London: Squatting, Evictions, and the Coronavirus

Some days after granting a 3-month breather for mortgage payments the government caved to pressure and stated that renters who fail to pay rent will be protected from eviction during the next 3 months. This meant very little to squatters, and as explained later, still means very little to renters.

The Pie ‘n’ Mash Autonomous Cafe was evicted the morning of that same announcement, the same day that the cafe (having closed for safety reasons some days earlier) was to become London’s first Mutual Aid Centre, to complement the anarchist-instigated and autonomously-organised Mutual Aid groups that had sprung up around the city, and now the country. The council (who without a doubt had a hand in effecting the eviction of the Pie ‘n’ Mash) announced the very next day their own initiative of a centre to assist Mutual Aid groups in distribution of needed goods, co-opting the idea to suit their own agenda and save face in the eyes of the public.

Things have not gotten better for squatters by any means in the following days. Multiple evictions have taken place on buildings that have been awaiting bailiffs for weeks, seemingly a rush by owners and bailiff companies to do business in the case that the government prevents them from doing so in the future. [Read More]

London: Living in the cracks. How housing has fallen into crisis

The causes of the housing crisis are, in a nutshell, the unchecked power of landlords, the 40-year attack on social housing and stagnant wages. The consequences are people sleeping in tents and doorways and under bridges, children in A&E with constant chest infections, poverty, debt, mental distress, and endless moving.

One of the major causes of the housing crisis is the undermining and running down of social housing. Since the introduction of Right to Buy in 1980, 1.5 million council houses have been sold, 40% of which are now rented out by private landlords. Alongside Right to Buy there has been a campaign of slurs by media and politicians against people in social housing, with other people encouraged to despise or resent them for the high rent other tenants pay.

As well as Right to Buy, many councils are knocking down large estates and redeveloping the land as high-density private housing, often purchased as an investment not a home. Tenants are usually rehoused locally but there is a loss of social housing in the area which increases the length of the waiting list. On many council bidding pages now the number of flats on offer is in the single figures, while 1.1 million households are on waiting lists. [Read More]

Berlin: Renters organize to expropriate the mega-landlords

Berlin’s spatial dynamics and organized working class show how to secure liveable spaces and combat the financial nature of housing: socialize them.

Over the last few decades, housing in cities around the world has undergone unprecedented financialization and artificial speculation. Investors have never been richer. The worldwide value of the current real estate market is $217 trillion, 36 times worth the value of all the gold ever mined.

Profits from the commodification of the housing market have skyrocketed in step with the enclosure of spaces and the fixing of financial value to them. Living spaces are now complex financial products that can be packaged up into investment funds and swapped by companies across the world. [Read More]

Precarious housing in the Czech Republic

kuncovka_brno_czech_republicKuncovka, an apartment complex 10 minutes by tram from the centre of Brno, the 2nd city of the Czech Republic with a prosperous centre. A five year old girl is walking her “dog”, a broken DVD-player, on the field at the front door. The power cord serves as the leash. Inside a group of 15 sits in a 18m2 room, the largest room of the apartment. In between the meeting children play with cardboard boxes, no toy in sight. 4 chairs, 2 small tables and a mattress are all the furniture there is. Coffee and tea is made in the bathroom, there is no kitchen.

Julek is our host. He lives in 1 of the 48 apartments in the complex. He tells us the dilapidated apartments of 30m2, without kitchen, are rented out for 10500 crowns (roughly 400 euro) a month. Last winter the owner refused to turn on the heating. He wanted to make an even higher profit. He often extorts the tenants by switching off the electricity. For 750 crowns (30 euro) he puts the electricity back on for a day.

The tenants lack regular rent contracts. There are monthly contracts which are tacitly renewed by the owner, even though these are illegal according to the Czech law. If you criticize the owner, the extortion, or the atrocious state of the building, your contract won’t be renewed. When the owner has a bad mood he refuses to give a payment receipt for the rent, which causes you to lose your housing benefits. [Read More]

Saving Midtown: San Francisco Renters on Strike

This is the story of the Midtown rent strike, the largest rent strike in San Francisco since 1978.
by Global Uprisings http://www.globaluprisings.org/midtown/

Amsterdam: Kolenkit is not for sale!

20160205_BPW_Kolenkit_niet_te_koop_The Kolenkitbuurt’s struggle is part of a broader struggle which is the claim for right to the city for people. Since the Kolenkit’s neighborhood was decided to be turned into transformations with renew urban projects, such as the Koelkit project, we decided to organize the struggle hand in hand with inhabitants.

Indeed, Rochdale has the plan to renovate and sell 4 buildings in which people with 5 different types of temporary contracts are currently living. This Koel Kit project will force these temporary tenants to leave, and replaced by others, given that the 154 housing accomodations are gonna be more expensive, sold and privatised.
Therefore we went to Rochdale on the 4th of January in order to claim our requests:
1. Stop sell out of these rental houses
2. Make temporary homes indefinite homes
3. No evictions without replacement housing [Read More]