Real estate agencies are refusing to rent properties to refugees and migrants in Basque Country, northern Spain, the SOS Racismo association has said in a report. It added that there had been at least about 30 cases of discrimination in Victoria. In Bilbao, a group of Moroccan women has taken part in a protest against “humiliation and for the right to decent housing.”
Women wearing chadors or niqabs are refused housing
“When a woman comes who is wearing a chador or a niqab, she is told immediately that there are no homes available, or that the owners do not rent to foreigners,” the NGO’s report states. It includes statements from several Moroccan women who have been forced to search.
A few dozen women have taken part in a protest in Bilbao’s Plaza Circular called by the Ahizpatasuna (‘Fraternity Among Women’) association, which brings together mostly Moroccan women migrants.
“We suffer double: as women and as migrants,” they said in a statement. “Many of us have children who are in turn discriminated against or treated as second-class citizens, even though they were born here in the Basque Country.”
Even phone calls with real estate agencies lead to “discriminatory treatment as soon as they hear a foreign accent,” they added. “When they see that we are Moroccan, they say that they cannot rent anything to us,” Ahizpatasuna chief, Afaf Elhaloui, was quoted by Publico as saying.
Hundreds of real estate agencies tested
SOS Racismo has documented discrimination in access to housing by those working in the real estate sector across the country. This data is based on ‘testing’ that has been carried out on 462 agencies in eight autonomous communities: Andalusia, Aragon, Asturie, Catalogna, Galicia, Madrid, Navarra and the Basque Country. Migrants from sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa, South America and Spaniards took part.
“The results were clear: 86.7 percent of those who were refused rentals has a migrant background,” said SOS Racismo’s national spokesman, Mikel Mazkiaran. “Differences were seen in the treatment received, as well as the requirements for renting, such as salary, endorsements, contracts, and so on,” he added.
Refugees also face discrimination
Discrimination affects refugees in Basque Country as well, despite the fact that they are included in integration programs sponsored by state institutions.
“The state agencies that work on these programs call the real estate agencies, offering to act as guarantors for these people for the home rentals, but even in these cases they are refused,” said the SOS Racismo spokesperson.
At least 30 refusals to rent housing to refugees in the city of Victoria have been documented by the Eraberean network, supported by the Basque government “to fight against discrimination based on race, ethnicity or nationality, or on the basis of sexual orientation or identity as well as gender.”
Several NGOs take part in the network. But according to Mazkiaran, “the number could be much higher if the same test were to be conducted in other parts of the Basque Country.”