The light shines brightly through the windows of a pretty house in the neighborhood of Lagunilla, near the city center in Málaga, in southern Spain. The inside bustles with life. There is a man installing a satellite dish, a plumber fixing a leak, and an architect relaxing after nine months of renovation work.
In the bedrooms, three young men, aged 18 and 19, sweep and scrub the floor. They seem the happiest of all. Nabil, Hassan and Bilal have a home after almost eight months sleeping in the municipal shelter or on the street. “It’s a huge change,” exclaim the elated youths, almost in unison. This is their first day in the house, which was donated to Málaga Acoge, a migrant support association. “That it has this use is fantastic and necessary,” says Francisco Salcedo, one of the old property owners.
Rents in some Malagá neighborhoods have skyrocketed 45% in the last five years
Francisco Salcedo’s family had resided in the house since the early 20th century. In the 1970s, his mother rented it to a married couple who paid monthly until the mother died in 1993. Francisco and his three siblings then decided to stop collecting the rent, which was 50,000 pesetas (around €300). “What would this money, split four ways, do for us when three of us are teachers and I’m an engineer?” asks Salcedo, now retired. This arrangement continued until 2017, when the couple passed away. At that point the siblings made a decision. “We agreed to give it to Málaga Acoge,” says Salcedo. On the same street, there are many tourist apartments, and rent has skyrocketed by as much as 45% in the last five years.
The process by which Nabil, Hassan, Bilal and two others moved into the house was not easy. The architect Ciro de la Torre struggled over the project with masons and renovation companies that didn’t keep their promises. On the other hand, solidarity prevailed. Around 100 people have participated in a micro-donation campaign that has already exceeded €6,000. Businesses, public agencies and social organizations did the rest. Together, they raised the €65,000 necessary for the renovation work and the paperwork. “Now, Málaga Acoge owns a home to support many kids in the future, it’s a huge step,” says Germán Torrecillas, a member of the association.
English version by Nell Snow.