Call for action against evictions in Alexandria city

To the Embassy of the United States

Embassy of Sweden

Embassy of Norway

Embassy of Switzerland

Embassy of Iceland

Embassy of Germany

To the Romanian Government

To the Prefect of Teleorman County

To the Romanian Ombudsman

 

THE CITY HALL OF ALEXANDRIA LEAVES 4 FAMILIES HOMELESS, AFTER EVICTING TENS OF OTHERS AND SEGREGATING THEM OUTSIDE THE CITY

 

CALL FOR ACTION

 

 

The Block for Housing – a national federation of housing rights activist groups based in Bucharest, Timisoara and Cluj – is initiating the present call for action to intervene urgently against the serious violation of the right to housing by the City Hall of Alexandria.

 

The City Hall of Alexandria (Teleorman County, Romania) is currently pressuring four families, i.e. 11 persons, to leave the social building it has already evicted at the end of 2019, without providing any relocation options for them.

In the summer of 2019, the City Hall prepared the relocation of about 130 people out of two buildings of social apartments, called B10 and B11, situated on 1 Mai Street, close to the city centre.

 

The City Hall launched this process in 2017, when it contracted a structural assessment that deemed the buildings unsafe to inhabit. Subsequently, the City Hall managed to secure approximately 1 million Euro from the Government in order to ”Set up temporary special spaces for emergency situations (containers)” on the outskirts of the city, for the relocation of the families and persons living in social housing.

 

65 containers (with one or two rooms) were installed at the periphery of Alexandria for the people whom the municipality intended to evict ”for their own good” – as it was often publicly declared, despite the people’s opposition. The containers are small and have insufficient space compared to the legal and de facto space necessities of the families, and are individually surrounded by tall metal fences.

 

In support of the observations of the Roma rights civic platform #Aresel!, we consider this to be a case of ethnic segregation! Given that a majority of the community is Roma, this situation is aligned with other similar forced evictions and subsequent segregations that have occurred in Romania in the past 20 years – such as the cases in Cluj Napoca, Baia Mare or Eforie.

 

To the pressure made by activists, the City Hall repeatedly responded that this was a temporary ‘solution’, until they would manage to develop proper social housing. However, there is no concrete action, no local council decision, and no planning whatsoever for the construction of social housing to replace the two buildings set for demolition.

Based on the experience of the organizations of the Block for Housing in other cases, we fear that an adequate solution most likely will never appear and the segregated housing will become a permanent situation.

 

We urge all concerned actors to take action in pressuring the local authorities to provide adequate housing for the families moved in containers!

 

Secondly and moreover, some families living in the B10 and B11 social buildings soon realised they were being left out of even this unjust relocation option. These families, at risk of remaining homeless in mid winter, are asking for support!

 

In November 2019, the local authorities started the relocation of people in containers. On the 5th of November, at the request of two of the families, members of the Block for Housing went to Alexandria to accompany them at the City Hall. The Housing Department representatives assured us that no person will be left behind and they will find a solution for everybody. However, in early December, the families still living in the derelict social buildings were officially informed by the City Hall that the only “legal solution” for them is to go to the temporary night shelter, the Emergency Residential Centre of Alexandria.

 

In January 2020, the City Hall officially informed the Block for Housing there are four containers left unoccupied and four families left out. The authorities argued that these families were not contractual tenants in the social buildings and they were living there undocumented, thus they cannot legally move in containers as the rest of their former neighbours.

Through this response, the institutional message is that the local authorities do not care about the future of the people left behind!

 

The Block for Housing is in contact with two of these families. One is formed of two adults and a two-year-old baby; the other is a single woman. Both have applied for social housing years ago. They both live in one of the former social buildings without access to water supply – cut on the 19th of December 2019 by the local authorities, in an attempt to push them out. This actually amounts to a forced eviction and a severe violation of fundamental rights to housing and access to water.

 

The situation of one of the remaining tenants, Ms’ Dorina Strimbu, is particularly dire. She cannot even access the services of the emergency shelter due to her medical condition. Still, the City Hall representatives keep sending her the same standard reply: “Go to the shelter”. Her medical condition impaired her work capacity and she has no possibility to provide for herself. Moreover, she is on probation, being recently released from prison, which makes her, by the Romanian law, a marginalized person towards which the authorities have an obligation to provide basic services, including housing – according to the Law for the prevention of social marginalization.

 

To all those concerned about the violation of human rights by state authorities:

We urge for action and intervention, for the City Hall of Alexandria to respect the fundamental human rights of its citizens, namely:

 

– To respect the right to health, life and housing according to the Romanian Constitution and laws and according to the Human Rights Treaties endorsed by the Romanian Government!

– To immediately stop the harassment and intimidation of the families still living in the former social buildings on 1 Mai Street. They continue to stay there because they have no other place to go!

– To provide swift, adequate and individualized relocation solutions for the remaining families! The emergency shelter does not represent adequate housing!

– To urgently fund and build proper social housing, according to the local needs, which takes into account the risk of spatial segregation and prevents it! Segregated and undersized containers do not represent adequate housing!

 

 

Signed by:

The Block for Housing

The Common Front for the Right to Housing – Bucharest

Social Housing Now – Cluj

Right to the City – Timisoara

E-Romnja – the Association for promoting Roma women’s rights

RomaJust – Roma Lawyers Association

#Aresel! – Roma Rights Civic Platform

European Roma Rights Centre

MozaiQ LGBT

The European Action Coalition for the Right to Housing and the City

Solidarity Action – Neukölln

Irish Housing Network

Right to the City Zagreb

Ort till Ort – Sweden

Droit au Logement – Paris

Habitat – Bruxelles

 

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