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

 

Action against Labour Exploitation and Housing Deprivation

Our most recent project, titled “The Block for Housing – Action against Labour Exploitation and Housing Deprivation” was carried out with the support of Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, between February and November 2019.
Read here the presentation of the project and the summary of the militant research we organized in its frame.

The main argument of the research: there is a growing need for an Alliance for labour and housing rights!

Continue reading Action against Labour Exploitation and Housing Deprivation

Financial actors taking our homes

In the frame of our alliance with the European Action Coalition for the Right to Housing and the City, we published this booklet about how different financial actors (banks, investment banks, hedge funds, credit institutions etc.) are profiting from evictions, from people losing their homes, from rising housing costs and from our basic need for a home. This process is called “financialization of housing” and our booklet aims to represent an introduction to it. It is based on the experience of the different activist groups and housing movements part of the European Action Coalition for the Right to Housing and the City, who oppose the financialization of housing in their cities.

Read here the booklet

THE BRICK (CĂRĂMIDA). MAGAZINE FOR HOUSING JUSTICE 5-8.

Căși sociale ACUM/! Social housing NOW!
Fragments from issues # 5-8 (October 2018 – June 2019)

The Brick is the medium through which we contribute to increase the political movement for housing justice in the city of Cluj, and beyond. Brick-by-brick, we build mutual knowledge; trust in our own forces and solidarity that strengthens us. Brick-by-brick, we are aware of the real causes of the housing crisis, the consequences of which are suffered by the workers, both the poor working class and the precarious middle class. Through The Brick, we can fight for a fair and anti-racist housing policy, as well as against the transformation of the city into a source of profit for developers and large real estate owners. Let’s build the movement together!

Contents of the whole issue:
We mobilize for public social housing
Red Vienna: municipal socialism
Social homes in France, a model under threat?
Let’s take back the social control on homes. Lessons from Germany
Outsourcing the projects for social housing: the case of Torino, Italy
The lack of social housing transforms Barcelona into a city marked bu housing crises
Are you in one of these situations? Then you must be interested in social housing
We mobilize for public social housing – action on the 26th of October 2018

THE BRICK (CĂRĂMIDA). MAGAZINE FOR HOUSING JUSTICE 1-4.

Căși sociale ACUM/! Social housing NOW!
Fragments from issues # 1-4 (October 2017 – May 2018)

The Brick is the medium through which we contribute to increase the political movement for housing justice in the city of Cluj, and beyond. Brick-by-brick, we build mutual knowledge; trust in our own forces and solidarity that strengthens us. Brick-by-brick, we are aware of the real causes of the housing crisis, the consequences of which are suffered by the workers, both the poor working class and the precarious middle class. Through The Brick, we can fight for a fair and anti-racist housing policy, as well as against the transformation of the city into a source of profit for developers and large real estate owners. Let’s build the movement together!

Contents of the whole issue:
Public housing: response to housing crisis
They should consider us humans too!
What is an activist architect?
December 17th – Day Against Eviction
“The Manifesto from Cluj against evictions everywhere”
Let’s evaporate!?
About rentiers and the need of tenants to organize
Visit to the Subjective Museum of Housing
How did housing become a commodity?
Racism at home
Inhabitants of Cluj living in informal housing: the walls of poverty on Mesterul Manole Street. Stop forced evictions
Fight against environmental racism – through legal action
Labor, capital and housing
A woman’s labor
A First Step towards Legality
Eviction is the foundation of urban regeneration – Abator Square, Cluj

Stop the new Amendments to the Law on Enforcement and Security

To His Excellency Ambassador of Serbia in Romania, Branko BRANKOVIĆ

In memory of Ljubica Staji, who recently committed suicide rather than being evicted from her home.

We, the Block for Housing in Romania, express our concern regarding the recent legislative developments in the Republic of Serbia, that would further enable illegitimate evictions without housing relocation, enforcement without court trials and auctions of homes, as well as the oppression of solidarity movements for housing rights, as described here: http://www.masina.rs/eng/no-one-without-home-protest-giving-authorisations-private-enforcement-officers/

Ms. Leilani Farha – Special United Nations Rapporteur on adequate housing – lists the UN international human rights provisions covering the right to adequate housing here: https://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Housing/Pages/InternationalStandards.aspx

As the Republic of Serbia has signed international UN treaties that guarantee the right to housing for all and no eviction without housing relocation, we make a request for public information on the following questions:
1. How are the UN provisions regarding the right to adequate housing respected and put into practice by Serbian public authorities?
2. How does the Republic of Serbia respect the human right to a just trial for each person – also meaning no enforcement without court trials?
3. How do the local and national authorities support solidarity movements for housing rights?

In solidarity with people threatened by evictions, we ask you to use every means available in order to oppose the adoption of the proposed amendments to the Law on Enforcement and Security that will worsen the right to housing for the people of Serbia.

Looking forward to your answer,
The Block for Housing
The Block is a descentralized network of organizations which fight to the empowerment and political organization of communities against housing injustice

European Manifesto for Public Housing

We, members of European Action Coalition for the Right to Housing and the City affirm: housing is a human right, not a commodity!
But in capitalism, housing became a commodity and a financial asset. International institutions claim that the current housing crises should be solved by the market and by more deregulation in the domain of housing. Neoliberal policies insist that public money should be invested in the production of housing by the private sector. But real estate developments make high profits for the investors and banks, and don’t serve people’s housing needs.
Thus, we demand: Public money for public housing – Public housing from public money!

CALL UPON CANDIDATES RUNNING FOR THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT: Public social housing! Priority of the European Parliament Agenda for 2019-2023

SUPPORT THE ADOPTION OF A EUROPEAN HOUSING STRATEGY THAT ALLOWS FOR AND ALSO REQUIRES THAT MEMBER STATES

  • REGULATE REAL ESTATE BUSINESS FOR THE BENEFIT OF PUBLIC GOOD,
  • SUPPORT THE PRODUCTION OF PUBLIC SOCIAL HOUSING AND OTHER TYPES OF NOT-FOR-PROFIT HOUSING,

IN ORDER TO ENSURE UNIVERSAL ACCESS TO ADEQUATE HOUSING IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT TO HOUSING

download our call upon candidates and future decision makers

#Allforprofit: The negative impact of World Bank involvement in the politics of housing in Romania

#Allforprofit: The negative impact of World Bank involvement in the politics of housing in Romania

Position paper of the Block for Housing (Blocul pentru Locuire)

I. The Block for Housing is critical towards the 2018 edition of the Bucharest “Housing Forum” and the housing policy proposals presented there.

II. The WB contribution to privatization, commodification and housing precariousness in post-socialist Romania

III. Main shortcomings of the WB Forum Proposal

IV. The perspective of the Block for Housing on the need for public housing

Continue reading #Allforprofit: The negative impact of World Bank involvement in the politics of housing in Romania

Transformations of housing provision in Romania: Organizations of subtle violence

by Ioana Florea and Mihail Dumitriu

originally published in LeftEast

This article is based on empirical data and is a small part of an ongoing research project on housing struggles and transformations in housing policies in Romania. We look at these transformations within the wider historical and economic context, outlining some of the links between privatization and austerity measures, individualization and privatization of housing provision, and the role of NGOs as subtle facilitators of such (often violent) processes.

Waves of housing policy in the context of “transition”

In Romania, as in other ECE countries, “the implementation of housing reform became one of the first acts” of the post-89 governments, with “privatization, deregulation, and cuts in state funding” as its main principles (Stanilov 2007, p. 177). Scholars of post-socialism have shown that these policies were cemented by the influence of international financial institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF overseeing the entire “transition” process (Pichler-Milanovic, 2001, apud Stanilov 2007, p. 176). In 1990, 30% of the housing stock was state owned (Vincze, 2017) – including buildings constructed during socialism (especially blocks of flats) but also buildings nationalized in the 1950s from the richer strata (especially villas, mansions, and small apartment blocks). After 1990, the housing reform followed three main paths:

  1. The rapid and continuous sale of the state owned stock, which today stands at less than two percent of the country’s housing stock.
  2. The deregulation and persisting lack of regulations with regard to urban development, working as a form of support for the private real-estate sector. In the mid 2000s, the retreating state informally shifted the responsibility for drafting urban regulations to the private sector (a process sometimes legitimized as participatory working group practice). This opened new legal doors for private accumulation through dispossession.
  3. Re-privatization through restitutions (to former pre-1950 owners, their heirs, or their legal rights-buyers) of the nationalized housing stock, at first through financial compensation (for inhabited buildings) and in-kind (for unused buildings), and then through in-kind complete restitutions of buildings (despite the fact the state tenants were still living there and no relocation solution was envisaged).

Continue reading Transformations of housing provision in Romania: Organizations of subtle violence