Joan Alvado

Location: Barcelona
Nationality: Catalan
Biography: Born in Altea in 1979, Joan Alvado has lived in Barcelona since 2005. His works have been published in media like The New York Times, CNN, The Washington Post, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, El Pais, Hurriyet, VICE, Descobrir Catalunya, 7K magazine,... read on

Collective occupations: laboratories of housing against massive evictions.

One of the main symptoms of the economic crisis in the Spanish state has been a high increase in evictions due to non-payment of the mortgage: it is estimated that more than 170.000 families have been evicted since the beginning of the crisis in July 2008. In response to this, evicted people and support groups are now promoting the initiative of occupying housing blocks to prevent families are left without home.

The main solidarity group is the Mortgage Victim's Plaftorm (PAH). PAH intensified since 2013 a campaign which reclaims the occupation of unused buildings owned by banks as a way of managing social housing in extreme cases, when the evicted families have nowhere to go.

There are now more than 15 buildings reoccupied by the PAH collectives in Catalonia. All these properties were owned by banks, and accumulated years of disuse. 15 housing blocks that now are shelter for more than 1000 people. In addition, other solidarity groups promote collective occupations too.

The reason for the expansion of this phenomenon is clear: more and more Spanish families are in extreme situation after eviction. The occupations also serve to put pressure on government and banks when negotiating for solutions. The main objective of these negotiations is, to achieve cancellation of the debt owed to the bank once families had left the house.

The strength of the group: Self-Management Laboratories

For many leftist sectors, occupied blocks transcend beyond the mere pursuit of achieving a cell ceiling and a floor. According to them, in the blocks is taking place an unprecedented social experiment: the buildings are laboratories of self-management for housing.

Sabadell is one of the Catalan cities where activists have more experience, with 3 occupied buildings. Each week, block incoming requests are decided in PAH's assembly. The resident families are informed that it means also responsibilities with the social project the block. Residents are Spanish, Africans, Gypsies, South-American ... very different families with similar problems.

Then, while the housing system in Spain continues between collapse and hibernation, the period of mass evictions is being followed by one of alternatives. Civil society has moved ahead of institutions, and is no longer awaiting a response from them: now is time to take the initiative.


Also by Joan Alvado —


Cuba, Seeds of Autonomy

By Joan Alvado — SEEDS OF AUTONOMY Ecologic Agriculture towards Food Sovereignity in Cuba. After the failure of the Soviet..

Kurdish Women: Inside, Outside

By Joan Alvado / Diyarbakir — KURDISH WOMEN: INSIDE, OUTSIDE The conquest of public space. In addition to the known struggle of the..

The Defenders

By Joan Alvado / Barcelona — 1714-2014: THE DEFENDERS 2014 was the date that Catalan nationalism designated to held an independence..

The Last Days of Sulukule

By Joan Alvado — THE LAST DAYS OF SULUKULE 2007-2011 Located in the center of Istanbul, in the district of Fatih, Sulukule..

Shepherds 2.0

By Joan Alvado / Aguiró — SCHOOL OF SHEPH ERDS The office of pastor is constantly shown and perceived by us as something nostalgic,..

Corpses of Cement

By Joan Alvado — CORPSES OF CEMENT When Urban Developers Ruled the Earth. Apocaliptic landscape after the end of the housing..
Join us
For more access