was living is neither an isolated case nor a new phenomenon. In Barcelona alone, more than 700 people are living in shanties and abandoned premises or spaces, according to the latest data from the Fundació Arrels, based on the Transparency portal of the Barcelona City Council.

In fact, the Social Services and the Catalan police were aware that the old bank office in Tetuan was a squat. The City Council had helped the family killed in the incident to school their children and, in parallel, the police knew the cohabitants, because they had had to intervene several times to break up fights. As a result of this, the police included this dwelling in a list of their own that began to be created after the fire a year ago in a warehouse in Badalona, where four people also died. In this same report, as confirmed by the police, the force has listed around forty such dwellings. Most are warehouses similar to the one in Badalona.

Nothing, however, has managed to prevent the deadly incident. The social movements in favour of decent housing recall the situation of extreme vulnerability suffered by people living in substandard housing of this type. "It is the tip of the iceberg of a failed system," says the Sindicat de Llogaters in a statement. In a tweet on social networks, they also emphasise that not guaranteeing the right to housing and basic supplies leads many people to seek risky alternatives.

The Sindicat d'Habitatge de l'Eixample, on the other hand, has already called a demonstration of rejection this evening under the slogan "They are not deaths, they are murders".

Charities demand greater commitment from administrations to ensure the rights of children

On the other hand, the Federation of Organisations for the Care of Children and Adolescents (FEDAIA) has demanded greater commitment from the administrations to avoid "cases of extreme poverty with dramatic consequences" and to guarantee the fundamental rights of children and their families. FEDAIA has also stressed that there are many families who "are forced" to live in substandard housing, in situations of extreme poverty, "which put their lives at risk and represent an unacceptable violation of their fundamental rights"

This organisation has been demanding for a year that the administrations create a Catalan strategy for the eradication of poverty among children and young people in the framework of the Commitment for Children, Youth and their Families. "Today this demand is more valid than ever, unfortunately due to an event that should not have occurred under any circumstances," they conclude.