Amsterdam: Eerste Oosteparkstraat becomes another chapter in the gentrification of the city

201610_Eerste_Oosterparkstraat_114_116_AmsterdamOn the 22nd of September, the residents of Eerste Oosterparkstraat 88-126 were evicted from their homes. Construction work has started to demolish the buildings. It will be replaced by a new block of houses and businesses. We have lived here for three years in a squatted house and we have decided to speak up about what is going on.

The first step to gentrifying the neighborhood begins by evicting and demolishing existing homes and building new, often ugly block houses. House rents will increase and the neighborhood will fill up with rich yuppies. The original inhabitants will be forced to leave their homes and move out of town. The plans to renovate the neighborhood for profit forces people out of Amsterdam. This is social cleansing designed to eliminate social and cultural diversity, and further impoverish the low-wage workers, the unemployed, the homeless.

Owner of these houses is Stadgenoot, a public housing corporation. This corporation owns 40.000 houses, office spaces, storage spaces and garages. It is known for contributing to the nationwide decimation of affordable housing and tenant rights. They bypass tenant rights by using all kinds of flexible temporary contracts, anti-squat, temporary leases and campus contracts thereby by circumventing rent control, while at the same time decreasing the number of houses that used to be social rent. Stadgenoot has publicly spoken out against squatting which doesn’t surprise us. The same company that constructed a building famous for its controversial “poor door”. There are two entrances, one for the poor which live on the lower floors and another for the rich living on the top floors. The bottom line is that Stadgenoot is putting a price and taking over the control of something as essential as shelter. Anyone that doesn’t fit in a privileged social strata ends up on the street, including many families. People become the victims of evictions and compulsory relocations forcing them to live nomadic lives and leave the city.

According to their plans, construction will go on until mid-2018. This will disrupt the lives of pedestrians and residents alike. Should people be exposed to a construction site’s noise pollution all day for the next two years? All this for a neighborhood they won’t be able to afford to live in.

This project is not environmentally friendly (regardless of their propaganda). Seventy trees from our back yard will be cut down. This neighborhood is already dominated by asphalt, concrete and steel. Additionally cutting the trees will also displace and likely kill the bat population. They will watch their homes be destroyed—the trees and areas around them. Bats, are a protected species and cutting down the trees for new expensive housing and a supermarket is not worth it.

One of the new buildings will be corporate supermarket Albert Hein. We detest Ahold, their corporate overlords, for their horrible business practices, the exploitative wages (which only get worse the younger the workers are), their security harassments, their awful products, and high prices. Today the neighborhood is a multicultural community; however, this infusion of corporate aesthetics will change it’s character, replacing it with a depressing landscape full of uniformity, cameras and control.

We are not intimidated by the government’s tactics. After we received our eviction notice from the state prosecutor, a private security van was deployed in front of our door, to surveil and patrol our street and our back yard. Police have also been dispatched to harass our neighbors during a party by forcing everyone off the street. Most recently the police came banging on our door. They tried to trick us into letting them in our house. They verbally threatened us while leaving disappointed for not getting what they wanted. Now a depressing image of fences has taken over in front of the windows, we know it’s only gonna get worse.

We do more than just defend a comfortable home, we are fighting for upholding the right of residence.
By reclaiming space captured by authority,
by reclaiming the time lost in wage slavery,
we reclaim our lives.
Fuck nations, Squat the world!

Squatters of Eerste Oosterparkstraat 114-116