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Fundación Secretariado Gitano publishes a Study of the characteristics and circumstances of people living in slum and substandard housing settlements in Spain [editar]

The study shows that 92% of people living in these settlements belong to ethnic or racial minorities, most of them Roma, an indicator of structural racism.

FSG Igualdad y Lucha contra la discriminación

Fundación Secretariado Gitano publishes a Study of the characteristics and circumstances of people living in slum and substandard housing settlements in Spain
  • The appalling living conditions in these settlements, where half of the population are children, represent a serious violation of human rights.

  • Fundación Secretariado Gitano urges the authorities to implement a National Strategy for the eradication of settlements and to facilitate access to decent housing for their inhabitants.

Fundación Secretariado Gitano (FSG) presents a study whose main objective is to provide an accurate diagnosis of the situation of slum and substandard housing settlements in order to measure the situation of vulnerability in which their inhabitants find themselves and to analyse their ethnic and racial composition, with a view to documenting the possible existence of structural discrimination.

Indeed, the study, carried out in collaboration with the ISEAK Foundation and funded by the Ministry of Social Rights and Agenda 2030 under the 0.7 Grants for activities of social interest, yields alarming data regarding the living conditions of these settlements, which implies the violation of various human rights.

The target population of the study are those living in slum and substandard housing settlements  extracted from the Study-Map on housing and the Roma population (2015), isolated from the rest of the population. In total, 26 settlements in 17 Spanish provinces were visited, where 688 surveys were carried out, representing an estimated total population of 23 419 people living in settlements similar to those analysed in the study, distributed among 4 584 slum or substandard housing.

Population profile

With regard to the profile of the population, the study shows that 92% of the people living in these settlements belong to ethnic-racial minorities, with the Roma people predominating (77% of the total), followed by the Arab people (13% of the total). This is indicative of a situation of structural racism.

Another very striking element in relation to the profile of the population of the settlements is the very high percentage of children under 16 years of age, which amounts to 50%, 40% of whom are under 6 years of age.

On the other hand, poverty is a chronic phenomenon in the settlements. Specifically, 93% of people living in the settlements live at risk of poverty, a figure that rises to 99% in the case of child poverty. Despite this, only 35% of people have access to the Minimum Income or other public assistance.

A situation that violates human rights

The study detects that the material conditions of housing are absolutely precarious: cracks, damp, lack of natural light, exposure to pollution, dirt and noise, etc. In terms of basic services, the situation is particularly serious in settlements where slum housing predominate, with 90% of these homes lacking sanitation, 75% lacking running water and 69% of homes lacking electricity.

With regard to the right to education, it is observed that the educational levels of the population in the settlements are much lower than the general population. In this regard, 10% of the population living in settlements over 10 years of age is illiterate (12.2% for women compared to 7.6% for men), while illiteracy is residual in the general population in Spain. On the other hand, only 15.2% of the population in the settlements has achieved compulsory secondary education, while this percentage is 55.7% outside the settlements. Furthermore, there is a high level of school segregation: more than 60% of students in the settlements attend segregated schools.

The right to employment is another right whose exercise is hampered in the context of the settlements. Thus, in the case of the settlements, only 24% of the population has a job, compared to 51% of the general population. There is also a strong gender gap, with only 15% of women having access to employment, compared to 45% of men.

Another important fact is that, contrary to popular belief, the vast majority (91% of those interviewed) say they would accept better housing in other neighbourhoods. However, they are unable to access decent housing alternatives because they cannot pay the rent (three out of four people say they do not have sufficient means) or because they face discrimination in access to housing (25% say that nobody rents them a flat in another neighbourhood).

Isidro Rodríguez, director general of FSG, calls on the competent authorities to address this problem, given its "serious impact on the fundamental rights of people living in settlements and on the values and principles that we defend as a society". It is also a "phenomenon that can be easily tackled due to the scale of the problem", given the volume of population and households affected in a country such as Spain, "one of the largest economic powers in Europe". It also recalls that there are many opportunities for funding, which only requires "political will and coordinated work between the administrations of different countries".

The executive summary of the study also contains a series of proposals with concrete measures for the eradication of this type of settlements, with full respect for fundamental rights, facilitating access to decent housing for all people living in them.

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