The Eviction Season Has Begun

If during the pandemic the evictions were interrupted, bureaucrats and justice officials worked hard so that, as soon as they were allowed, they could evict people from their homes. In Timisoara, Romania, two forced evictions threw dozens of people into the streets as soon as the restriction on evictions was lifted.

On May 15, immediately after the end of the state of emergency, 6 families were evacuated from a building located in the area of Traian Square. Shortly after the purchase of the building, the new owners forced tenants to leave their homes within just one day, despite having lived there for 10 years. The eviction was carried out by the local police, without having the necessary judicial decision. The evacuees had no alternative, even though amongst them there were children and elderly.                           

And on June 12, at 6:00 am, in the Torontalului neighborhood, also in Timisoara, a community of about 10 people was violently evicted. People were given no alternative or support; they were simply thrown out on the street. The 11 police cars were intimidating and threatening, destroying tenants’ shelters.

The Torontalului community has lived there for 4 years. After the land was privatized, their situation became fragile and they could have been thrown out at any time. During the pandemic, threats and insults were directed at them, people being put in a position to find an alternative on their own, at a time when it was impossible to go out on the streets.

Images before and after the destruction of the community neighborhood in Torontalului

#StopEvictions

#DOTimisoara

#solidarity

MEMORANDUM: Decent Minimum Income and Adequate Social Housing for the Most Affected People

MEMORANDUM for
The President of Romania
The Government of Romania
The Ministry of Labour and Social Protection
The Ministry of Regional Development and Public Administration
The Ministry of European Funds

The Current Epidemiological Crisis Is Also a Social and Housing Crisis Emergency: We Demand Decent Minimum Income and Adequate Social Housing for the Most Affected People

In the context of the Covid-19 epidemic and the economic crisis that continues to worsen from one day to another, at the initiative of the Bloc for Housing, 53 organizations and over 100 persons with experience in fighting for social solidarity and providing support for vulnerable groups are calling on you with a series of appeals regarding the need to provide everyone’s effective access to the constitutional rights of decent living.

 

Continue reading MEMORANDUM: Decent Minimum Income and Adequate Social Housing for the Most Affected People

Manifesto for Housing Justice: Fighting the Pandemic of Capitalism and Racism

#stayhome #notstayingaside

The time has come for this political agenda to change radically: housing politics must satisfy the needs of the people and respect the right to housing as a universal right!

The time has come for the rich to pay for everything that they stole through workforce exploitation, real estate speculation, and the theft of the government’s resources to the disfavour of the many.

This is our manifesto:

Continue reading Manifesto for Housing Justice: Fighting the Pandemic of Capitalism and Racism

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!