17 Jul 2013 23:00
When I started this project I set out to show a hidden side of life Italy today, a side out of the media glare. This is the story about the families of migrants facing the crisis with unemployment, high costs of life, and the precarious situation of losing the basic right to housing.
Technically, it's called “arrearage innocent”: it consists in people being evicted because with their scarce income they are unable to pay the rent. In 2013 in Italy 250.000 families risk this to happen to them, that's an average of 140 evictions a day, almost 6 each hour. In the following years this phenomenon could even be more widespread due to the abolition of public support (“Fondo sostegno affitto nazionale”), which has been helping more than 350.000 families pay their rents.
The families with many members are the most vulnerable, families of up to 6 often live in a 40 square metre apartment with little or no means to apply to public housing to relocate.
The Mauhay family is from Philippines. Arnold, Mardy and their children Adrian, Alessa and Angel, were living in a house in the north of Milan. Arnold and Mardy are from the Philippines but living in Italy for 10 years, Arnold worked as a warehouseman for an important Italian brand and Mardy is a domestic worker. They say that working hours have decreased, while expenditure increases, in particular weigh children's school and the canteen.
The building was very badly maintained, the stairs had no lights and the dangerous electric wiring affected their house. After their eviction they are living in a hotel with the support of the municipality. While they are waiting for the "Aler" (private entity for the management of public housing) to define their position, the municipality of Milan will take over the temporary accommodation in hotel for Mardy and his sons, but Arnold will have to pay for his stay until the final assignment. They are waiting for many months the allocation of public housing.
Kumara and Mary are from Sri Lanka. They as many others, victims of the illegal rent black market. As they are undocumented migrants it is impossible for them to register without permits for a housing contract. It is estimated that in Italy between 500 thousand and one million apartments are rented in black, resulting in a high tax evasion. For legal immigrants, in fact, the registration of the lease is required to obtain residence and renewal of the residence permit. When Kumara and Mary tried to ask to the house owner to give them a proper lease he increase the rent. They were unable to pay and soon after received an eviction notification. Now Kumara is living in his car, and Mary is hosted in a protection housing with their son, Nathaka.
During the realization I've built a close relation with several families. In the beginning I tried to follow their stories from the notification to the eviction, but when the police and the legal officer avoid me to take photos during these moments, I had focus my attention on other aspects of their stories, like details that could reveal the dramatic experience they were experiencing.
After the eviction, in fact, some families went to hosting structures, another part moved to hotels with the support of the municipality, while many others had no other choice but to sleep on the streets while they wait for a public social house (which they are entitled to). The municipality pays for a hotel accommodation only when the evicted families ask for an emergency procedure. If their request is judged positively, then they receive a temporary accommodation before of their housing project apartment.
While social emergency demands increase rapidly, just in the city of Milan 5.000 public houses remain empty, waiting to be surveyed and put in condition to be inhabited.