Spain promises to spare needy from eviction after suicides
By Nigel Davies
MADRID (Reuters) - Spanish Economy Minister Luis de Guindos promised on Monday that no needy family will go homeless over mortgage arrears, responding to public fury at a homeowner's suicide as she was being evicted.
Facing accusations that politicians and banks are complicit in de facto "murder", Spain's banking association said its members would suspend eviction orders for two years for those borrowers worst hit by economic crisis and record unemployment.
Banks have repossessed close to 400,000 homes in Spain since a property bubble burst in 2008 and the nation subsequently sank into recession, throwing millions out of work and unable to keep up mortgage payments to the banks.
Last Friday's suicide of 53-year-old Amaia Egana has inflamed a public already angered by what they see as a lack of compassion among Spanish banks, many of which have benefited from taxpayer-funded bailouts organized by the political elite.
Egana, a former Socialist councilor in northern Spain, jumped to her death from her fourth-floor flat as bailiffs were trying to evict her under foreclosure laws.
Speaking in Brussels, de Guindos said action was vital to avoid evictions at a time when huge numbers of homes, built during a frenetic property boom before 2008, lie unoccupied.
"In Spain right now, we have nearly a million empty housing units. In this situation, the government and the economy ministry ... has to take steps so that no family in good faith goes without a home. This is our commitment," he said.
Public pressure prompted Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to call for officials from his conservative People's Party and the opposition Socialists to speed up negotiations on reforming the eviction laws during talks on Monday. Continued...