Tuesday, April 14, 2009



Easter action against selling-out of social housing

On Sunday 12th April 2009 three apartments located in Commelinstraat in Amsterdam were occupied. Even though those apartments have been renovated, the owner, the housing corporation “De Key”, has not managed to sell them. As a result, they have been left empty for one and a half years. The demand of the squatters is that De Key makes these apartments again available as social housing.

The high price De Key are demanding for the apartments (on average €273.600 for an average size of 66m2) explains why they haven’t been sold. For us - students, employees, volunteers, unemployed, Dutch, foreigners, world citizens - all struggling to find a decent and affordable place to live, it is now justified to take them into use. By doing so we simultaneously take a stand against a phenomenon that is spreading in the local area and more generally in Amsterdam and other European cities. This well-known phenomenon is gentrification (expressed more popularly as ‘yuppification’), the deliberate attempt by economic and political powers to “clean up” whole districts.

The process of gentrification has developed a familiar pattern: renovations are carried out in a neighborhood and new apartments are built, causing prices to increase. Poorer people move out and make place for people that are financially better off; banks feed this vicious cycle by financing ever-higher mortgages. This phenomenon tears down the social fabric and cohesion of neighborhoods and turns lively working-class, popular districts into soul-less, dull residential areas. Gentrification affects especially poorer populations, already the hardest-hit victims of the current economic crisis.

By occupying these apartments we are saying that we have had enough and that we hope to put a halt, at least temporarily, to this damaging phenomenon that is also evident in the Dappermarkt area.

But today is not only about striking back at the gentrification affecting the area. It's also, and just as importantly, about enjoying a liberty we may very well soon lose; defending a right under threat. More than ever before, the Dutch government wants to make squatting illegal. A law to forbid squatting will be presented and discussed in the House of Commons (Tweede Kamer) before the summer. If it passes through the House of Commons, the House of Representatives (Eerste Kamer) will have to vote as well. In the worst case, if both Houses agree, squatting will be illegal by January 2010.

Because a freedom we don't use is a freedom we lose, and because of all the other reasons listed above, we are now occupying three appartments on Commelinstraat.

Squatting group Amsterdam East

More information: www.kraakpetitie.nl & www.witboekkraken.nl

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