Brussels: eviction of a squat of 7 undocumented people by the municipality of Ixelles without alternative housing

This Thursday, April 6 at 9am, the municipality of Ixelles evicted a squat of 7 undocumented people, applying an inhabitability order dating from October 2022, without any rehousing solution at the end. The squat located at 20 rue Élise had opened at the end of September 2022, in a building empty since 2017.

They are all ex-hunger strikers of the ULB (2021). This group of people had then lived (with other people) in a building in the See U thanks to a temporary occupancy agreement. But they were expelled at the end of September. So they sought refuge in this empty house. The irony is that they regularly work in the construction sector and have not yet won their fight to obtain papers:

A., evicted resident: “I work hard to survive: I renovate houses for a pittance! However, I cannot find decent housing myself and I am forced to squat so as not to sleep outside or be abused by malicious landlords.”

The inhabitability order had been produced hastily directly after a first visit of the housing, something surprising because usually, the municipality gives the inhabitants time to do work before issuing this type of decision. Following the support organized around the inhabitants, the eviction was postponed to carry out some work to secure the electrical installation.

Meanwhile, negotiations have begun with the building manager, whose owner had died in 2017. But they failed because of the too short time (between 2 and 4 months) proposed for a temporary occupancy agreement. The manager, who wanted to sell the building empty of its occupants without bothering with the costs of an eviction procedure, then pressured the municipality to apply its inhabitability order.

The electricity was certainly not up to standard (as in all occupations and squats in Brussels), but the work that had been done had brought an acceptable level of safety. The main problem was that the inhabitability order had already been produced… and that if the slightest incident occurred, the criminal responsibility of the mayor was at stake.

A relocation proposal had been made in mid-December by the municipality, but it was not adapted to the size of the group: a housing of 80m² (for 8 people at the time). Today, no suitable alternative housing solution has been formulated. However, the mayor has an obligation of means to rehouse people when he applies an inhabitability order.

About fifteen people were present to support the inhabitants and denounce this eviction, which is clearly the result of a dysfunction within the municipality of Ixelles. A banner, slogans to challenge the neighbors… And some confetti and ironic applause for the impressive device deployed for the occasion: dozens of police officers equipped to intervene, accompanied by the prevention service and workers of the commune, responsible for condemning the door. The inhabitants stayed a few minutes on the sidewalk before leaving loaded with their few bags.

Ana, member of the Anti-Eviction Front: “An eviction without relocation is always a failure! There are evictions every day, our society organizes them very carefully, but they take place in silence. To denounce them is to contribute to making them unacceptable. We hope that one day our society will reject this practice of humiliating and inhumane evictions.” The collective also sounds the alarm on the housing crisis in Brussels and says that the city risks experiencing a growing rate of evictions: “Rent amounts are reaching record highs, more and more people can no longer make ends meet. If there are more and more unpaid rents, it is because they are not affordable!”

Anti-Eviction Front (Front anti-expulsions)
Brussels, Belgium
info [at] stopexpulsions [dot] be

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