Rotterdam: Call to occupy Tweebosbuurt!

Tweebosbuurt is a neighborhood in the Afrikaanderwijk district, which is mostly inhabited by descendants of migrants from North-Africa, and situated in the South of Rotterdam, nearby the city center. There are four blocks of small buildings surrounding public parks and gardens. This disctrict has been gentrified for years already, mostly due to the highly increasing rent in the rest of Rotterdam which is leading students and white yuppies to settle in, and then to reclaim pacification of one of the last alive neighborhood of the city.

The city council has decided to take this issue seriously. The next step for the gentrification of Afrikaanderwijk is the demolition of the totality of Tweebosbuurt. We’re speaking here about 600 houses and shops, almost 25 000m2. 535 of these are ruled by Vestia, a private social renter which is mandated by the city council of Rotterdam to make this giant “social plan” a reality. Vestia is paid 24M euros only for the eviction itself, not including the price of the demolition and reconstruction.

The 599 houses and shops which are to be demolished will be replaced by 374 new houses. 137 of them would be social house renting; 101 private house renting; 143 private housing. The rental agreements will be broken in 1st of January, 2020, and the demolition of the neighborhood is planned for April 2020. All the rents are going to increase, and the only alternative offered to the people is to make a new apply for social housing, somewhere else…

They didn’t see the resistance of the inhabitants coming. Since the project was announced in the summer of 2018, a local protest has been organized. 60 inhabitants unsuccessfully brought their case to court, and organized a lot of protests, bringing the future of Tweebosstraat to the attention of the whole country, even succeeding in obtaining international support, including UN support. Obviously the municipality has remained unmoved by the opposition and the eviction process continue. For now we can safely assume that at least one hundred houses are already vacant.

As the deadline approaches, the opposition hardens: the residents remove the anti-squat plates with a iron cutter to deposit them in front of the offices of Vestia, and open the doors of their buildings to squatters in the hope of slowing down the evictions by multiplying the lawsuits. As a result, it is extremely simple to settle here. The neighbors spontaneously help to chase Vestia employees from squats and offer their help for openings that take place during the day. They are also in contact with local medias to try to make each action public. An auto-media is currently under construction.

The police remains mostly passive during the squat openings. They’re even sometimes “helpful” (don’t forget that acab) chasing the Vestia’s employees when they try to break in the squats or threatens residents. No one here, neither Vestia nor the police, seems to expect any substantial resistance. Their sufficiency and contempt could lead them to their loss, slow down or even stop the demolition. An entire district could be reclaimed by squatting it.

In one of the largest metropolises in Europe, this can only be helpful. The existence of a place like this could be highly relevant during the organization of the UDT2020 counter-summit projects (which brings together arms manufacturers from around the world at the end of May in Rotterdam) or the next Shell Must Fall (taking place in mid-May in occasion of Shell’s annual general meeting 30km from Rotterdam).

Here we dream of seeing all the former shops turn into collective places, of being hundreds refusing to pay for housing, of tearing down the fences separating the gardens to turn them into them parks or fields, we sometimes even find ourselves dreaming of barricades and burning demolition trucks. This place seems to offer such an opportunity. The occupation of Tweebosbuurt may become a new front line against capitalism and gentrification in Europe, but for that we need more allies. We’re currently looking for people to come and settle here. If we will manage to grow in numbers, then we could build a serious counter power here.

Here is a call to anyone who wants to get involved against one of the most aggressive forms of gentrification; to try and prevent the imminent demolition of hundreds of buildings, to inhabit them with those who still refuse to leave; in a working class suburb of several tens of thousand square meters where hundreds of houses are already empty. It is also an emergency call: the deadline is in the upcoming months, perhaps even in the upcoming weeks.

You only get one shot do not miss your chance to blow,
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime don’t let it go

See you soon.

Contact: squat-vestia [at] riseup [dot] net
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On 18 january 2018 published on the Tweebosbuurt blog: