70 pensioners told to quit home in 27 days

SEVENTY pensioners living at a retirement home in Benalmadena have been told they have until the end of the month to leave. The Marymar home for the elderly located on the Benalmadena Costa seafront will close on May 31 for necessary reforms, according to an April 8 letter sent to residents by owners Unicaja Obra Social (UOS).

Benalmadena Mayor Enrique Moya claims the company has not presented a project for the restoration, nor have they requested building permits. 

So far only eight of the 70 pensioners have reportedly found an alternative place to live. UOS told those affected that on May 31 any remaining residents will be relocated to one of the other three homes it owns.

However, the closest is in Ronda some 100 kilometres away, with the other two being Jaen (230 km away) and Ciudad Real (300 km), according to its website.

Their only other option is to go to private homes where they would have to pay almost double the €1,200 they pay at Marymar.

“We do not know what to do and the director has not said anything to us,” said Marymar resident, Alfredo Merino, aged 77.

“They have no right to throw us out at such short notice. I have no idea where I can go.” Alfredo says he will stay there until the end.

“The police will have to kick me out,” he said.

A wheel-chair Dutch resident complained: “They are treating us like sh*t. They want to close and throw us out on the street. They are just giving excuses to get us out. I cannot understand how this is being allowed.”

Relatives are also complaining about the distance, if they are sent to Ronda, or to Jaen, which is the other option offered by Unicaja, where only residents who aren’t disabled will be accepted.

Meanwhile, Marymar director, Fernando Muñagorri, has been inviting directors of other homes to the centre to show them pamphlets and give talks, according to Sonia Martinez, whose 86-year-old father is a resident at the home.

“There is a big table in the foyer with pamphlets for other residential homes, but they are either too far away or too expensive,” confirms resident Alfredo Merino.

Sonia Martinez said UOS shut down a residential home in Gador in Almeria last year for similar reasons and that is “remains closed with nothing being done to it.”

The lawyer representing the residents, Silvia Arena, says that the closure is unjustified and is contemplating suing them for failing to keep the terms of the contract they have with the residents.

The 4,000m2 building was built in the mid-60s on the beach front but according to the mayor of Benalmadena, Enrique Moya, it was restored just a few years ago.

He has promised to mediate between the two parties so a solution can be reached.

Resident, Jose del Rio, aged 66 said with a tear in his eye: “It is all a lie! Television stations have come here and people to take photos, but none of them have been allowed inside. It is because there is nothing wrong with the building. I plan to stay here until the end. On a pension, where else can we afford that is close by?”

The pensioners held a protest on Monday with their relatives and say they plan to do so every Monday to demand the home remain open until at least the end of the year so they have more time to find an alternative.

By Jennifer Leighfield and Nicole Hallett

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