Part of the problem is that mortgage laws in Spain are particularly harsh. People unable to make payments who are evicted still remain liable to repay huge amounts because the value of their home or apartment has plunged during the crisis. Banks either sell the homes for much less than the original mortgage value or can't unload them, so the mortgage holders end up either owing the difference or paying back the whole loan. Their wages can be attached by the banks.
By comparison, most people in the United States who default give up their devalued homes to the banks and file for personal bankruptcy. That leaves their credit ruined but without continuing mortgage debt.
The Spanish government move "is a step forward, but we have to change the system and start all over," said Miguel Ordonez, a member of the Platform for Mortgage Victims who gathered Thursday with dozens of other activists in Barcelona to protest a planned eviction. Those who have their homes taken "still have their debt forever, and they can't start over in this economy. They can't find work, if they do, the bank takes a cut."
A judge at the last minute temporarily halted the eviction of unemployed construction worker Benedict Obi and his wife, Perpetua, from their small apartment but the Obis did not know whether the government measures approved hours later would apply to them or not."''It is not that I don't want to pay," Obi said. "I want to pay because I have a family, I have two children (I am) taking care of. I want to work to pay but I couldn't." At another Barcelona eviction protest Thursday, single mother Cynthia Odigie got the news that her apartment would be repossessed but the bank that gave her the mortgage would let her rent a nearby apartment for â¿¬200 monthly so she would not be put out on the street with her son, her sister and her sister's two children. The sisters can only afford the apartment because they get â¿¬426 each in monthly welfare payments for those whose unemployment benefits have expired.