Utrecht: Croeselaan squatted. We do not accept temporary rentals!

On the 13th of august around 13:00, 4 houses have been squatted on the Croeselaan in Utrecht (Netherlands) where the municipality decided on destroying a lot of houses to make space for a fancy park and an office building. To do this they let around 12 to 13 houses stand empty for months now. While GroenLinks was part of the organisers of the last Woonprotest in Utrecht they also had the deciding vote for destroying these houses. During the housingprotest the houses were occupied and about an hour later housepeace was declared. A big thank you to the people who came out and supported the new squats!

Statement from Croeselaan squatters on Saturday 19 august 2023: We do not accept temporary rentals!

On Sunday, August 13, four houses on the Croeselaan were squatted. This action was a protest against the vacancy of well-habitable homes at the time of a housing crisis in a municipality where a vacancy order applies. These houses had been vacant for at least six months and, despite promises from the municipality to use them, this was postponed each time. Our action was carried out in consultation with the residents of the surrounding houses. The day after the occupation, the municipality was on the doorstep announcing that the houses would soon be rented.

Initially, we were very skeptical about this announcement, as this is not the first time there have been sudden plans after a squat opening. However, in the last few days, it has become certain that the municipality is telling the truth. With this information, we were willing to discuss in order to arrive together at a satisfactory solution.

Our first attempt was rejected. The municipality did not want to talk to us. After a second email in which we stressed that we are ready to make room for vulnerable people, and preferring to talk about it without political games or media spectacle, a meeting was scheduled for Thursday morning, August 17, between the squatters and the project manager of the Beurskwartier, on behalf of the municipality of Utrecht.

The municipality told us that people in need could move in as of August 17. However, we were aware of a plan by the municipality to fill these four squatted houses with anti-squatters (property guardians) through Ad Hoc, for a period of 28 days. Due to the demolition and sale of social housing, property guardianship becomes the alternative to social housing. People who are entitled to social housing are thus forced to give up their rental rights and live in precarious conditions. We are against these practices. Let’s be very clear: we do not accept temporary rentals.

With this information in hand, we sat in one of the squats. We have announced that we would like to give space to so-called vulnerable groups and that we also want to facilitate the necessary access to allow buildings to be ready for rent. We even proposed to put it in black and white, and to occupy the premises on temporary loan. The conversation seemed productive to us and, with a somewhat positive view of the unlikely cooperation between the municipality and the squatters.

It soon became clear that the municipality could not follow its version of events, and we again received an urgent request from the municipality to vacate the buildings. Our skepticism about the occupation of buildings in precarious conditions by anti-squatters, when we already live here, made us decide not to comply.

In the meantime, the municipality has decided to waste money by taking legal action against us. However, we intend to respect the agreements reached, even if they are not written in black and white. We will clean the properties on September 17th (exactly the end of the 28-day Ad Hoc contract) so that they can be occupied, and we’ll always keep our doors open to allow homes to be habitable.

Because make no mistake: we squatters who need housing are not the worst. We have the “ability” to squat (although not without personal risk). Others can’t afford it. That’s why we make room for those who are in an even more difficult situation than we are.

And then also this: We find the action of the police bizarre. There was no need to act, and the municipality did not support the police action. They were called back at the last minute by the mayor.

We do not understand how, in a municipality where a vacant premises ordinance applies, the municipality itself leaves buildings vacant.

We think it is cowardly of the municipality to use exiled people for a political game, to get us out of these houses. During the discussion, we asked the municipality how the exiled people ended up in the media, to which no clear answer was given. The use of vulnerable groups for political and media purposes is not acceptable. Shame on the municipality of Utrecht!

We are pleased that after this action, work has been accelerated to fill the vacant homes on the Croeselaan, although we regret that these are mainly precarious housing situations.

We regret that Algemeen Dagblad claims that we cannot be reached for comment, even though our email address and the telephone number of our spokesperson are known. We also regret the title used by the Algemeen Dagblad: “The squatters had until 9:00 am on Friday morning to leave voluntarily. The officials had had discussions on this subject which, according to the city of Utrecht, took place “in a good atmosphere”. The deadline passed without the squatters leaving the houses.” We have done our best to reach a solid agreement.

We distance ourselves from all the racist comments that came in response to the Pownews video on youtube. Natives first? No, the most vulnerable people first!

And finally:

We squat against vacancy, we squat as a solution. We support housing for vulnerable groups and we will not oppose it, but anti-squats and temporary renting is not a solution and we do not make room for it. That’s why we say: Vulnerable people are welcome, not temporary housing!

Some squats in the Netherlands: https://radar.squat.net/en/groups/country/NL/squated/squat
Groups (social centers, collectives, squats) in the Netherlands: https://radar.squat.net/en/groups/country/NL
Events in the Netherlands: https://radar.squat.net/en/events/country/NL