An inevitable eviction: when living among rats and humidity is the least bad thing

At nightfall, the rat roams freely in the courtyard of this first floor. “He eats everything from aluminum foil to shoes,” says Rachid El Yagoubi, 50, with his wife, Fatima Maknassi, 30. The woman shows the video recorded on the phone the day before. The animal is seen so calm, almost like another tenant, under the clothesline and next to the children’s bicycles. This six-member family has lived together since 2014, in addition to rodents, with dampness, leaks and straits in a 40-square-meter house in the Madrid district of Puente de Vallecas. Cáritas, citing Madrid Salud, already made reference in 2018 to the poor habitability conditions and structural problems of the house. In spite of everything, El Yagoubi, his wife and their four children cannot find another rental alternative. What’s more, soon it may until they miss living in these conditions. This Friday, after several court rulings against, they have to leave definitively because they have not renewed the rental contract for four years.

Little Amir dozes on his mother’s chest, oblivious to the hustle and bustle of papers, suitcases, bundles and an entire existence bogged down around him. The child turns one month old the same day they leave this apartment in the Entrevías neighborhood. The parent has already rented a storage room in which to put all the belongings. That is the sure sign that they reluctantly agree to leave the house. In 2017, the three-year rental contract ended and the owner, a limited company based in Pamplona, ​​communicated its decision not to renew it. EL PAÍS has contacted her in case they wanted to contribute their version. According to El Yagoubi, they wanted to raise the monthly rent from 400 to 750 euros. His strategy of continuing to pay those 400 euros all this time without signing a new rent has been of no use to him. Fernando Abad, the public defender who defends the tenant, acknowledges that he has tried to delay his departure as much as possible. It also says that it is legal, once the contract has expired, to raise the rent.

“We are not facing a case of abuse or neglect, but of poverty due to the overload of housing”

A judicial commission already went to the apartment on April 21 to try to get the family out. That same day, the mother’s waters broke and Amir came into the world. They were given one more month. That is why this Friday, May 21, at 9:30 in the morning, the commission will return with the police officers. Everything indicates that there will be no new extension. “Get all your furniture and belongings off the floor,” the note reads. Meanwhile, the smallest room serves as a storage room and the main room accommodates the whole family. It is a camp, there is nowhere to step between the mattresses on the floor, the double bed and the crib.

The Yagoubi is temporarily hired for six months as a night watchman and has just received the first payroll. These revenues, although temporary, make it difficult to receive public aid. These days he has to work at the Vallecas book fair, where his other three children, ages 10, 6 and 3, are also in school. The main concern of the parents is that they can finish in the best conditions what they have left of the course and the routine medical follow-up to little Amir.

El Yagoubi, who has a degree in Biology with his degree approved in Spain, spends the day talking on the phone with each other. From the San Carlos Borromeo parish to anti-eviction activists. Try to find a solution that does not arrive. The family even traveled at the initiative of Cáritas to do a job interview in a La Mancha town to apply for a job as a bricklayer, but he admits he lacks experience. Faced with the possibility of a withdrawal from the custody of minors, Carmela del Moral, head of childhood policies at Save the Children, insists that “we are not dealing with a case of abuse or neglect, but of poverty due to the overload it entails. housing ”for the family economy.

Rachid El Yagoubi at the entrance to the room where the six members of the family sleepLuis de Vega

Sources from the social area of ​​the Madrid City Council assure that they have been aware of the case for at least two years and that they have followed it through the Residential Emergency Advice Service (Saer). This Friday, when it is time to leave the apartment, they will send a team from the Samur Social to El Yagoubi’s house. They will try to slow the launch and, if that is not possible, they will try to offer you an emergency remedy.

Outside the extension of the Government

The family has been under the umbrella of a Save The Children’s care program for vulnerable people for two and a half years. This humanitarian organization asks that they not be forced to leave the house, especially because minors would be left homeless and because they did not have alternative housing. In this sense, they demand coordination between the courts and social services. “Home is the place where childhood feels protected. An eviction means a huge break in the life trajectories of the children who suffer it and may end up developing depressive disorders”Says Carmela del Moral.

The Provivienda association, which is also in contact with the family, is surprised that they cannot access an alternative rental. He is also struck by the fact that they are not under the protection of the extension decreed until August by the Government of Pedro Sánchez to avoid evictions of vulnerable people during the pandemic. In a last October report, this association details that in many cases foreigners are required to rent greater guarantees and documentation or abusive clauses and prices. El Yagoubi, convinced that he cannot find a home because he is Moroccan, says that there are “pirate companies” on websites like Thousand Ads that try to deceive those who are looking for a rental home.

He is willing to settle in the car if necessary, but asks for a solution, at least, for his wife and children. “In Social Services there are shelters for cases of gender violence. What do they want, me to kill my wife or rape her so that they can get a home? ”Asks Rachid El Yagoubi in despair.

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