he Caritas church charity in Majorca is blaming property speculation for adding to the island's poverty. Many tenants are unable pay rents being demanded and are becoming squatters in order to have somewhere to live.
The charity's director, Margalida Maria Riutort, describes the increase in the cost of property as "savage". She says that the lack of affordable housing is one of the charity's biggest concerns. Last year, there were up to 800 cases of Caritas having provided financial aid for rent payments.
Rents that might be affordable in winter - 400 or 500 euros a month - can shoot up to as much as 1,200 euros in summer, a price that is impossible for many people, given what they earn.
Riutort was speaking on Thursday at the presentation of the charity's annual report for 2016. She acknowledged that there are more jobs but that a great deal of them are "precarious". In some instances, people have three to four jobs in order to make ends meet. She quoted the words of Pope Francis in denouncing the "disgrace" of a society in which the rich get ever richer and the poor get poorer.
In 2016, Caritas attended to 7,885 people, which was 17% lower than in 2015. Riutort explained that there is a "feminisation" of poverty, with 61% of those who they assisted having been women. The current economic situation is helping men to get into the labour market more than it is women.
Looking ahead, Caritas is working on creating a business for job placement. Riutort said that the charity hopes to have this up and running this year. The general administrator, Sebastiana Santmartí, explained that the charity's total revenue for 2016 was up by 8.5% to 3.4 million euros. Two-thirds of this came from its own activities, with public revenue having decreased in 2016. The charity employs 75 people and draws on almost 1,000 volunteers.
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