Housing Action Now was proud to host the Irish launch of the English translation of ‘Mortgaged Lives’ by Ada Colau and Adrià Alemany, in association with the Platforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca
(PAH – Platform for People Affected by Mortgages). The PAH is the organisation behind Spain’s anti-eviction movement, and has successfully resisted over 1000 evictions since it was founded in Barcelona in 2009. They campaign around three demands:
- The cancellation of mortgage debt upon handover of the property to the bank.
- The immediate halting of all evictions where it is the family home and sole residence.
- The transformation of empty houses held by financial institutions into social housing.
Ireland and Spain experienced the most extreme housing bubbles in the 2000’s, and both countries had similar construction-related collapses that ruined their respective banking systems after 2008. The legacies in both countries are countrysides littered with ghost estates, half-finished construction projects, and huge levels of private debt holding homes down with mortgages, that with collapse in property values of over 50%; they would be unlikely to ever be able to repay.
In both countries, taxpayers were further obliged to take on the burden of recapitalizing the very banks that funneled unregulated international finance capital into unsustainable construction booms.
Since its formation it has spread across Spain, and its greatest strength is its ability to grow. What defines PAH is its open organisation structure, and the cases of the people it helps are addressed in collective assemblies. PAH sees its first goal as the empowerment of people who feel helpless and dejected, and it was a wave of eviction-related suicides that prompted the formation of PAH in the first place. The open assembly is also the secret to its growth, since the sharing of experience allows tools and knowledge to be socialised. Anyone can set up their own local PAH platform as long as they accept the PAH memo of understanding; that it’s nonviolent, that all the guidance and resources must be free, and that it is politically independent & non-partisan.
‘Mortgaged Lives’ is a first-hand account of the context that lead to the formation of the PAH, as well as being a how-to guide for citizens movements based on experience, and backed up with detailed figures and graphs.An English language creative-commons copy of ‘Mortgaged Lives’ can be downloaded here: