Preserving Homeownership Through the Power of the Collective: Lessons for Barcelona

Document Type


Publication Date

January 2015


The gathering space was cramped and crowded with anxious people nervously waiting to speak and tell of their heartbreak. Stories of unemployment, delinquent mortgage payments and pending evictions. A group of us, academics, policy makers, attorneys and housing developers, filed into the room jostling to find an empty space to stand witness to their heartache. The meeting had no leader, nor any prepared agenda. It was a regular gathering of current and former homeowners suffering the same indignity of foreclosure and the awfulness of feeling helpless to prevent it. The informality of the gathering and the unscripted sharing of experiences are a part of the strength of these meetings organized by the Platform for People Affected by Mortgages (“PAH”), a growing social movement in the Catalan region of Spain to provide greater rights to homeowners suffering through foreclosure. This article provides a brief comparative analysis of Spanish and American foreclosure laws while evaluating the power of the collective and its ability to effect social and legal change.