Evictions in Valencia

01 February 2006

The local daily newspaper El Levante reported on October 12, 2005 that early in the morning of October 11, 2005 around 6.30 AM a large number of local policemen, arrived at the informal Romani settlement in Doctor Walksman Street and evicted nine families with 20 minors from several warehouses and houses, the majority of which were owned privately and a small fraction of which were the property of the city. The policemen remained on-site to guard it for 24 hours a day for 10 days. Most of the families had been living in the settlement for four years and have no permanent employment apart from scrap collection.

According to the Valencia-based non-governmental organisation, Asociacion Gitana de Valencia (AGV), no representative of the municipal authority was present while the forcible evictions were carried out. The police showed the families a document in justification of the evictions, that they could not read, four days before the evictions took place. The affected families have been offered only 13- days temporary shelter or financial assistance for 3-month of rented accommodation. According to AGV the rest were living in tents on the site of their former homes or in nearby parked vans and cars.

One of the affected is Ms Rosa Vargas, a 45-year-old widow looking after 9 children between the ages of 1 and 15 years old, 4 of them of her daughter who is in jail, the youngest one sufering from asthma. Several of the families have applied to the Valencia's Housing Institute (IVVSA), for rented social housing. Ms Jose Garcia told the daily El Levante that she had applied 5 years ago for a rented house but had received no response.

On October 11, 2005, there was unrest when, in protest against the evictions, the desperate families tried to block the traffic of a nearby street, resulting in one of the evicted persons being jailed for 48 hours. He is currently awaiting trial with the local court.

In a letter addressed to AGV the IVSA affirms that the high number of applicants for social houings means that they will probable not be granted housing in the next few months unless a situation of maximum urgency is declared by the local council of Valencia.

(El Levante)


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