Organizing for Housing Justice during the Covid-19 pandemic

A report by organizations from 18 countries in Europe

This is a press release by the Europea Action Coalition for the Right to Housing and to the City.Β 

The European Action Coalition for the Right to Housing and to the City (EAC) is launching its report: πŽπ‘π†π€ππˆπ™πˆππ† π…πŽπ‘ π‡πŽπ”π’πˆππ† π‰π”π’π“πˆπ‚π„ 𝐈𝐍 π“πˆπŒπ„π’ πŽπ… 𝐓𝐇𝐄 π‚πŽπ•πˆπƒ-πŸπŸ— ππ€ππƒπ„πŒπˆπ‚. A collectively written overview, the document covers tactics employed by housing movements from 18 different national contexts in Europe during the first part of the pandemic (March-July 2020), detailing how they have positioned themselves in regards to the legislative measures adopted by the state.

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Housing activism in March-July 2020

The period of March to July of 2020 has seen the rise of the health, social and financial crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Social movements across the globe have organized in a swift and powerful response with campaigns, mutual aid networks and direct action. Housing movements on all continents have been integral to this. In fact, these past six months have meant a radicalization and growth of housing movements given how housing and the right to the city are intimately affected by the current crisis. We consider this to be a momentum for housing activists as networks across the world grew stronger and have advanced more international solidarity and organizing.

For the past five months, the EAC’s member groups engaged in dozens of campaigns and mobilizations while also building up transnational solidarity and international action in the face of the current crises. This report looks at how the health, social and financial crisis ignited by the COVID-19 pandemic have affected housing conditions and the organizing for housing rights in the first period of the pandemic. While not being an exhaustive overview, this document reflects a great deal of both the abuses of power, worsening of housing conditions and the resistance organized by housing justice movements across the continent.Β 

So far, the Covid-19 pandemic has undeniably affected many fundamental areas of life, from health to work and housing, and will continue to have an impact in the following months and even years. As part of the movement for housing justice in Europe, the EAC has extensively consulted with its member organizations, grassroots movements from different cities and countries to have their input on the measures adopted in their national and local contexts, how they mobilized and what concerns they have for the future.

The European Action Coalition for the Right to Housing and to the City has members in almost all of the European countries. It still doesn’t have a member from Bulgaria (source: Housingnotprofit.org)

Our Report

The report launched this week by the European Action Coalition for the Right to Housing and to the City is based on information collected from 22 of the grassroots movements within the Coalition by way of survey or from their public platforms.

The EAC report will enable you to:

– See how housing organizations have organized in times of great adversity: mutual aid, direct action, camping and building cross-movement alliances.

– Understand how new legislation that was passed during the start of the pandemic has made way for abuses and the increase in housing precarity and deprivation.

– See how EAC organizations have called out on housing injustices consisting of abuses made on the homeless, the incarcerated and through the rise of domestic violence.Β 

Housing movements consulted in our survey agree that the current crisis has broken the β€œnormality” of the pre-pandemic period. They also share the expectation that the post-pandemic period will lead to a grave social and economic crisis, a rise in prices and inequality. It is to be expected that these will affect most the weakest economies and the most vulnerable workers, such as seasonal and precarious workers. Austerity measures and an increase in poverty are also expected, as well as a reinvention of capitalism in an even more aggressive form.

Most groups shared a concern that following the lockdown and the end of the moratoriums on evictions and various payments, landlords and letting agents will pursue tenants to recover the rent arrears and a great wave of evictions will follow. They believe the state is not taking the necessary measures to protect people from the risk of losing their homes, finding themselves overburdened by debt. The report shows cases of evictions even during the pandemic, and the latest news in most countries seems to confirm these concerns.

Nonetheless, there is also space for growth. Some of the housing justice groups we talked to believe that the pandemic has prompted reflection on what β€œgoing back to normal” actually means or should mean, and has shown that some measures are possible despite the regular discourse. The systemic problems have become even more visible than before, showing an unsustainable construction. And the fact that measures that were priorly unthinkable such as extensive moratoriums on evictions or rent eliminations were actually implemented in a rather short time, might set a precedent in terms of what is possible.

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The groups that have contributed to the survey are: A City For All (Frankfurt), BΓΌndnis ZwangsrΓ€umung Verhindern/Stop Evictions (Berlin), Solidarity Action Neukolln (Berlin), Stop Auctions Athens (Athens), The Roof Over Our Heads (Belgrade, Novi Sad, Subotica), Action Network for Housing and the City (Cyprus – national), Movement Against Foreclosures (Cyprus – national), Bydlet-ΕΎΓ­t (Czechia – national), Irish Housing Network (Dublin), Bond Precaire Woonvormen (Amsterdam), Habita! (Lisbon), Frontul Comun pentru Dreptul la Locuire / The Common Front for Housing Rights FCDL (Bucharest), CΔƒΘ™i sociale ACUM / Social housing NOW (Cluj-Napoca), Ort Till Ort (Stockholm), Living Rent (Scotland – national), Radical Housing Network (London). Further information has been provided by and has been collected from public platforms of: Habitat et Participation (Brussels), A Varos Mindenkie (Budapest), Comitato Abitanti San Siro / Cantiere (Milan), PAH International Commission (National), Pravo Na Grad (Zagreb) and Droit Au Logement/ DAL (France – national).

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Who are we?

The EAC is an anti-hierarchical, democratic and pluralistic platform, independent of any political party or religious belief. Our values demand the political, economic and social changes that could enable the realisation of decent housing for all. At the same time, we consider housing to be a basic resource intertwined with other urban and land resources that are increasingly privatized. Thus, in concurrence with reclaiming housing for all, we reclaim such resources as commons for all.

Created in 2013, the EAC is a platform for the defence of the right to housing and to the city. Consisting of a network of over 30 organizations in 20 countries, the Coalition represents a significant segment of the movement for housing justice on the European continent. We reclaim the right to participate in effective decision-making on the spaces and resources of our cities and want environmental sustainability and the possibility for inhabitants’ connection with the countryside. We oppose all forms of oppression, and we see housing as an intersectional issue that affects people differently and disproportionately. Accordingly, our vision is based on anti-capitalist, anti-racist, anti-bordering and feminist struggles. At the same time, we strive for awareness of political geographic differences while we acknowledge that Europe is not a unified, uniform territory but abundant with structural asymmetries and inequalities.

Read the full report on our website: https://bit.ly/2CEaT88

Follow us on social media:

Facebook: @europeancoalition / Twitter: @4HousingandCity /

Instagram: european_action_coalition

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Contact us directly on email at: eac.communication.coord@gmail.com

Photo: Housing is basic human right (source: Pixabay, CC0)

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