Spain’s economic crisis turns middle-class families into illegal squatters

TERRASSA, Spain — Ana Valderrama and Tony Cortes do not look like squatters.

The suburban apartment they’ve illegally occupied since December is free of clutter. Its stone floors shine while two poster-sized pictures of daughters Jennifer, seven, and Ariadna, 11, hang on gleaming white walls.

Twelve months ago, life was very different.

Valderrama, 36, and Cortes, 38, had both been out of work for more than two years. Unable to maintain payments on their 102,000-euro (around $128,000 at today’s exchange rates) mortgage, the couple lost their home in this commuter town about 12 miles north of Barcelona.

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About fbrinleybruton

F. Brinley Bruton has been a journalist for 15, and worked in Kabul, Mexico City, Philadelphia, and New York City. Now based in London, she is a editor, producer and senior writer at NBCNews.com, a leader in breaking news and original journalism online that gets over a billion page views a month. Before joining MSNBC.com -- which became NBCNews.com in 2012 -- Brinley wrote about security, business and finance, international development and women’s issues. She has worked at Reuters in London and New York, and her pieces have appeared in the New Statesman, The Guardian, Los Angeles Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Long Island Newsday, The Star-Ledger, and Arabies Trends, among others. She also wrote and blogged for AlertNet, Reuters’ humanitarian news website.
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