Squatting: the urban space as a common good

London_squatters_outside_the_Mayfair“Housing is a need, not a privilege”, “Housing for people, not for profit”. Banners with slogans like these hang from windows in any number of European cities. Across Europe, increasing social inequality is making some urban spaces inaccessible to those who used to inhabit them. Gentrification, corporatization and so-called “urban regeneration” projects are leading to the demolition of social and accessible housing, replaced by unaffordable apartments. This leads to the increased eviction and displacement of tenants from their homes and their relocation to the suburbs and peripheries.

Houses, once owned by councils or their occupants, have become investment opportunities for large corporations. With up to 200,000 living spaces intentionally kept vacant in the UK, houses are being stripped of their social value and becoming objects to secure the elites’ wealth. Workers in precarious positions, families, low wage households and students are being displaced or made homeless, while surrounded by vacant properties. [Read More]

Barcelona: How solidarity and mutual aid saved Barcelona’s Can Vies Squat for eviction and destruction

bcn27m_9The Can Vies social centre in Barcelona made headlines around the world when its eviction led to five consecutive nights of rioting in late May 2014. But the social center has a longer history than this.

Can Vies, originally built in 1879 to stock construction materials for the city’s subway, became the headquarters of the anarcho-syndicalist CNT transport union during the 1930s Spanish Revolution. Following Franco’s victory in 1939, the building became the center for a fascist, hierarchal labor union.

In 1997, the building was abandoned by its owners, Barcelona’s transport authority (TMB), and was subsequently squatted by the neighborhood’s youth. Since then, the Centro Social Autogestionado Can Vies has become a well-used and well-loved community space providing a variety of services to the people of Sants, a neighborhood with a strong tradition of cooperatives. [Read More]

Trespass Journal

We are pleased to present issue one of Trespass Journal. Trespass is self-managed, open access, and unfunded. It is multidisciplinary and publishes work in different languages. It is an online journal which also publishes selected works in print.

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Lleida (Catalonia): Squatted Social Centre ‘La Chispa’ Resists Eviction

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After a lengthy legal process against four ex-occupiers the vibrant, active, self-managed SPARK project among the orchards of Lleida is condemned to be evicted in the new year by capitalist speculation

original by Sergi Bertran and Sonia Perez at La Directa. … translated summary by The Free

….We are on the outskirts of Lleida city (in Lleida province). This area has undergone a major change in recent years… where there were small family orchards and country houses today they have built fast food chains, department stores, hotels and luxury villas. The companies and new owners of the land have been moving out the locals, buying up their land at high prices…
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Greece: Criminalizing solidarity. Syriza’s war on the movements

20160729_occupied_syriza_hq_ThessalonikiThe eviction of three occupied refugee shelters in Thessaloniki marks another episode in the Greek government’s war on grassroots solidarity efforts.

In the early morning of July 27, refugee families and supporters who were sleeping at Thessaloniki’s three occupied refugee shelters — Nikis, Orfanotrofeio and Hurriya — were woken up by police in riot gear. In a well-orchestrated police operation, hundreds of people were detained. Most occupants with refugee status were released, while some were transported to military-run refugee reception centers. The rest of the occupants, 74 people of more than a dozen different nationalities, were taken into police custody.

Immediately after Orfanotrofeio was evacuated, bulldozers marched in and demolished the building, an abandoned orphanage “donated” five years ago to the enterprising Greek Orthodox Church by a previous government. Under the rubble were buried tons of clothes, foodstuffs and medicine collected there by grassroots solidarity structures to be distributed to refugee families in need. Hours later, No Border Kitchen, an autonomous structure providing food to refugees in the island of Lesvos, was also forcefully evicted by the police. [Read More]

FROM FREEWAY SHUTDOWNS TO COP-FREE ZONES: a Reportback and a Proposal

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From Ill Will Editions

“[B]eneath the surface of that idea – that truism, black lives matter – is an unsettling challenge. What would it mean to create a world, or at least a space, where that actually was true?” [1]

A Cop-Free Zone in Carbondale 

On Friday night a couple dozen folks converged on the local autonomous infoshop in Carbondale, IL for an illegal dance party in the street. In addition to locals, cars arrived from Bloomington, Chicago, and St. Louis to participate. The plan was to throw an unpermitted street party with free food and loud music, and as things progressed and energy rose, to block off the street and visibly polarize the space against state violence with large handmade banners declaring it a cop-free zone.

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Netherlands: The current housing crisis and the repression of squatting

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The vacancy crunch: The current housing crisis in the Netherlands and the repression of squatting

Recently, an opportunity to discuss the current housing crisis in the Netherlands was wasted. The government published a report evaluating a law realised in October 2010 which both criminalised squatting and suggested a few paltry measures to combat building vacancy (see “From Convicting to Condoning: Evaluation of the Squatting and Vacancy Act” [Dutch]). The report received a few mentions in the media but was accompanied by no real analysis. Whilst the Minister for Safety and Justice writes in a letter to Parliament that “this assessment does not require policy changes,” a careful look at the statistics produced by the report instead indicates that much more could be done (see “Presentation of report evaluating the Squatting and Vacancy Act” [Dutch]). The number of people needing to be housed is increasing, and the best way to solve this problem is to liberate the empty building stock, putting it back into use through both legislative measures and squatting.
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Reutilization of abandoned industrial buildings

Inde_KoperIndustrial archeology

Built structures often outlive their original purpose. In addition to historical buildings such as castles, this also applies to industrial buildings. Abandoned mills, mines, factory halls and warehouses are in most cases doomed to collapse, but sometimes they get saved, refurbished and revived with new content. In Great Britain the evaluation and revitalization of industrial plants started in the fifties, because a lot of the buildings were destroyed during the war. In 1955 the British historian Michael Rix coined the term industrial archeology and the beginnings of revitalization of this architecture date back to this period. Today the Unesco’s list includes a large number of buildings that belong in the category of industrial heritage as evidenced by the agreement on the importance of these historical legacies that bear witness to a time of great social and technological change. However, few qualify as monuments of national importance. [Read More]

UK: 6 reasons to support your local squats

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Squatting has always been a direct solution to housing need, providing homeless people with immediate free housing that they can have some control over. Squatting has changed over the decades, from taking over entire empty streets neglected by councils in the 1970s to now moving into empty business premises before developers manage to tear them down and throw up yuppie flats in their place.

Changes in the law and attitudes (particularly from property owners who are taking a much greater interest in their empty properties these days), as well as the hyper-gentrification of inner-city neighbourhoods have made it much harder to squat at a time when there is greatest housing need. Solidarity with your local squatters is more important than ever. Here are some of the reasons to support your local squat – and the growth of the wider housing movement – and how to get involved:
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Dublin: Better to Squat Than Let Homes Rot

On the merits of Squatting as a tactical response to the permanent housing crisis.

While the government says there is no money to build social housing, they seem to forget the fact that there are over 270,000 vacant houses, flats and apartments scattered around the country, and over 30,000 in Dublin alone. There are over 90,000 people waiting on the social housing list in Ireland – but there is quite an easy answer to the housing crisis, the government doesn’t even need to stretch itself any distance to address. they simply need to introduce a law to legally allow people to squat properties that have been empty for over 6 months, or relax the laws to make it easier to squat. Coupled with a sensible social housing strategy, based around people’s actual needs and not purely profit for landlords, the housing/homeless crisis could be greatly reduced.

No government loan schemes, no sub-standard, gentrified social housing projects, and no need to wait for a new property bubble to develop to finish off the economy altogether. Over one billion a year is provided by the government to create and sustain social housing in Ireland over a two year period. The majority of this is a simple giveaway and effectively a government subsidy to private landlords (including large and small landlords, hotels, hostels and B&Bs), as the money goes straight into the coffers of already property- and capital-rich individuals/companies. It is largely dead money to those homeless or precariously homed people who have no choice but to pay artificially inflated rent for, in many cases, sub-standard and dangerous accommodation. [Read More]

“London 2016: the terrain of struggle in our city” – Aylesbury Estate and some seeds of resistance

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By Some London Foxes.

This is a small contribution towards mapping the terrain of social conflict in London today.

First, it identifies some big themes in how London is being reshaped, looking at: London’s key role as a “global hub” for international finance capital; how this feeds into patterns of power and development in the city; and the effect on the ground in terms of two kinds of “social cleansing” – cleaning out undesirable people, and sanitising the social environment that remains.

Second, it surveys recent resistance and rebellion to this pattern of control including the short-lived “grassroots housing movement” of last winter, the confrontational Aylesbury Estate occupation, anti-raids mini-riots, and some riotous street parties. [Read More]

From Shanghai to San Fran, the rent is too damn high

Fueled by years of record-low interest rates, a new housing crisis is rearing its head from London to L.A. This time, however, it will not go uncontested.

Capitalism is a strange beast. Though incredibly resilient in the face of systemic crises and remarkably adaptive to ever-changing conditions, it never truly overcomes its structural contradictions. As the Marxist geographer David Harvey often points out, it merely displaces them in space and time.

The global financial crisis of 2008-’09 has been no exception in this regard. In fact, the very response to that calamity has already laid the foundations for the next big crisis. And just like its immediate predecessor, it looks like this one will be centered, at least in part, on a massive speculative housing bubble. [Read More]