Juan Luis Marín assures that the ‘squatting’ of houses in the Barrio Nuevo, in The lagoon, is a “sinviver”. This problem originated 15 years ago and, since then, the neighbors live with a certain fear that they sneak into their houses when they are away. “A simple noise at night in a room or on the roof makes us nervous,” she says, before recalling the case of a woman “who went to buy at the supermarket and when she came back she found a family inside.”
The National Police, by order of the Government sub-delegation, has established an operation to “try to keep the problem that way, because the solution lies in the Justice studying each case according to what the law says,” says Marín, who chairs the Association Neighborhood New Neighborhood-Viña Nava. The close contact between the City Council of La Laguna, the National Police and the neighborhood group has prevented the ‘squatting’ of more homes, although, today “there are about 25 and a three-story building, with more than 15 people inside, in this situation”.
The president of the association indicates that they have detected three profiles of ‘squatters’ in the area. “Over the years, we have seen that there are families that have needs, because they have lost their jobs or because they have nowhere to go. We help them in what we can and transfer their cases to the area of Social Welfare of the City Council“, he maintains.
The problem comes when a person accesses a home, following a kind of ideological model; that is, “simply because they like that way of living, they see an empty house and go inside”. Likewise, in the last year, the neighbors have warned of the presence of a new profile, formed by “a series of people from other countries, mainly of North African origin, who access these homes with a lot of violence.”
Many residents of Barrio Nuevo refer to the aforementioned three-story building as the ‘hotel squat’. The property is located on Calle el Drago and is occupied by about 15 people. “It is abandoned by its owners because it is affected by aluminosis. Each floor, according to what they tell us from the National Police, has a leader who charges for rooms”, says Juan Luis Marín.
The head of the group points out that episodes of violence often occur in this building, an added problem that annoys the residents of the nearby streets. And it is that, according to Marín, living with them is complicated because “they are very conflictive. I myself have had problems with them and they have offered me police protection, but I have refused it because of the support I receive”.
Nervousness has increased in the last six on the streets, because there are “too many” attempts to get into empty houses. It should be noted that most of the houses in the neighborhood only have one floor, they do not have much height and, in addition, there are many that are together, being able to move from one roof to another with great ease. “There is a special group of the Police that tries to contain this type of subjects, who finally dedicate themselves to kicking doors and windows to access them.”
For their part, the neighbors who can afford it resort to setting alarms and, in most cases, installing iron bars on the windows to try to dissuade those who want to occupy their home.
The president of the Barrio Nuevo-Viña Nava Neighborhood Association highlights the involvement of the Local Police, the National Police and the City Council with the problem, since meetings are held and information obtained is shared with those affected on a regular basis. As he details it, the collective is aware that the only thing they can do is continue fighting so that no more ‘squats’ occur. “They tell us that they can go up to a certain point, and then the Justice and the law that we have today makes the process to kick a squatter out of a home too long, in most cases.”