Published On: Wed, Jan 17th, 2024

Tenerife in crisis as ‘slum-like’ shanty towns pop up across island | World | News


Tenerife is experiencing a huge homelessness issue as a growing number of shanty towns are popping up around the island much beloved by British tourists.

The housing crisis in Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands, and a risen cost of living have led thousands of people over the past months to illegally occupy private and public land in lieu of a home.

The emergence of these shanty towns is focused in the southern part of the island and particularly in the municipalities of Arona and Adeje.

However, aggregations of precarious tents, campervans and shelters have been spotted also in the north, including in the Santa Cruz area.

José Antonio Díez Dávila, coordinator of Mobile Street Outreach Units (UMAC) at Caritas Diocesana de Tenerife, told Canarian Weekly: “We have been sounding the alarm for years about housing access problems and homelessness in Tenerife, especially in the south.”

The crisis appears to be so deeply rooted in certain areas that it affects also people who aren’t in socially excluded situations, according to the expert.

An analysis carried out by Caritas – a confederation of Catholic relief services – last year suggested that around 2,400 people across the island were living in shanties, substandard housing or other structures such as tents and campervans.

More than 770 homeless people were in 2023 based in the southern municipalities of Arona, Adeje and Grenadilla de Abona.

Many of those reduced to homelessness still have a job, but they can’t afford a home due to lack of living spaces, rent prices and mortgages.

The difficult housing situation of others, Caritas noted, brought them to having to quit their job after they lost their rental.

The ongoing crisis has sparked concerns among players in the tourism industry, who fear the shanty towns will damage the image of Tenerife as a holiday destination, as well as some locals, who are concerned for their safety.

Miguel Villarroya, CEO of Spring Hoteles, said: “We’ve had to carry out evictions on the plots we own in that area. Three out of the five are occupied. I was recently at one, and there was already a community of fifteen to twenty shacks.”

Residents in Puertito de Adeje have reportedly backed the completion of a complex called Cuna del Alma in the hope the development project will help eliminate the shanty towns.

Víctor Martín, spokesperson for the Tenerife Tenants Union, said in December vulnerable families and workers with low and precarious salaries are particularly affected by the crisis, and the only way to survive for them is to “get out of this formal housing market and live in substandard housing”.

This crisis is affecting Tenerife despite its large tourism sector. In 2022 alone, the island welcomed more than five million tourists.

However, the income per capita of the Canary Islands has declined from 98 percent of the Spanish average in 2000 to 72 percent in 2022, suggesting the wealth brought in by the sector doesn’t benefit the society as a whole.



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