Tag Archives: squatting movements

The City is for All: “We are not asking for free housing” (Budapest)

avarosmindenkie.blog.hu

On the 19 January 2013, homeless activists and their allies squatted an empty building in the seventh district of Budapest. The squatters demanded the institutionalization of a right to housing and an extensive system of social housing instead of punitive measures and overcrowded shelters. The activists were arrested and now face misdemeanor charges because of disobeying police instructions.

“We do not leave until the government and local authorities take seriously mass homelessness and housing poverty,” said Jenő Keresztes, one of the homeless squatters. “We are here to raise awareness about the tens of thousands of empty buildings, where homeless people could find their home. The majority of these empty buildings are in private hands, but local authorities also have great responsibility in leaving buildings such as this one unused for years. Instead of taking care of them, they leave them to dilapidate. This building alone could serve as a home for at least 10 families,” said Jutka Lakatosné, another homeless activist.

The squatters were supported by dozens of young activists forming a living chain at the entrance of the building as well as an ever-growing group of protesters on the other side of the street. The supporters were chanting slogans such as “Housing, not jails” and “Right to housing for all!” The head of the local authority’s real estate office agency visited the house and told the protestors that the local authority has no responsibility whatsoever either for homelessness or the abandonment of the house. Five hours later the police arrived in great numbers and arrested one by one the activists blocking the entrance of the building. The activists did not cooperate and therefore were carried by police to police cars. The supporting protesters first chanted “We are with you” right near the activists. Later, the police pushed them back where they could not see the arrests anymore, but they stayed until the last one of the activists was taken away from the location and supported them with loud drumming and chanting.

foglalás1_1.jpg“I do not have housing worthy of human dignity either, I am just temporarily allowed to stay in an otherwise empty building which does not have heating. Nonetheless I do not fight for myself alone: we would like everyone to have access to decent, affordable and healthy housing, and we want the government and the local authorities to take responsibility for this,” said László Dombovári, a homeless activist. In Hungary there are currently millions of people suffering from various forms of housing poverty. Ten thousand of them are living in the public spaces or shelters of Budapest. Around half a million families have arrears that threaten their housing, and every fifth household gets behind with their mortgage payments due to lack of resources.

The City is for All supports the demands of the homeless activists. We have organized several marches to raise awareness about empty buildings and demand their utilizationspelled out our related policy recommendations, and protested for the codification of a right to housing and the establishment of an extensive system of social housing. According to The City is for All, the implementation of a right to housing should include a ban on evictions without the provision of acceptable housing alternatives as well as housing policies that ensure access to decent housing for everyone. Right to housing would not mean the provision of free housing by the state, but that the state establishes and maintains a system of housing policies that ensure fair access to housing for all members of the society.

Editor’s Note. Thanks to the Reclaiming Spaces mailing list for the heads-up. The blog post above has been very slightly edited to make it more readable.

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Occupy London: The Bank of Ideas

http://occupylsx.org/?p=1229

Occupy London ‘repossesses’ multi-million pound bank offices

– First building for the economic justice campaigners as they occupy third space in borough of Hackney, alongside existing spaces in the City of London and borough of Islington
– New ‘Bank of Ideas’ open to public this Saturday. Offices and meeting rooms will be available for those that have lost their nurseries, community centres and youth clubs due to savage Government spending cuts

Occupy London has taken over a huge abandoned office block in the borough of Hackney belonging to the investment bank UBS in a move it describes as a ‘public repossession.’ [1]

Overnight on Thursday, a dozen activists from the Occupy London, campaigners for social and economic justice as part of the global fight for real democracy, gained access to the building and secured it, giving them a legal claim on the space.

The multimillion pound complex, which has been empty for several years, is the group’s third space and its first building, adding to its two camps at St Paul’s Courtyard – near the London Stock Exchange in the heart of the City – and at Finsbury Square (borough of Islington).

Occupy London supporters Jack Holburn said: “Whilst over 9,000 families were kicked out of their homes in the last three months for failing to keep up mortgage payments – mostly due to the recession caused by the banks – UBS and others financial giants are sitting on massive abandoned properties.

“As banks repossess families’ homes, empty bank property needs to be repossessed by the public. Yesterday we learned that the Government has failed to create public value out of banking failure. We can do better. We hope this is the first in a wave of ‘public repossessions’ of property belonging to the companies that crashed the global economy.”

The Bank of Ideas
The group say the space will be reopened on Saturday morning as the ‘Bank of Ideas.’ [2] An events programme is being lined up, including talks from Palestinian activists, comedy from Josie Long and a session led by trader Alessio Rastani, who sent shockwaves through the media following a provocative interview on the Eurozone crisis. [3]

Sarah Layler of Occupy London added: “The Bank of Ideas will host a full events programme where people will be able to trade in creativity rather than cash. We will also make space available for those that have lost their nurseries, community centres and youth clubs to savage Government spending cuts.”

The Bank of Ideas is a non-residential occupation – so visitors are asked not to bring their sleeping bags. Space will be free from drugs and alcohol from the start, as per Occupy London’s safer space policy.[4]

Notes

[1] The complex is owned by Sun Street Properties Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of UBS. The property includes 5-29 Sun Street, 5-17 Crown Place, 8-16 Earl Street and 54 Wilson Street. See dl.dropbox.com/u/136370/bankofideas/ubs…http://dl.dropbox.com/u/136370/bankofideas/shoreditch-ubs.PDFdl.dropbox.com/u/136370/bankofideas/pla…http://dl.dropbox.com/u/136370/bankofideas/os-map.pdf and dl.dropbox.com/u/136370/bankofideas/lan…

[2] www.bankofideas.org.uk

[3] www.youtube.com/watch?v=aC19fEqR5bA

[4] occupylsx.org/?page_id=1214

[5] UBS Bank, which describes itself as a ‘premier global financial services firm offering wealth management, investment banking, asset management and business banking services’ was the subject of a $60bn bailout from the Swiss government in 2008 after piling up the biggest losses of any European lender from the global credit crisis. Since the time, the bank has cut thousands of jobs.

In September, a 31-year old trader at UBS was arrested by City of London police in connection with rogue trading that has cost the bank an estimated $2bn. The New York Times wrote an article in response called ‘At UBS, It’s the Culture That’s Rogue’ (see www.nytimes.com/2011/09/24/business/glo…? pagewanted=all)

The Financial Mail ran the headline ‘UBS grabs £1bn from pensioners’ with reference to a controversial form of secured lending that was sold aggressively to pensioners (seedl.dropbox.com/u/136370/bankofideas/ubs….)

The bank has nine offices in the UK including three in London.

A recent report showed a total of 9,200 homes in the UK were repossessed by banks in the third quarter of the year, a rise on the previous three months (see www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-15672123). Figures are expected to deteriorate further.

[6] Nearest tubes for the Occupy London Stock Exchange (OccupyLSX) site are St. Pauls, Mansion House and Canon Street; buses 4, 11, 15, 23, 25, 26, 100, 242; do check Transport For London website for delays and closures. The new Bank of Ideas is just down the road from the Occupy London Finsbury Square (OccupyLFS) space, which is near Moorgate; buses 141, 153, 205, 21, 214, 43

[7] On Sunday 16th October at an assembly of over 500 people on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral, Occupy London collectively agreed the initial statement below. Please note, like all forms of direct democracy, the statement will always be a work in progress. Details at occupylsx.org/?page_id=575

[8] Bringing together a diverse range of people, Occupy London’s Stock Exchange, Finsbury Square (OccupyLFS) and Bank of Ideas are part of more than 30 occupations happening in towns and cities across the UK and over 1,000 actions worldwide coming together under the banner of “United For Global Change” calling for true democracy. Occupy London is supported by groups including UK Uncut, the London-based Assembly of the Spanish 15M movement and many others. It has already received phenomenal interest, from the public and media in the UK and around the world, with the OccupyLSX facebook group now more than 31,000 members.

[9] More information on UK occupations at www.occupybritain.co.uk/protest-details

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Solidarity Appeal from Brunnenstraße 183 (Berlin)

Despite the common misconception that Berlin has a thriving squatting community, Brunnenstraße 183 is the last open squat left in the city, and so the only house project in Berlin where no rent is paid. 183 has been squatted since 1992, but has been seriously facing eviction since the eviction date scheduled June 18th 2009. In the first weeks of June the old artist collective moved out, thereby avoiding confrontation with police. For the past 17 years there have been various collectives, mostly artists. However, as of June a new collective has started, consisting of anarchists, autonomes, punks, artists, travellers, feminists, legalisers, libertarians and radicals willing to build barracades and protect the house from eviction. This new group changed the agenda and concept of the house, establishing it as a radical anarchist and anticapitalist house-project.

Since June, we have started a weekly bike workshop, set up a house library, maintained the free shop and bar (Ballast der Republik), continued vokü twice a week and put on regular concerts and workshops. We also now have a practice space for local bands.

We have found alternatives to most costs in the house, for example: disposing of trash ourselves and composting, receiving dumpstered food from an autonomous group 3 times a week, we heat the house with scrap wood and try to pay other bills from donations and what we make doing concerts and the bar. However, due to outstanding debts from the old collective and new legal bills, we have fallen behind on our water bill and currently owe in the region of €2000s. We have had our water cut off several times in the last months, which is not only fucked up in the day-to-day running of the house, but puts the whole squat in massive jeopardy due to a German law squats without running water for 48hrs deemed “unsanitary” and therefore eligible for something similar to a “direct reposession order” in the UK.

On these grounds we call for solidarity in the form of soliconcerts or donations. Seriously, anything helps and all feedback appreciated. Email us for soli-account info and more information etc.

Dominik

tartan.handbag(at)gmail.com

&
Moli

mkirsch56(at)yahoo.com

from the Brunnenstraße 183
Wir Bleiben Alle!

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Take Back the Land!

[We would like to thank Comrade V. for alerting us to the work of these wonderful activists.]


Miami New Times
Squatters
Don’t cry. Just move into one of those empty homes around the corner.
By Natalie O’Neill
November 20, 2008

Her knee-length dreadlocks wrapped in a green cloth, Cassy hoists her two-year-old daughter up on a hip and shuffles in her socks into her big, clean bedroom. “This house is a castle,” says the slender, soft-skinned former university teaching assistant, shaking her head in disbelief. “I’ve never had a walk-in closet … and all this space.”

Two months ago, Cassy (not her real name) was homeless, out in the rain with her four kids. Now she has a three-bedroom, two-bathroom, sky-blue house on a tree-lined street in Miami’s Buena Vista neighborhood. She takes warm showers, cooks vegan dinners, and watches the news on a small, fuzzy TV screen. The only catch: The house isn’t hers. Cassy is a squatter and, at any moment, could be arrested for trespassing, even burglary.

Not everybody in Miami-Dade County is crying over this year’s 40,342 foreclosed properties. Cassy is part of a small, well-executed movement by activists at Take Back the Land to relocate homeless families into empty houses and abandoned government-owned buildings.

(Read the rest of this article here.)

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