Moments before Ameia Egana, aged 53, was to be evicted from her fourth floor apartment, she clambered over the balcony railing and jumped to her death. Police at the scene said she died on impact. It is the second suicide in Spain in a matter of weeks; a man facing eviction in Grenada was found hanging in his home. A local judge called to the scene said the law on evictions must be changed. Al Jazeera's Peter Sharp reports.
On Monday, Spanish Economy Minister Luis de Guindos promised that no needy family will go homeless over mortgage arrears, responding to public fury over Egana's suicide as she was being evicted.
Facing accusations that politicians and banks are complicit in de facto "murder", Spain's banking association said its members would suspend eviction orders for two years for those borrowers worst hit by economic crisis and record unemployment.
Banks have repossessed close to 400,000 homes in Spain since a property bubble burst in 2008 and the nation subsequently sank into recession, throwing millions out of work and unable to keep up mortgage payments to the banks.
Nearly one million homes now sit vacant in Spain. A citizens' movement called "Stop Evictions" asked the banks earlier this year to forgive mortgage debt for properties worth less than 200,000 euros, and where all family members are unemployed. Currently under Spanish law, even when borrowers turn their home over to the banks, they must still pay the entire amount of the mortgage.
Police unions have agreed to support officers who refuse to participate in eviction proceedings. But until government finalizes reforms to eviction laws, there are those who will still face eviction and homelessness. Meanwhile, the banks are set to receive part of an up to 100 billion euro European bailout to offset their financial hardships as so many are unable to pay their mortgage debts.