House Occupation News

Uk: Don’t believe the hype. Evictions continue despite moratorium

The ban is a lie. Despite the UK government declaring a “complete ban on evictions” due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, in the last 24 hours an autonomous homeless shelter in Brighton and an occupied space in Peckham have been illegally evicted by people claiming to be bailiffs, allegedly with the full support and cooperation of the Sussex and Metropolitan police officers in attendance.

The government’s no evictions claim is really just the abdication of due process and the scant judicial protections formerly afforded to tenants, squatters and the under-class in general.

Get ready. The bailiffs and their bosses are taking the law into their own hands, with the police in full support.

Freedom received the following statement from one of the occupants of the Peckham squat:

“On Thursday 2 April 2020 at approximately 17:00, police arrived at 1 Rye Lane in Peckham after being called by a group of 2 men who had arrived at approximately 16:03 and who had claimed to be the owners of this non-residential property without proof.

The two men had been antagonising and threatening our group of 5 women and 1 man for occupying the building. We had been occupying number 1 Rye Lane since Wednesday 25 March 2020 and the police were aware of this, as around 12 police officers had arrived on Friday, 27 March, in 4 cars. They had gained entry to the property by taking out metal fencing and a wooden door. The police had gained entry without a warrant and had left after seeing our legal warning that highlighted that we were occupying the building and also highlighted the squatting laws.

The legal warning stipulates that the government will not seek to criminalise squatting in non-residential buildings, such as disused factories, warehouses or pubs; that we were occupying the property, and at all times there is at least one person in occupation; that any entry or attempt to enter into these premises without our permission is therefore a criminal offence, as any one of us who is in physical possession is opposed to such entry without our permission; that if anyone attempts to enter by violence or by threatening violence can be prosecuted and may receive a sentence of up to six months imprisonment and/or a fine of up to £5,000; that if you want to get us out you will have to issue a claim for possession in the County Court or in the High Court.

We believe that the entry by the police on Friday 27 March while we were occupying the building would have been caught by some of the numerous CCTV cameras in the area. When the police had illegally gained entry into the building they found us inside, at which point we explained that we were occupying it under squatting laws and they established this by seeing our sleeping materials. They left us at that point as they seemed to acknowledge the law.

A group of us remained in constant occupation of this building, and the rest of us began to move our living and sleeping materials in. On the afternoon of Thursday, 2nd April, some men who claimed to be owners of the property turned up and they began threatening us with physical harm. This caused a lot of distress, particularly for the women in the group.

The men who were claiming to be the owners also began threatening us saying they were going to call immigration officers which we believe was motivated by racism having seen that there was a woman of colour in our group who actually has a legal right to live in the UK and other Europeans who also have a legal right to be in the UK. This caused a lot of distress to the group and threats to people of colour and immigrants like this constitute a hate crime under hate speech laws in England & Wales, namely section 4A of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. We made the police aware of what had happened when they arrived, both the physical threats and hate speech. The police officers didn’t take it seriously and brushed it off.

One of the people claiming to be the owner had illegally gained entry into the building while we were occupying it. The people claiming to be the owners had also ripped off our Section 6 notice and torn it up before the police came. After the police arrived and in full sight of the officers, the men who were claiming to be owners began to break the door down despite both the owners and the police being made aware of the squatting laws and that what they were doing was illegal. They broke the door down and gained entry and, with the help of the police, they illegally evicted us from the building.

The police threatened us with arrest if we did not leave the building and we have video footage of Constable Ryan Taney threatening us and Constable Thorpe telling one of us to stop filming him making threats telling him to step back during the illegal eviction. Constable Taney is seen talking to one of the men claiming to be the owner who they had handcuffed for illegally gaining entry, the police later let him go without arrest and without charging him.

It is evident that the police participated in the illegal forced entry of an occupied building and assisted in the illegal eviction of squatters. One of the officers is heard saying he is a police officer so he can gain lawful entry anyway, a statement which goes against squatting laws for non-residential buildings.

When a non-residential building that’s not in use is occupied by squatters, the legal way to regain possession of the building by anyone claiming to be the owner is to take the occupiers to civil court. The people claiming to be the owners need to use the appropriate legal route which requires that they file a claim for possession in court and serve the correct papers to the occupiers of the building with a court date that they can all attend with a judge present to verify all of the information and relevant documents needed. The documents required in the court of law to claim possession of a property include title deeds for the property. The judge then scrutinises and verifies the legitimacy of the documents before granting possession. If the documents are seen to be missing or to not be legitimate, the judge then asks the claimant to provide the correct documentation at a later court date and possession of the building by the claimant is not granted without the correct proof of ownership through these legal documents. This is in place to protect both the people occupying the building from bullying, harassment, abuse or being illegally evicted like happened to us and also to protect property owners, as anyone can claim to be the owner of a building but without appropriate proof, it’s just a claim!

The police claimed that they were not aware that we were squatters even though we had told them and even though they had attended the building nearly a week before and verified that we were occupying the building. We managed to record some clips of what happened and in one clip you can see the officer claiming to not have been aware it was a squat even though we told him when they arrived.

Despite having a legal warning before the police arrived and before the owners had ripped it off the door and torn it up, there is actually no legal requirement to have such warning up if you are already occupying a building under squatting laws and we did tell the owner and police that we were squatting the building which they all ignored. It seems the lack of the legal warning after it had been torn up by the owners was being used as an excuse to illegally evict us. This is an abuse of power and completely against the law.

Furthermore, it is shocking considering that special measures have been in place since 27 March 2020 that stop all evictions, including squatters, due to the major public health crisis we are all in during the current COVID-19 pandemic that’s disrupted everyone’s lives and is causing a lot of anxieties and deaths in the UK and all around the world. Evicting people unlawfully should never happen and doing so to put people on the streets at a time like this is inhumane and dangerous. The officers could also have put others as risk along with putting themselves at risk of spreading or catching the virus.

We will pursue this injustice for as long as we can and as far as we can to ensure that such an abuse of power and unlawful behaviour from the police never happens to anyone else again! We would also like to highlight that police willingly ignoring public health measures in these unprecedented times of crisis is never OK no matter who you are along with not taking physical threats and hate speech seriously.

We are very disappointed with the behaviour of the police officers and we hope you can put in place serious disciplinary measures to ensure they and the rest of the police force do not abuse their power and that they respect the law, which includes squatting laws, to protect the homeless and other marginalised people.”

Groups in UK: https://radar.squat.net/en/groups/country/GB
Events in UK: https://radar.squat.net/en/events/country/GB

Freedom News https://freedomnews.org.uk/dont-believe-the-hype-evictions-continue-despite-moratorium/

Calais: Coronavirus, housing and deportations

For more than two weeks now, France has been on lock-down. With most French people unable to leave their homes, migrants in Calais are still being evicted from theirs. Human Rights Observers in Calais have counted 45 deportations since March 17th. A police union, Synergie-Officiers, has called for an end to these daily deportations, but the department and prefecture still insist they continue. The PAF (Police Aux Frontiers) have stopped carrying out these daily deportations in the city, initially retreating to their work in the detention centre. This just means different cops do them (CRS and Gendarmerie).

The crisis that is the states’ response to the coronavirus pandemic does not show any signs of letting up. Additional powers are being granted to states from now. As one example (stay aware of others) of the state using the pandemic to meet its goals that could not otherwise be easily achieved, Greece used it to justify evicting many families from the Politechnio squat.

In Calais, health and sanitation have already been used as excuses for deportations. Despite a later ruling against the closing of shops and restaurants in the jungle, armed police seized food, water, gas, cigarettes in 2016, under pretext of “sanitary control.” Calling it a humanitarian intervention, in 2014, the state evicted about 650 people because of scabies and sanitation. Neither then nor now, the state took responsibility for creating these conditions for people or gave solutions.

Mayor Bouchart has been pressing the national government to permanently clear migrants from the city, although not doing anything herself to try and get people off of Calais’ streets and into actual housing. Now, a new shelter is opening in Pas de Calais during the ‘confinement generale’ where migrants will go (from Calais and Grand Synthe).

On Tuesday, associations came to the camps with government officials, distributing information. A bus from the Prefecture took some people (limited to 14 per bus, on a first come basis) to the shelter. Due to concerns over two individuals exhibiting symptoms, everybody was turned away on arrival to the center and sent back to Calais. The buses will continue. It is unclear what the shelter entails, what will happen to people after the confinement period when the centers close. It is clear that there is not enough place to house everyone.

Refugees related groups: https://radar.squat.net/en/groups/topic/sans-papiers

Calais Migrant Solidarity https://calaismigrantsolidarity.wordpress.com/2020/04/02/coronavirus-housing-and-evictions-in-calais/

Brighton: Another illegal eviction

Yesterday (1 April) the DiY Kodak Collective (previously on S!N) were again illegally evicted from a building. This is the second time in a week. This time it was a squatted basement flat, part of the complex which used to be the Hostelpoint at Pool Valley coach station in central Brighton.

Three men claiming to be the owners came by at noon to threaten violence unless the squatters left by 9am on 2 April. They then came back at 7pm the same day with a sledgehammer and smashed their way in. While they did so, a passerby flagged down a police car. Instead of arresting the angry men brandishing a sledgehammer, the police entered the squat, quoting PACE 17 which is complete nonsense. The legal warning was on the door stating that anyone using force to enter was breaking the law. No-one wanted to stay and wait for more violence to come, so we decided to leave.

As a sidenote, none of the four police or three other men wore any masks or gloves, and they weren’t social distancing. Also, we’ve lost a lot of stuff in this eviction. It’s no surprise that owners act like thugs or that police don’t respect the law. It is a shame that local media create an atmosphere where this can happen by happily reporting on the illegal eviction of the former Globe pub a week ago.

Thanks to Canary and Freedom for publishing decent news.

Thanks to all our supporters!

Solidarity to all squatters!

DiY Kodak Collective
(link to fundraiser)

UK: Evictions held over, hotels for the homeless — Covid is upending housing

The legal situation has been changing so rapidly that even full-timers are struggling to keep up, but with the introduction of Practice Direction 51Z it looks like eviction proceedings are finally off the table for now and we have time to take stock of what is now utterly uncharted territory in British housing.

Minutes after I’d finished an article regarding the situation regarding squats and ongoing evictions in Britain the information became outdated, as emergency procedural changes were brought in by the government, in theory protecting everyone, squatters, renters, and the street homeless, from the risks of being out on the streets during this period. Let’s explore what each of these measures might realistically mean.

Up until this moment, the government had promised a three-month breather for mortgage repayments, and then – under pressure – caved and stated that tenants who fail to pay rent will be protected from eviction for the next three months. This does not mean a lot in practice, as the rent still needs to be paid, and agreements for doing so settled on. Under a regular Section 8 eviction for renters there is a two-month notice period anyway, thus the Coronavirus Act 2020 only grants a further four weeks notice. This still leaves many in hugely stressful positions, knowing that come the end of the grace period there will be a lot of landlords looking to make up for lost time in pursuing possession orders.

Squatters were (again, until now) not considered part of the equation. The Pie ‘n’ Mash Autonomous Cafe in South London was evicted on the day it was to become the first Mutual Aid Centre (following the rise of the autonomously-organised Mutual Aid groups to assist people affected by the coronavirus) — the same day that it was announced that renters would be protected from eviction. Multiple evictions took place in the following days across the country, including the brutal eviction of a squatted homeless shelter in Brighton just days ago, seemingly a rush by owners and bailiff companies to finish their business in the case that the government prevented them from doing so in the future. More cases were confirmed to go ahead in the court system, even as the courts closed services, and challenges launched by the Advisory Service for Squatters fell on the deaf ears of the particularly anti-squatter judges.

A leak from a property management company to the newspapers also showed that owners were also keen to push through as many rental evictions as possible before it became too difficult to do, and as a result were hiring more and more bailiffs to carry out the evictions before total lockdown. Bailiffs are not known for their empathy, and across the nation evictions took place, with those executing them happy to remove people from their homes while wearing protective face masks and rubber gloves.

However, as of March 27th, under the instruction of the Master of the Rolls a new civil procedural rule was brought into place – Practice Direction 51Z. PD 51Z came in with immediate effect, putting a 90-day stay on all possession proceedings, seemingly including squatting cases, as they are somewhat inseparable from other trespassing cases. The question still remains as to whether a writ that has already been issued in the High Court can still be enforced by the bailiff companies (the High Court Enforcement Officers Association believe they can be). On top of this, there is the risk that without a legal framework in place, there is the possibility of a rise in illegal evictions as landlords take matters into their own hands (one person in an organising whatsapp chat already had the locks changed on them).

And of those who sleep on the street? New instruction from central government on the same day was that all local councils were to take responsibility for housing every rough sleeper in their borough, whether in hostels, hotels, or night shelters. This request came without any guarantee of funding of reimbursement. With some night shelters closing down due to their communal nature and therefore risk of contracting the virus, the council would be left to financially convince hotels and the like to remain open. Previously grassroots organisations managed to wrangle beds for rough sleepers in the Islington borough, but the reality is (having spoken with some people working with them) that with lack of access to funds a lot of the people offered places just ended up back on the streets anyway as that is what is familiar to them, and it’s how people get money. Presumably the same issues will arise in simply ordering that every homeless person be housed this weekend. Without addressing the wider issues it fails to actually solve the problem.

So we are left with a situation that has some promise of safety and security for the crisis period, but let’s not give credit to the government, who only took these certain steps after massive pressure from the public. It all leaves a lot to be desired. Rent arrears, illegal evictions, and continued homelessness. What can be done then, or is being done?

Across the country Mutual Aid groups have sprung up, to coordinate assistance between neighbourhoods during this time. Some groups have been procuring items for NHS workers, others for those in isolation, or who are sleeping rough and don’t have access to necessary goods.

The London Renters Union is organising to provide support and build pressure to have rents frozen. A separate affiliation of anarchist groups have pushed for a Rent Strike in London (sorry for the London-centric info, use your local Mutual Aid group to find or organise a rent strike in your area!). Joining these groups and their actions is important, but organising within your local housing community is also just important, as these things can only work with a reliance on the people around us.

Shelter has provided a good guidance sheet regarding your housing rights during this period, and is worth a read.

With the 90-day break on eviction proceedings, squatters are looking to open up more buildings in the hope that they can be used to house safely those that need to isolate more extremely during this period, whether from other squats or people who are street homeless. In Berlin anarchists and squatters achieved this on Saturday 28th as part of the Housing Action Day 2020.

The important thing that we must take from all this is that we can’t just write this off as a crisis to be recovered from, to get back to normal. The system is broken and we need to create new ways of living, of fighting. In 3 months time we don’t want everyone to face an inevitability of mass evictions as landlords seek to make up for lost time and money. We must build strong relationships with people in our local areas, create and strengthen networks to resist evictions, and move forward with a conviction that all should be housed including the homeless.

Groups in London: https://radar.squat.net/en/groups/city/london
Events in London: https://radar.squat.net/en/events/city/London

Groups in UK: https://radar.squat.net/en/groups/country/GB
Events in UK: https://radar.squat.net/en/events/country/GB

Freedom News https://freedomnews.org.uk/evictions-held-over-hotels-for-the-homeless-covid-is-upending-housing/

Berlin: 12 places squatted

#StayAtHome is not possible for everyone in times of Covid19. Especially if you are homeless. That’s why we squatted one Airbnb, 9 empty apartments and 2 houses in Berlin and gave them for those who need a safe place.
Solidarity will win!
#besetzen @besetzenberlin

South Africa: Evictions mark first day of national lockdown

Even as police let loose with rubber bullets and beatings against shoppers yesterday in an effort to enforce the new national Covid-19 lockdown, in Durban they were turfing people into the street.

The eThekwini municipality evicted residents from the Ekuphumeleleni settlement near Shallcross in Ward 17 on Friday when, at 2pm, nine vehicles linked to Calvin Security arrived at the contested site, which was first established as a land occupation in October 2019, to tear down people’s homes. No court order was produced and residents say the evictions were illegal and criminal, as well as being in violation of rules governing the national state of disaster.

Eight shacks were torn down while 17 others were marked with an “X” and “ABM” indicating that Calvin Security are planning to come back to evict again. The building materials for the eight shacks that were destroyed were pulverised and left in small pieces. A number of people have been left with injuries.

The community in Ekuphumeleleni had occupied a number of vacant Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) houses following gross corruption in the allocation process. The community say they took the action after all other attempts to address blatant malpractice in the allocation process had failed. After the occupation however the municipality refused to allow services to be provided, so it was decided instead to self-organise connections to water and electricity. The Municipality had tried to evict the community but the movement was able to prevent the eviction.

Under the latest guidelines published on March 25th, the government notes that every person should be confined to their place of residence and that the State must identify and provide hygienic temporary space to self-isolate. for anyone who is homeless.

The eThekwini municipality however has defied the national call for social-distancing during the state of disaster issued by President Cyril Ramaphosa. They have also refused to follow recommendations by the Minister of Justice for a moratorium on all evictions, and ignored calls by the UN Special Rapporteur on Housing to ban evictions worldwide during the crisis.

In a statement, land housing campaign Abahlali baseMojondolo said:

“To our knowledge the eThekwini municipality has become the first state organ to break the law and all the precautionary measures that the President of the country has directed all of us to obey. The eThekwini Municipality is a gangster municipality that has no regard for the law and consistently engages in violent attacks against impoverished people.

“Last week similar unlawful evictions were carried out by eThekwini municipality in a number of settlements and people were injured. On Sunday Calvin Security were demolishing in Ekuphumeleleni. One of our members was hospitalised after this eviction when a Calvin Security employee hit him on the forehead with a spade.

“The government tells us that we must all stay inside our homes during this health crisis and yet, at the same time, they are demolishing the homes of impoverished people. This makes no sense.

“It is not possible for us to trust a municipality that destroys our homes during a crisis like this. We are left with no choice but to continue to resist oppression during this crisis. We will organise our resistance in the safest possible way, but we will resist. We are currently experimenting with holding meetings online via cellphone apps, and have already consulted our lawyers. Of course, people whose homes have been destroyed now have no other choice other than to reoccupy and to rebuild.

“[On Friday] a taxi driver who had loaded 16 people in his taxi was arrested. A butchery owner was also arrested for raising prices during the crisis. We call on the national government to act decisively against the recklessness and cruelty of the eThekwini Municipality. If the national government is serious about what they have said they must also arrest the municipal officials who gave the order for this eviction, and the head of Calvin Security.”

Freedom

Thessaloniki: Authorities use COVID-19 lockdown to crack down on self-managed Vio.Me factory

While the Greek people are placed under quarantine due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the Greek authorities continue their agenda against the social movements in the country. The state has found the perfect timing to conduct its new attack on the self-managed Vio.Me. factory in Thessaloniki: early this morning, accompanied by two squads of riot police, employees of the state-owned electric company have cut off the power to the factory.

The Vio.Me. factory has been operated directly by the workers since 2013 and from the beginning it has oriented itself towards ecological production at the cheapest possible price so as to show its solidarity to the crisis-stricken Greek society. As one of the brightest contemporary examples of economic direct democracy, the factory has been attacked by all governments (including the Left SYRIZA), but has persisted due to the strong grassroots support it enjoys.

Now the right-wing New Democracy government has found the perfect setting in which to operate as all Greek citizens have been placed under lockdown, which requires certain paperwork to be filled before one can leave her home, or risk a fine.

There are already several cases of this dirty strategy. On 15 of March, just two days since the lockdown was first introduced, police forces evicted refugees who were sheltered in the historic Politechnic University at the heart of the rebellious Exarcheia neighborhood. A few days later, on 19th March, the authorities arrested 11 Kurdish and Turkish left-wing political refugees.

Everything shows that the State will use the opportunity given to it by the pandemic, not to help the thousands of sick people, but to increase the militarization of Greek cities and to deal with the social struggles that have been paralyzed by the lockdown. Now is the moment to show our solidarity and be vocal about the government’s excesses.

Below is the announcement of Vio.Me. after the power shut-down:

“The vampires of power acting in the dark found the “right” moment to cut off the power of the self-managed factory of Vio.Me. at 6:30 in the morning 30/3/20. They had the crane ready and with the support of 2 SWAT squads, which means a political command, they functioned like the Greek governments of the 50s who executed the fighters in the dark so that the people would not react. We also denounce the PPC “colleagues” who collaborated as executors in the same act.

We demand the immediate reconnection of the power supply.

And all this while we are in the process with the Ministry of Labor for the full legalization of self-managed factory of Vio.Me.

And while they know that we produce personal and home hygiene products, which are of primary importance to society.

In solidarity,
Workers at SE Vio.Me

Yavor Tarinski

Freedom

Brighton: Police and security firm evict people onto the streets in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic

Police and security guards have evicted a squatted homeless shelter, throwing people onto the streets as the coronavirus pandemic takes over the UK. The unbelievable eviction came one day after the government announced that people will be fined for not observing orders to stay at home.

The eviction also took place just before the government announced that it has asked all local authorities to house rough sleepers.

The eviction

Brighton’s DIY Kodak Collective have been squatting commercial buildings since December 2019. They have been providing safe shelter for people who have no fixed address (NFA). The tiny city of Brighton has a staggering 665 empty commercial buildings. So the collective use some of these empty buildings to house themselves.

But on Thursday 26 March, the police used force when apparently assisting security firm Resolve Security to evict the squat.

The Kodak Collective’s Kate Barnes told The Canary:

Without warning, and completely ignoring the posters on the building (which stated it was a legal occupation of a commercial building), they started attacking the front doors with crowbars and angle grinders.

As they made their way in there was a struggle as people in the squat tried to stop them coming in, as they didn’t have legal grounds. One of the police officers knocked our disabled friend to the floor, and she has been in pain since. They also tore off the printed notices we’d stuck to the building.

‘Bypassing the proper legal procedures’

The Kodak Collective is deeply concerned that the police and property owners are using the current crisis to ignore the law. Barnes stated:

It seems like they’re using the halting of court cases at the moment to bypass the proper legal procedures and evict squatters without any prior warning. It is really hard for NFA people to self-isolate safely, so places like ours have offered a space to do so, where residents could be comfortable, look out for each other and receive outside support.

The Canary asked both Sussex Police and Resolve Security if they would like to comment. The police force told us that it had very limited information because it was a civil matter. Resolve Security did not reply by the time of publication.

The government isn’t doing enough

The government announced funding of £3.2m on 17 March to help rough sleepers self-isolate. But as The Canary has already pointed out, this figure is dwarfed by the estimated £428bn bailout announced for British businesses.

On 27 March, Sky News reported that:

The Government has written to all local authorities in England asking them to house all people sleeping rough, those in hostels and night shelters by the weekend in a bid to protect people during the covid-19 outbreak.

But this is only a temporary fix. Besides, government statistics of the number of people who are homeless are largely inaccurate. Barnes highlighted:

Official stats around how many homeless people there are in one place are really untrustworthy. There are many homeless people who go uncounted and undocumented and they do not include people sofa-surfing, living in hostels and in emergency accommodation. Brighton and Hove council says that there are 88 homeless people in Brighton. But a couple of years ago a group organised by those in the NFA community counted more than 300 people.

People don’t just need temporary accommodation for the duration of the pandemic, they need safe, secure, permanent homes. People often feel much safer in their own squats than they would a hostel.

Protect squats

The Kodak Collective told The Canary that the NFA community is “set to be hit the hardest by the Coronavirus pandemic.” She has urged the public to show solidarity when it’s most needed:

We need strong community support and resistance against situations like this eviction, where people were thrown out of their home and onto the streets, putting them at greater risk. The government needs to take responsibility, not just for housing the NFA community, but for protecting their autonomy and rights.

Squats are not mentioned under the new legislation, which suggests that the NFA community have been overlooked or simply deemed not worthy enough.

The very least the government can do is to guarantee that people won’t be evicted from squatted homes. In the longer-term, the government needs to reassess its laws which criminalise squatting. Everyone has the right to a home, not just those who can pay for it.

Canary

Berlin: “We will squat…

… until we no longer have to.” That’s what we have always said. In times of “emergency”, this wording can be expanded to an appeal: “You have to join in!”

Covid-19 is hitting more and more areas of the world and it turns out that the so-called emergency is the rule. For, where people are called by the supposedly necessary and strict father state: “Stay at home!”, not everyone has a home. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the state itself has been pushing up for a long time the numbers of homeless by evicting them. At the same time, the state closes day-care centers that the homeless need for the measly bread of mercy and a little soap and water. In its brazen double standards, the state then exhorts patriarchally, “Pay attention to hygiene!”

“Avoid social contacts!” That’s what the governments demand. But where should refugees retreat to, when they are penned up in camps and deportation prisons at Europe’s external borders and the German periphery? With human rights – such as asylum, freedom of movement and housing – they were also deprived of the opportunity to effectively protect themselves against Covid-19.

The catastrophe in Germany is, that not even the last broken-down remnants of its healthcare system are accessible to everyone. It is a social farce that doctors*, paramedics* and nursing staff, who declared the state of emergency in healthcare long before Covid-19, were ignored. So, they are the least responsible for this emergency situation and therefore deserve our full solidarity. As in Italy, they will soon be forced to make decisions about who can live and who must die. That alone is catastrophic.

The Catastrophe is called capitalism. And it’s the rule.

For days now, tenants*, social organizations and social democratic parties have been demanding the confiscation of holiday homes and vacancies in order to make them available to the homeless and asylum seekers. While apartments offer the most effective protection against the corona virus, the city of Berlin has created 350 places in a youth hostel and a cold aid facility. Selling that as solidarity is cynical.

In the current situation, the confiscation of empty apartments and buildings is a social duty.
That’s why we will squat and you have to join in!

Groups in Berlin https://radar.squat.net/en/groups/city/berlin
Events in Berlin https://radar.squat.net/en/events/city/Berlin
Stressfaktor https://radar.squat.net/de/stressfaktor

Groups in Germany https://radar.squat.net/en/groups/country/DE
Events in Germany https://radar.squat.net/en/events/country/DE

Besetzen https://www.besetzen.org/en/besetzenlive-3/

Uk: 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 theanarchist-instigated and autonomously-organised Mutual Aid groups that had sprung up around the city, and now the country [https://freedomnews.org.uk/covid-19-uk-mutual-aid-groups-a-list/]. 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.

All the stops are being pulled out by the lawyers and the bailiffs to ensure they still have something to do during this period. As the courts are shutting down a lot of services they have suggested that new possession proceedings will not be accepted. In reality this is not the case. Telephone hearings have been set up, and this allows claimants to go through the process without providing proof of service (a squat recently received a copy of a possession order granted, despite never having been served the initial claim paperwork, thus denying them the chance to attend). Other squats have been calling the courts, to be told their cases will be going ahead.

Attempts to argue for a stay on execution of the possession orders have so far been unsuccessful, with one particularly anti-squatter judge rejecting the idea without so much as a second thought, despite the clearly outlined human rights and health and safety arguments. More challenges will be, and are being launched by members of the Advisory Service for Squatters however.

And it is not just the squatters that are at risk. With the Coronavirus Act 2020 now enacted , the relevant schedule regarding evictions simply states that those with residential tenancies should be entitled to 3 months notice rather than the already-required 2 months [http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2020/7/schedule/29/enacted].A leak from a property management company to The Guardian suggests that owners are trying to push through rental evictions at a huge rate before it becomes too difficult to do, and as a result are hiring more and more bailiffs to carry out the evictions before total lockdown. The Master of the Rolls has just announced that the court service will suspend all ongoing housing possession action but this certainly does not look like it applies to cases of trespass, and it remains to be seen whether it prevents a writ that has already been issued from being enforced by private High Court Enforcement (if it has reached that stage).

In one case a group were told by a bailiff that they did not wish to carry out the eviction, but the overwhelming trend is that the bailiffs do not care, and in fact are probably quite happy to still be employed, carrying out evictions kitted out in gloves and masks. There must be a lot of out of work security who are keen to take up the role.

Despite all this squatters in the city have been coming together (in the metaphorical sense more so than physical) to ensure that squats in the same neighbourhoods are linked up to co-ordinate and make sure each crew has enough to eat, enough space, and be aware of the health conditions of the members of the crew. Health and safety precautions are communicated to each other so if there is contact between people then everyone is aware of the risks and the care taken to mitigate them. Buildings are being opened to provide more space for those who need greater isolation. While some forms of organising have obviously had to take a back seat, those skills are being put to use to help each other stay safe.

Squatters, tenants, and the street homeless alike, everyone needs protection and the ability to keep social distancing during this crisis. Creating homelessness does nothing but exacerbate the issue. The plan to house the homeless in hotels is all very well, but without addressing the issues surrounding homelessness it does not guarantee safety from infection. And while Travelodge is happy to shut doors and evict without notice many families in temporary accommodation, we know that there is no security in any measures the government opts for at this point.

Occupations and rent strikes. These are measures we can take to protect ourselves and each other. We must continue to build strong eviction resistance networks in our neighbourhoods, and push back against any attempts to further marginalise those on the fringes of society during this time.

Groups in UK: https://radar.squat.net/en/groups/country/GB
Events in UK: https://radar.squat.net/en/events/country/GB

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/government-support-available-for-landlords-and-renters-reflecting-the-current-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak

Athens: Anti-Covid19, network for Mutual aid and Struggle

In the unprecedented social conditions we are living in, the spread of coronavirus has taken critical dimensions for the national healthcare systems and the capitalist mode of production as well as social organisation in general. For the system to survive, state and bosses implement totalitarian politics and a further devaluation of our lives.

– Lack of health facilities for the big majority of the population
– Militarisation of our everyday life, with a ban on transportation enforced through economic, surveilled and penal repression
– Mass layoffs, intensification and dire conditions for those working in hospitals, super markets, fast food restaurants, telecommunications
– Creation of concentration camps for migrants and mass incarceration in prisons without any health provision
– No meaningful measure for the homeless, drug users, sex workers
– Increase of domestic and gender violence cases as well as psychological breakdowns due to the prolonged confinement of people in their homes

All of the above make up a dystopia to which we deem necessary to respond to in a direct and collective way, self-organised and in solidarity with every subject that is experiencing the physical, psychical and mental consequences of totalitarianism; and at the same time to fight to break the unproductive and totalitarian management of the present crisis by the state. For these reasons we want to communicate and create a network for solidarity and struggle, with initial aims the following:

– Food and medicine collection and delivery; or meals from social kitchens
– Psychosocial support. Converstation through phone and even face-to-face private meeting, adhering to the healthcare measures
– Reporting domestic and gender violence cases and direct interventions
– Collect and publish information from concentration camps and prisons

The responsibility is not collective as the state is shamelessly trying to manipulate us through the horror-loving coverage of the virus by the media, but it is first and foremost the state’s responsibility. The pointed shifting of responsibilities from the state and its representatives to each individual for the acquittal of the systematic underfunding and understaffing of the healthcare system is unacceptable and vile. We are not to blame for the shortages of permanent medical staff, intensive care units, medical equipment but the particular governments that spent thousands of euros to save banks or for military equipment instead of staffing undervalued public hospitals.

We put forward as a direct collective action a freeze in payments, debts, rent, electricity, water, internet, public transportation. According to us these basic services should be free anyway and let alone in a situation of financial destabilisation like this. All people of the exploited and non-privileged class have to spare their money for basic consumer goods like food and medicine, since the future is uncertain.

We put forward as a direct collective action a freeze in payments, debts, rent, electricity, water, internet, public transportation. According to us these basic services should be free anyway and let alone in a situation of financial destabilisation like this. All people of the exploited and non-privileged class have to spare their money for basic consumer goods like food and medicine, since the future is uncertain.

WE DEMAND FROM THE STATE AND THE BOSSES

– Permanent socialization of all private healthcare facilities and health products units.
– Unemployment benefit to all laid-off workers and the unemployed.
– All goods to be sold at cost price, super market bosses do not profit off our backs.
– Compliance with the demands of workers for pay, working time, even the cessation of employment for their self-protection.
– Closure of all capitalist structures (factories, shops etc.) that don’t cover basic needs.
– Compliance with the demands of prisoners and release of all high-risk individuals, prisoners with charges of less than 5 years, and all those who await trial. Setting up healthcare facilities for prisoners and provision of sanitary products.
– Closure of all concentration camps and papers to all migrants.
– Transformation of airbnb and hotels to self-containment facilities for people with symptoms, high-risk groups, people affected by domestic and gender violence and people facing housing issues.

Tsiodras shed crocodile tears for the people who are to get sick and invited us all to assume our responsibilities for the protection of public health. Recognising that public health includes also people in factories, prisons and concentration camps, we announce that if the state doesn’t care about public health in total, we have the collective responsibility to take actions to ensure this. We also inform that we will necessarily move on to organise and escalate similar actions in case the state continues the exploitation of the state of emergency to repress its political enemies, anarchists and fighters, and to pass laws that it wouldn’t be able to pass in times of mobilisation. The movement and the people of the social base are already organising mutual-aid and resistance structures for the current crisis and the upcoming impoverishment and no martial law can stop them. The survival of the repressed and the exploited in times of a general crises depends directly on their self-organisation, thus any attempt to repress must be answered in defiance of any restrictions.

Open assembly of squats, collectives, internationalists, migrants and solidarians
Exarcheia, Athens
(+30) 6945276127
synsquat [at] riseup [dot] net
https://synsquat.blackblogs.org/

Some squats in Greece: https://radar.squat.net/en/groups/country/GR/squated/squat
Groups in Greece: https://radar.squat.net/en/groups/country/GR
Events in Greece: https://radar.squat.net/en/events/country/GR

Indymedia Athens https://athens.indymedia.org/post/1603968/

Seattle: Rent Strike

Around the country, as people lose their jobs and wonder how they will pay their rent or mortgage, the words rent strike are being heard more and more. This website https://rentstrike.noblogs.org/ will serve as a resource for how to make a rent and mortgage strike a reality in Seattle. Check back for more resources for how we can refuse to pay together.
Have a resource to share? Want to send us your own declaration of rent strike? Get in touch: rentstrike [at] riseup [dot] net

Why Strike?

In this moment, millions of people are being faced with the reality of being unable to pay their bills. Countless people who live from one paycheck to the next have lost their jobs and income already and have no way to make April’s rent or mortgage payment. Even under normal circumstances, people in Seattle have been struggling to pay rent for years, with rents that are 93% above the national average. It should come as no surprise that in this moment, people simply cannot pay.

Some are calling on the state and federal government to put a moratorium on rent and mortgage collections. If this happens, great. If it does not, this changes nothing. We still can’t pay, so we won’t. Banks and landlords should not be able to continue profiting on renters and mortgages when there is no way to earn money. That’s just common sense. If we can’t make money, neither can or landlords, neither can the banks.

Even if you can personally pay your rent, that doesn’t mean you should. The best way to support those who cant pay rent is for all of us to go on rent strike together, rendering it impossible for the authorities to target everyone who does not pay.

Refuse to pay rent April 1st. If not for your own sake, then for the sake of your neighbor.

FAQ about the Eviction Moratorium

Who is approved for the Seattle moratorium issued by Mayor Jenny Durkan around COVID-19?

Governor Jay Inslee issued a “30-day statewide moratorium” on evictions for residential tenants. For Seattle, the decisions are evolving but the residential, small businesses and nonprofit moratorium on evictions is in effect. It is reported that evictions for nonpayment of rent would be suspended for “60 days or until the end of the city’s emergency.” This originally was 30 days but has now been extended to 60 days.

What counts as a small business under the moratorium?

“It covers evictions related to nonpayment of rent and lease expirations, and it defines a small business as any business entity with 50 or fewer employees, including sole proprietorships.” We assume this is the same definition for non-profits as well.

Who is NOT approved under Seattle’s evictions moratorium?

Seattle’s moratorium does not extend to commercial properties. It’s also important to note that the moratorium and council’s resolution does not address “homeowner-mortgage concerns.”

What does the moratorium entail?

Under this current moratorium, “landlords could not issue termination (pay-or-vacate) notices for nonpayment of rent; could not initiate eviction actions in court; and could not advance termination notices already posted.” The moratorium also covers “evictions related to leases that have expired or will expire during the coronavirus emergency, and it asks the King County Sheriff’s Office to cease execution of evictions” until further notice.

At this point in time, you cannot be threatened with eviction by your landlord, the courts, or law enforcement. As for existing eviction cases amidst the emergency that came into effect before this decision, “Seattle’s moratorium should be a defense in court.” But be warned: for future eviction hearings already schedule, “the city’s order says the court may postpone those cases to a date after the emergency” when there is a potential that Seattle’s moratorium as a defense may not be viable any longer.

The moratorium also waives late fees incurred by residents, small business and nonprofits.

What is the fineprint on this moratorium?

Other causes of eviction besides nonpayment of rent will not be covered under this moratorium. Any evictions before or assuming after this emergency will not be covered by the moratorium. “When the moratorium ends, the tenants will owe whatever debts they’ve incurred and their landlords will be allowed to evict them for non-payment.” Keep in mind, this is an evolving resolution that can change. It’s also important to keep in mind that the timeline for the moratorium is vague and subject to change. We cannot depend on the decisions of the city or the state to protect us from evictions.

To learn more about the moratorium, please refer to these links that we have cited:

Seattle’s coronavirus moratorium on residential evictions is approved, expanded by City Council (Seattle Times)

Seattle issues emergency moratorium on evictions due to COVID-19 (KOMO)

Seattle Mayor Durkan orders moratorium on rent-related residential evictions in wake of coronavirus outbreak (Seattle Times)

Inslee orders temporary stop to evictions, other help for workers and businesses in response to coronavirus (Seattle Times)

Resources

How to Strike

Sample Letters to Landlords

Sample Letter to Neighbors

Strike Declarations

WA State Covid-19 Legal Resources

FAQs About the Eviction Moratorium

Groups in the US: https://radar.squat.net/en/groups/country/US
Events in the US: https://radar.squat.net/en/events/country/US

Rent Strike
rentstrike [at] riseup [dot] net
https://rentstrike.noblogs.org/strike-declarations/

San Francisco: On rent strike against gentrification and the pandemic

An Interview with Residents of Station 40 in San Francisco

In the Mission District of San Francisco, Station 40 has served the Bay Area community as an anti-authoritarian collective living and organizing space for nearly two decades. Five years ago, their landlord attempted to evict them, only to be forced to back down by a powerful coordinated solidarity campaign. Now, Station 40 has taken the initiative to respond to the crisis currently playing out across the world, unilaterally declaring a rent strike in response to the economic precarity caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. We interviewed residents of Station 40 about the history of their project and the context and objective of their bold refusal.

What is Station 40?

Station 40 is a 17-year-old collective living space that has seen hundreds of residents and thousands of guests and many iterations over the years. This space has hosted numerous and diverse events, housed countless people, served food to the masses, beat the odds on everything from infestations to evictions. We’ve been a hub for organizing Mutual Aid workshops, healing pop-ups, memorials for fallen anarchists, revels, book releases, report-backs from comrades all over the world, prisoner support projects, reading groups, benefits for more projects than we can count. Food Not Bombs cooked here weekly for the better part of 15 years. Communication infrastructure like Indymedia and Signal have their roots here.

We hope to continue this ever-developing work, most recently bringing a focus of spirituality to the preexisting anarchy of Station 40 and our block in general. This space has been a means for us to continue to afford to live and fight in a city where that is increasingly miraculous.


A protest against gentrification in the Mission district on January 1, 2014.

Five years ago, people mobilized to defend Station 40 against eviction driven by gentrification in the Mission district of San Francisco. What factors and strategies were essential to your victory at that time? Did you learn anything important from it?

At the time, there was a large push for development in San Francisco. In response to the influx of venture capitalists and start-up companies, our landlords were looking for quick capital by selling their constellation of properties for a fast payout. The “Monster of the Mission”—a giant box of luxury housing not unlike the other developments that were popping up—was supposed to be erected across the street; property prices were skyrocketing.

We had a pro bono lawyer who helped us, but ultimately the lawyer wanted us to settle and take the cash-for-keys so everyone would get a cut—of a payoff that could never match long-term affordable housing costs in the heart of this city. The housemates who were living together in Station 40 at that time decided to stay here instead. They employed a myriad of tactics, such as calling on the friends of Station 40 from around the world (an autonomous group of supporters who organized to support us), “knowing the enemy” (gathering information about our landlords via public records), holding a press conference and events and fundraisers, consulting housing militants and the local Land Trust, and coordinating with supportive independent journalists.

We demanded that the building should go into a land trust and that our residency would be secured in perpetuity. We also made it clear that we would fight by any means to stay here. Two weeks into the fight, our landlords called us wanting to make peace; this resulted in a verbal agreement to leave us alone and revisit the issue in three years.

Today, it has been five years. All this time, the housemates here have been on alert, while also choosing to maintain our quality of life by not stressing too much about potential unpredictable outcomes—particularly in light of the fact that we have already beaten an eviction before. It was just recently announced that the “Monster of the Mission” is officially cancelled. Two years after our negotiated discussion date, the landlords have continued to cash their checks happily.

Until now.


A protest against gentrification in the Mission in 2015.

Here is some coverage of our fight against eviction in 2015:

Friends of Station 40 Press Conference
At 16th and Mission, collective housing must go — but tech offices can stay?
Tenants Fight Longtime Neighborhood Landlord at 16th and Mission
Housing collective avoids eviction from Mission district home

Why did you decide to go on strike this time?

Coronavirus first began getting traction around these parts via memes, fleeting stories from news sources, and whispers from friends of friends in social services. We began listening to the whispers early and prepared as much as possible. It was less than a week later when news from Italy started coming in, travel bans were put in place, and—most notably—the toilet paper was gone.

Within a couple more days, all events were canceled, bars and restaurants had closed, and a soft lockdown quarantine was underway. At that point, 90% of the house had either lost work entirely or had their hours cut significantly. Meanwhile, the other 10% is now being asked to work twice as hard in social services to help maneuver through this crisis—but they are not getting paid any more for their extra efforts. This crisis has shined a glaring light on the injustices relating to housing inequality, the absence of affordable medical care, the astronomical costs of rent in the Bay Area, and the ways that capitalism robs us of our time, energy, and quality of life.

When this situation became clear, there was no other choice but to declare a rent strike. Trying to hustle during a mandatory shut-in not only puts us in danger but also endangers others who are more vulnerable.

However, this opens a larger question. Some projections say that after several weeks of this shutdown (though it may be longer), there will be no way to go back to “business as usual.” As anarchists, as a collective, we have to imagine what could be next and to do what it takes to be a part of building that new reality. Getting free from rent (which is to say, theft) and debt amid a full-blown pandemic crisis seemed like the best possible way to start. We believe that the simple tactics of refusal (rent strike, sick-outs, redistribution of resources, mutual aid) are essential to getting through this situation. We hope the rent strike spreads. We have the best chance of survival and victory together.

What is your vision of how we should respond to the pandemic and the social, political, and economic crisis accompanying it? What is the worst-case scenario for how this could pan out? What is the best case scenario?

It seems that the best possible answer to the first question is that we need to find balance. We must find a balance between caring for ourselves and understanding what forms of mutual aid we have to share. We are being forced into fear, separation, and the dismay of confronting feelings of scarcity and a pandemic we can’t cure. The greatest strength of our house and our community has always been our connections based in trust. When you have community that you’re willing to show up for, that you can trust will show up for you, there is a sense—a faith—that everything can be OK. In times like these, hope and faith can be among the few things that keep us alive.

The easiest things to imagine right now are worst-case scenarios, overrun hospitals, the National Guard being flown in to violently enforce mandatory lockdowns, countless deaths caused by handshakes and coughs, being unable to work or connect with community for the unforeseeable future, all-out dystopian biopolitical authoritarianism.

But for us, it’s more interesting and exciting to think about what the best-case scenarios might be—the moments of imagination and creation—like a caterpillar dissolving in its cocoon, imagining itself into a butterfly. Imagine a world entirely without rent, in which people would have more time and space to envision and practice the things they love, the things that benefit them and their community alike. Imagine there being zero homelessness in the world because we took the ample empty housing currently available and gave it to houseless people, rather than letting those spaces sit vacant while real estate speculators wait to try to sell them to the highest bidder. How about not having to work 40 to 70 hours a week as a capitalist cog, making money for rich people who don’t care about whether we live or die?

Imagine no one having crippling debt. Imagine there being free medical care and food for all, instead of us having to spend all our money funding colonization and murder worldwide. How wonderful would it be if the people took the streets, gathered together to dance, break bread, practice ritual… honestly, the possibilities are endless. I imagine a healthier population that respects the earth and all living beings, giving the land back to indigenous stewards, reparations for all enslaved peoples, the end of incarceration and the entire military-industrial complex.

But we have to start somewhere. A widespread rent strike seems like as good a place as any.

For our part, we would like our housing to be secure in perpetuity—whether through a land trust or via other communal means. We think now is the time to push for that.

Appendix I: Communiqué about the Rent Strike, March 16, 2020

Dear friends of Station 40,

We decided tonight that we’re going on rent strike. The urgency of the moment demands decisive and collective action. We are doing this to protect and care for ourselves and our community. Now more than ever, we refuse debt and we refuse to be exploited. We will not shoulder this burden for the capitalists. Five years ago, we defeated our landlord’s attempt to evict us. We won because of the the solidarity of our neighbors and our friends around the world. We are once again calling on that network. Our collective feels prepared for the shelter-in-place that begins at midnight throughout the bay area. The most meaningful act of solidarity for us in this moment is for everyone to go on strike together. We will have your back, as we know you will have ours. Rest, pray, take care of each other.

Everything for everyone!

The residents of Station 40.

Appendix II: Communiqué from the Anti-Eviction Campaign, March 2015

Station 40 Tenants Fight Eviction of Their Home and Propose “Win-Win” Land Trust Solution

About a week ago, we received eviction papers (an unlawful detainer) from our landlords, Ahuva, Emanuel, and Barak Jolish. Their legal documents aim to displace the dozen of us tenants from our affordable, eleven-year-old home, Station 40, located at 3030B 16th Street. It is no coincidence that Station 40 is being evicted on the same intersection as the hotly contested proposed development by Maximus Real Estate Partners of a 350-unit luxury apartment building in what is a predominantly working-class neighborhood.

For over a decade, Station 40 has been home to anarchists, queer and transgender refugees, broke people, veterans against war, those healing from the prison system, lifelong San Franciscans, immigrants, people with disabilities, and those who were previously homeless. Most of us work in the neighborhood in various parts of the service industry, cooking and educating, in Rainbow Grocery Co-op and other grocery stores and thrift shops. We’ve hosted and/or organized hundreds of anticapitalist-oriented events, including fund-raisers, critical discussions, film screenings and performances, assemblies, book releases, art shows and workshops, and indie media projects, contributing to the rebel spirit of the Bay Area. Station 40 is also host to the weekly Thursday Food Not Bombs, sharing free home-cooked meals on the BART Plaza with those who are increasingly being brutally disappeared from 16th and Mission.

Although the Jolish family had previously stated their intentions many times to sell our building, they have refused a viable proposal presented by the Station 40 collective, San Francisco Community Land Trust, and Mission Economic Development Agency to sell their property to the land trust, in what would be a win-win situation for the property owners, current tenants, and Mission community at large.

The Mission has already seen many evictions, and much resistance to them. Benito Santiago won his fight to stay in his home, which is now owned by the SF Land Trust. Patricia Kerman and Tom Rapp also won their eviction case against their landlord, but still struggle courageously to stay in their home. We have now been served eviction papers, too. Our turn has come, and we don’t intend to make it easy for our landlords.

In the context of the rapid development and displacement in our neighborhood and on our corner, our own eviction comes as no surprise. When the proposed Maximus luxury apartments were announced, we all knew that we’d be next. If we were surprised, it was only with how quickly it happened. Within a week of that announcement, the Jolish family had already begun talking about getting us out. Ahuva Jolish repeated the now all too common refrain of “wanting to get out of the business”—a phrase that tenants throughout the city have come to dread as a signal for a brutal wave of eviction and redevelopment.

Our position in this has remained the same: if the Jolish family wishes to sell this building, they should sell it to the San Francisco Community Land Trust—an option that would allow them to sell at a more than fair price and allows us to stay, still with affordable rents, while also keeping many of the other struggling neighbors in place. The offer from the land trust would make it possible to maintain and even create more housing for working-class and struggling people—in perpetuity. As soon as this offer was on the table, however, our landlords changed their tune. They now insist that they do not want to sell our building. This is a half-truth—in other words, a lie. Our home is sandwiched between two adjacent properties owned by the Jolish family and their business partners, Ruth and Oded Schwartz. They do not want to sell this individual building to the Land Trust, because they want to sell all three buildings, as a package, to a developer. If sold together, the properties have (to use a disgusting term) added “tear-down value.”

In their current attempt to evict us, Ahuva and Emanuel Jolish use the false justification that we are in violation of a commercial lease by living in our home. Furthermore, they claim that they have had no knowledge we’ve been residents here. This is yet another lie. We have lived here for over eleven years, it is zoned for residential use, and we therefore have all the just cause protections afforded to tenants, and Ahuva and her family know all this.

The truth is that the Jolish family stands to make millions off the fact that 16th and Mission along with San Francisco as a whole are being flipped for the benefit of the rich, while devastating those who have called this place their home for decades. The Plaza 16 Coalition, which Station 40 is also a member of, likes to call the Maximus project “the monster in the Mission.” Behind this monster, we see many intertwining monsters—capitalism and white supremacy, to name just two.

Tragically we’ve seen developers like Maximus Real Estate Partners and their shadowy peons from the “Clean Up the Plaza” campaign look at the community at 16th and Mission as nothing more than a barrier to their riches. In 2013, we started to see Clean Up the Plaza placards everywhere. This was strange since no one seemed to know who was behind the campaign or what its agenda was. It soon became clear when Maximus announced its intention to build a 350-unit luxury apartment building that would take out a whole corner of businesses, a plaza used by hundreds of poor—mostly black and Latino people—and cast an ominous shadow over the playground of nearby Marshall Elementary. It turns out that one of the political consultants for Maximus, Jack Davis, is one of the main organizers of the Clean Up the Plaza scheme. Then the police occupation of the plaza began. Day and night, SFPD menaced over those who kick it in the plaza, such as immigrants, SRO residents and people without homes, addicts, working people, multigenerational families, and outcasts of all stripes. We watched from our windows across the street in horror as more and more of these people were targeted, criminalized, and disappeared.

The insidious power plays used to displace people along with their culture at 16th and Mission are happening throughout the Mission District, Bay Area, and in many cities nationwide. There’s first the most obvious issue: evictions. Evictions come in the form of lawsuits where losing means potentially being forced to pay for your own attorney and your landlord’s attorney (who is likely getting paid $300 or much more per hour). This process takes months, and necessitates that you are able to go to meetings with lawyers and attend several court dates during work hours, among numerous other tasks that become a full-time job. Everyday people, the very people who make up the heart and soul of San Francisco cannot compete with this apparatus that is set up to work against them. The property “rights” of millionaires trump the basic needs of the rest of us to simply live.

Then there’s the police state. Not only will the police come and literally force you from your home if you refuse to leave, but they also contribute to the project of gentrification by disappearing working-class and poor black and brown residents. In a city of 6 percent black residents (in 1980 it was 13 percent), the SF County Jail is made up of 56 percent black prisoners. To paint the picture in even more stark terms, in the last year SFPD has murdered Alex Nieto, O’Shaine Evans, Matthew Hoffman, and just days ago, Amilcar Perez-Lopez. These men, three men of color, and Hoffman, a poor man struggling with his mental health, represent the demographics of the folks who are being lost right now in San Francisco.

We gotta say it: the phenomena of rampant police murders, the banishment of thousands of longtime residents from city centers, all those forced to live on the streets, and the increasing number of poor people getting warehoused in jails and prisons—2.5 million people nationwide—signals that our society condones state-sponsored ethnic cleansing that targets black and brown residents.

Adriana Camarena of the Justice for Alex Nieto organization pointed out in a recent demonstration that the new Condo “Vida” should really be named “Muerte” because that’s what condos represent to the people who have lived here for decades. Everyone knows that the people who move into these new developments are quick to call the cops on their Latino neighbors (like Alex) and say that the neighborhood is being improved as Latino residents get forced from their homes. Meanwhile, they gloat about how great it is that they live in a neighborhood with so much culture and taquerias on every block.

All this is happening while mysterious fires are destroying the homes of working-class people throughout the Mission District, leaving the next-door condos completely intact, and the city moves on plans to build an even bigger jail to replace the one at 850 Bryant.

We know that the eviction of our space is a stepping-stone toward the eviction and demolition of this entire block. As of yet, the Jolish family has made no offer that we could accept and still hold our heads high. We want to maintain, defend, and build collective, autonomous, and working-class space in this neighborhood. We cannot accept any offers that do not make that possible. Even if we were made such an offer, we do not conceive of winning in solely individual terms. The choice to stay and fight is also a choice to fight for this neighborhood as a whole. We want to stay, but we also want everyone else to stay as well.

We draw inspiration from all who are fighting for their lives and a place to live them: the indigenous people all over this continent who are occupying their sacred places to resist development; the squatters in the deindustrialized urban centers of the Midwest who are building homes amid the ruins; those in Athens and Barcelona who take to the streets in reaction to the evictions of long-standing occupied social centers; the Kurdish and international fighters in Kobane who have used all means to defend against fascist occupation; the fighters in Ferguson who have used similar means to resist the police occupation of their streets as well; and especially everyone in this neighborhood who has already stood up and refused to be moved now and in the past.

We believe that by fighting together, we can jointly hold back the system of death and erasure. We are infinitely grateful for all the solidarity we have already received; because of it we are still here. We’re asking for your continued support because we want to stay put in our home and in this neighborhood for many years to come.

The simple truth that the Jolish family continues to deny is also our greatest strength: this is our home. This is our home and we are going to fight tooth and nail for it. We are not millionaires trying to add a few more million to the pile. We are working class people, who against all odds, have built a home here. Having something to fight for makes us strong.

Groups in the US: https://radar.squat.net/en/groups/country/US
Events in the US: https://radar.squat.net/en/events/country/US

CrimethInc https://crimethinc.com/2020/03/19/on-rent-strike-against-gentrification-and-the-pandemic-an-interview-with-residents-of-station-40-in-san-francisco

USA: Rent strike declarations

Across the country some have already declared that they will refuse to pay rent on April first. Here are some of their declarations.

Station 40 (San Francisco)

Dear friends of Station 40,
We decided tonight that we’re going on rent strike. The urgency of the moment demands decisive and collective action. We are doing this to protect and care for ourselves and our community. Now more than ever, we refuse debt and we refuse to be exploited. We will not shoulder this burden for the capitalists. Five years ago, we defeated our landlord’s attempt to evict us. We won because of the the solidarity of our neighbors and our friends around the world. We are once again calling on that network. Our collective feels prepared for the shelter-in-place that begins at midnight throughout the bay area. The most meaningful act of solidarity for us in this moment is for everyone to go on strike together. We will have your back, as we know you will have ours. Rest, pray, take care of each other.

Everything for everyone!
The residents of Station 40.

Read an interview with residents of Station 40 about their decision to go on rent strike

Fortnight Bar (Providence, RI)

As everyone is surely more than aware, we are now in a moment of “self-isolation” and “social distancing” with a more formal lockdown very likely on the way. These measures, while socially necessary to prevent the spread of the disease, have devastating economic consequences which disproportionately affect low-income families, precarious workers, and other disenfranchised members of our community.
Some voices are now calling for suspension of rent and mortgage payments during this period. In the first instance we would like to add our voice to that call.
Beyond this however, we, as anarchists, believe that the first and essential tool of change is not government fiat and lobbying, but rather direct action taken by regular people to make the changes we want to see. As such we add to the call for such a suspension with a call for a rent and mortgage *strike* during the crisis. We think that the first step to changing the rules right now is collective refusal.
We are calling on everyone—individuals, business, non-profits, and any other entity that has rent or mortgage obligations—not only to withhold payments, but to publicly commit to doing so. While the world grinds to a halt, we refuse to continue to dutifully pay crippling amounts for basic needs. This is evil in the best of times; this crisis highlights its banality as well as its brutality. When it has become impossible for so many of us to work, there is no alternative except to stand together and say: Rent Strike Now! Mortgage Strike Now!
This means: do not pay your next rent or mortgage payment. Instead, send a message that you will not be paying (check back for form letters to banks and landlords). This means repost this message and image. This means sign on to the rent/mortgage strike commitment form (link in bio). It’s particularly important for people who are financially secure and able to pay their rent or mortgage to show solidarity with those who are unable to at the moment by not paying. This is how we create the pressure to make this strike effective.

Mac Properties Tenants (Chicago, IL)

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, a group of Mac Properties tenants are asking for the cancellation of April rents, and they are threatening to begin a rent strike if the company does not comply.
“Many of us are students, many of us are workers, and we depend on our work to pay our rents,” one tenant and organizer of the action, who asked to remain anonymous, told the Herald. “We’re not gonna be able to (pay), so we’re trying to get Mac to cancel rent for the month of April.”
The organizer said that the demands originated from a group of Mac tenants living in a couple of different buildings, and that “several dozen” people are involved. At the moment, they are calling the Mac offices, 1364 E. 53rd St., and demanding that rents be canceled — according to the organizer, the property management company has told them that there is “not even a consideration to do so.”
“So far the response has been a refusal,” they said. “It shows a real callousness that they won’t even consider our proposal, which is only in line with what folks are literally able to pay.”

Groups in the US: https://radar.squat.net/en/groups/country/US
Events in the US: https://radar.squat.net/en/events/country/US

Rent Strike
rentstrike [at] riseup [dot] net
https://rentstrike.noblogs.org/strike-declarations/

Los Angeles: A dozen vacant homes reclaimed by unhoused tenants as calls for rent strike grow across US

On Saturday, March 14th, a group of supporters mobilized to defend several families, who launched an occupation of a two-bedroom bungalow in the El Sereno neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. Calling themselves “Reclaimers,” these new residents are demanding that housing owned by the California Department of Transportation or Caltrans, which for decades has laid vacant, be used to house the houseless in the face of the growing COVID-19 outbreak and continuing housing crisis. The group is inspired in part by Moms 4 Housing in Oakland, California, who led a successful housing occupation in January.

Moving into the home was: [Martha] Escudero and her family moved into the house with Ruby Gordillo, 33, and Gordillo’s three children. The Gordillos had been living in a small studio in Pico-Union. Joining the two families in the El Sereno home is Benito Flores, 64, a welder who had been living in his van.

According to Los Angeles Daily News:

One-by-one, the activists filed up a set of front steps in an act of civil disobedience, carrying with them a small writing desk, dining chair, an ornate glass coffee table and other furniture into a two-bedroom house on Sheffield Avenue.
Among them was 33-year-old Ruby Gordillo, who carried a small pot of flowers that she set down on the coffee table. She and her three children live in a cramped, one-bedroom unit in an apartment building in the Westlake Pico-Union area, she said. But for as many days as she is able to, Gordillo plans to call this El Sereno bungalow her new home.
But in the window of the “occupied” home, a piece of paper was hung that read “self-quarantine in process,” referencing the practice recommended for people who want to stay isolated from others because they may have the novel coronavirus. No one on site appeared to have the virus; the sign was intended to echo the group’s political statement.
She is part of a group, calling themselves the Reclaimers, made up of economically precarious and homeless families and individuals.
The activists demanded that “all unused and empty state, county, city and school district buildings and properties be immediately used to house the thousands of unhoused individuals and families.” They modeled themselves after Moms 4 Housing, activists who occupied a vacant home in Oakland for two months until they were forced out by law enforcement.
And with thousands homeless in LA, “we are here to reclaim these homes,” said Benito Flores, who is also squatting in the house. “They say it is a crime to occupy these houses, but this is not a crime,” said Flores, who lives in his van. “This is justice.”

On Saturday, media reports showed supporters carrying furniture and other items into the occupied home and over the course of the next few days, according to organizers and people on the ground who spoke to It’s Going Down, the occupation has grown to include at least 12 formerly vacant, Caltrans owned properties.

The units that were occupied are part of a group of 163 homes that currently sit empty and were part of a once much larger stock of dwellings that were bought by Caltrans in the post-World War II period to make way for the construction of the 710 freeway. The project faced decades of steep opposition and in 2018, was abandoned. According to local housing activists, Caltrans has let the housing stock literally “rot,” while making it “so difficult for [those] tenants who participate in the affordable rent program that they become frustrated and leave — some [forced] into homelessness.”

As the number of occupied homes continues to grow, so does the need for people to show up and support the Reclaimers. To find out more information about the struggle, follow Reclaiming Our Homes.

Meanwhile, there are increasing calls for a rent strike in the face of the economic meltdown caused by the exploding coronavirus pandemic. In working-class Mission District of San Francisco, the long running anarchist housing collective Station 40, which five years ago was successful in beating back their eviction, has declared a rent strike starting April 1st as has Fortnight, a radical, autonomous bar in Providence, Rhode Island.

In Chicago, tenants renting from Mac Properties have demanded the cancellation of April’s rent and have threatened a rent strike. As the Hyde Park Herald reported:
“Many of us are students, many of us are workers, and we depend on our work to pay our rents,” one tenant and organizer of the action, who asked to remain anonymous, told the Herald. “We’re not gonna be able to (pay), so we’re trying to get Mac to cancel rent for the month of April.”
The organizer said that the demands originated from a group of Mac tenants living in a couple of different buildings, and that “several dozen” people are involved. At the moment, they are calling the Mac offices, 1364 E. 53rd St., and demanding that rents be canceled — according to the organizer, the property management company has told them that there is “not even a consideration to do so.”
Meanwhile, the organizer in Hyde Park says the time for transformative political action is now. “If the people do nothing and they don’t organize and build power we’ll see the same disaster capitalism that we saw after Hurricane Maria,” said the organizer.
“Large corporations and entrenched power are only gonna become more entrenched. There’s a vision that says we can use this as an opportunity …. I think it’s safe to say that in the coming weeks and months we’re going to see a massive amount of government intervention into the economy. The question is what kind of intervention (we) want.”

Calls for a rent strikes in other states have also gone viral and support is growing for an international rent strike on April 1st, while hubs and infrastructure are being set up in cities like Seattle, WA.

Groups in the US: https://radar.squat.net/en/groups/country/US
Events in the US: https://radar.squat.net/en/events/country/US

It’s Going Down https://itsgoingdown.org/a-dozen-vacant-homes-reclaimed-by-unhoused-tenants-in-la-as-calls-for-rent-strike-grow-across-us/

Brighton: Squatted Night Shelter update

Hello friends,
We’re sorry for being so quiet lately. In case you were wondering, we wanted to let you know that this project is still going. We currently have a building where people are being housed, although, for now at least, we are keeping its location private for the safety of those of us who live there and in the hope of keeping the building for longer.

We are really thankful that, due to your support, we’ve been able to move buildings when we have needed to and keep people housed. There is so much uncertainty at the moment. Many of us are worried about our safety and the safety of people we love, so it means a lot to have somewhere for people to live.
When we’re all being told to #StayHome, it’s important to remember that for so many people that just isn’t a possibility. There are hundreds and thousands of homeless people in the UK. Every night, many of them sleep on the streets, where their health is already at serious risk. Covid-19 could be deadly to people who have no way to protect themselves or to self-isolate.
We can’t trust the state to look after us, particularly the most vulnerable people in our communities. All we have is each other and solidarity is everything. Please remember that over the coming weeks.
If you haven’t already, join your local mutual aid group and see what you can do to help.
Let’s keep looking for ways to support each other

DIY Kodak Collective

London: Eviction Of The Pie ‘N’ Mash Squat Cafe – We Must Push For No Evictions In This Crisis!

As I write this, I should have actually been emailing another article to the Freedom editorial team, announcing the shutdown of the Pie ‘n’ Mash Autonomous Social Cafe, and its rebirth as the Pie ‘n’ Mash Mutual Aid Centre (38-40 Deptford High St).

Instead, I write this from the lounge of a neighbouring squat, having been woken up by High Court bailiffs at 7am this morning. The day that we were to become the hub for sanitation of donations and distribution in the Deptford area, we were torn from our home, and left scrambling for our possessions. This despite a warning on the door that people in the building were attempting to self-isolate for the public safety – well-prepared bailiffs ascending the stairs kitted out in medical masks and rubber gloves.

Running with the momentum of the anarchist-instigated mutual aid groups that have blossomed in the South-East of London (and indeed across the country), a plan was set to set up the cafe as a centre for donations, which could then be sanitised, and those involved in assisting people who are self-isolating to be able to collect and clean gear before distributing. Recognising that the crona will affect the poorest the hardest, the plan was to also be able to provide basic household items to those who can least afford to ride out this wave.

Thankfully many people in the area have provided a variety of leads in terms of solving the problem, legal spaces that could be attained to effect the idea of the Mutual Aid Centre. We hope to see the creation of such a project in the coming days, no eviction will stop us, and we are just so inspired to see people intent on continuing the idea. Crisis brings out the anarchist in so many.

Despite walking away with high-spirits, the reality is that the eviction of the Pie ‘n’ Mash cafe is a tragedy for so many. We must see it as a call to resist, to really rise to the occasion and fight to protect all of our spaces, from our social centres to our homes. We must push for no evictions, whoever it is, from the squatter to the renter. If mortgage owners can catch a break, why should the oppressed be any different. Of course we do not expect the government to listen, or the capital-owning class. We must organise ourselves, build affinity with our friends and neighbours, protect each other and resist all evictions. Coordinate rent strikes and build eviction resistance networks. We must fight back against the crushing repression and extra financial burden that this situation is placing us all in.

The Pie ‘n’ Mash Autonomous Social Cafe ran for over 5 months, in 4 different buildings on the Deptford High St. The idea for a truly community-run space was birthed from the destruction of the Tidemill Garden at the beginning of 2019. It provided thousands of free cups of tea and coffee for the regular punters, a place where no-one was turned away for being poor or homeless, or having issues. Many activities and workshops also took place in the cafe, and the politics shone through without it being overtly ‘political’. Many hours were spent there, and every one worth spending. The Mutual Aid Centre may not take place in a squat necessarily, but the legacy of the cafe and its community outreach will live on through that project until it is safe enough to once again open a space for everyone to participate in.

We all look forward to the return of the cafe, but we can’t afford to go to the Winchester, have a nice cold pint, and wait for all of this to blow over, so muck in, be part of an organised anarchist effort, and we can celebrate with a pint later – for now it’s probably safer to steer clear of the pubs.

Pie ‘n’ Mash Squat
squatcafe [at] riseup [dot] net
https://squ.at/r/7fnf

Groups in London: https://radar.squat.net/en/groups/city/london
Events in London: https://radar.squat.net/en/events/city/London

Groups in UK: https://radar.squat.net/en/groups/country/GB
Events in UK: https://radar.squat.net/en/events/country/GB

Freedom News: https://freedomnews.org.uk/london-eviction-of-the-pie-n-mash-squat-cafe-we-must-push-for-no-evictions-in-this-crisis/

Rotterdam : 6 squats evicted in the Tweebosbuurt

In the early morning of the 6th of March, residents of the Tweebosbuurt in Rotterdam were shaken awake by police forces. The entire neighbourhood was locked down for a militarized eviction of 6 squats. 6 houses of which the residents were put on the street with their right to a home.
Beyond these symbolic houses, which brought some life back into the emptying neighbourhood, it’s all residents of the Tweebosbuurt that are the target here. Since several months, life in the area has turned into a more joyful reality again, in which residents’ resignation in the face of the demolition of their neighbourhood was seeping away. The authorities have thus decided to destroy these sparkles of hope: no squats, no solidarity, no joy, no hope.
But let them know that the destruction of our living spaces will not suppress our desire for freedom.
Squatting goes on.

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

Indymedia: https://www.indymedia.nl/node/47579

Los Angeles: Reclaiming Our Homes

No one should be homeless when homes are sitting empty. Housing is a human right!

There are more vacant homes than people experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles. Some of these vacant properties are even owned by the state. We are taking this housing back for our community.
Impacted by the housing crisis, and feeling even more urgency in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, we are reclaiming vacant houses owned by the state to fight for housing as a human right. We the Reclaimers are calling on the city and state to immediately use all vacant properties to house people. We need all levels of government to make a massive investment in public and social housing so that everyone has a home during this housing and public health crisis.
In California, a person needs to earn $32.68 an hour to afford an average two bedroom apartment. It’s an outrage that the state and city are leaving homes and property unused when so many people need housing. We are holding them accountable and demanding immediate action.

Reclaim Our Homes is organizing a fundraiser with this statement:

Governor Gavin Newsom,

This is to notify you that we, Reclaimers, members of Reclaiming Our Homes, less than an hour ago, have peacefully moved into a State-owned empty house in Los Angeles on the now defunct 710 corridor. We, the Reclaimers, are homeless families that include children as young as 9 months old and elders over 70 that have been living in cars and encampments. We ask that you quickly call Caltrans officials and direct them not to use violence or arrest to resolve this homeless issue.

As you should know, over the last 30 years, Caltrans has preferred to follow an unwritten policy of depopulating the corridor using various means such as; harassment, intimidation, no cause evictions, neglect and rent raises at the rate of 10% every six months to evict tenants. This State Agency, now under your authority, would rather have empty houses than tenants who have been demanding their rights. The result is that over 200 out of 500 original rentals are now empty. This particular State Agency has been part of creating the housing crisis. We instead are occupying several houses, in accordance to your spoken and written policy.

And this is not just about the Caltrans properties. Up and down the state, there is unused public land and property while tens of thousands sleep on our streets each night. We, Reclaimers, demand that all unused and empty State, County, City and School District buildings and properties be immediately used to house the thousands of homeless individuals and families.

The present coronavirus is bringing out the best and worse in us all. It is common knowledge that the public is safer if people have the ability to self-quarantine and safely self-isolate in a home. Also, the State of Michigan is correct in making sure that all families have running water and have reversed a long-time policy of turning off water for non-payment. We ask that you, as Governor, direct Caltrans to allow the new families to immediately turn on their utilities. Heat and electricity are also essential to the well being of the Reclaimers.

Lastly, it is important that you take direct authority over this matter because the Reclaimers have broad support from a community that is fed up with the housing crisis that has millions in California struggling every day just to keep a roof over their heads. In addition to demanding that all publicly-owned vacant housing and property to become homes for people who need them, NOW!, we are calling for the following:

o Housing should be homes for those who need it, not investments for Wall Street speculators.

o Housing must be recognized as a human right in our state constitution.

o We need all levels of government to make a massive investment in public and social housing so that everyone has a home.

The Reclaimers and their vast support networks are ready to help rebuild these homes and this community. However, the Reclaimers are also ready to defend what we consider ours. If the police are called by Caltrans there will potentially be hundreds of arrests, all because we are carrying out your policy in practice.

Although 1 Billion dollars is a good start that we appreciate, we all know that is not nearly sufficient. We want to thank you, in advance, for your policy on homelessness, affordable housing and for any positive intervention such as direct talks, no police violence, allowing the turning on of indispensable utilities, and immediately accepting new tenants into the Caltrans tenant rolls.

Reclaimers,

Housing is a Human Right—El Techo es Un Derecho
All Vacant Public Properties for Affordable Housing

Our Stories

Ruby Gordillo, Reclaimer: “At this new house, everything will be different. My kids will have space to play in a yard for the first time, like the one at the house I grew up in not far from here. I want to garden, and get to know my neighbors, go for walks, and be a part of this beautiful community here in El Sereno.”

Martha Escudero, Reclaimer: “I was born and raised in California mostly in the Los Angeles area and it saddens me to see the state in such a horrific housing crisis. I am a mother of two daughters and we have been in unstable housing for a year and a half. Not having a place of our own and having to move so much has affected us in a deeply emotional way.”

Benito Flores, Reclaimer: “I had to start living in a van because I couldn’t pay the rent. I think there are a lot of us in the same situation living in the streets living in their cars. And I think we should do something, we must do something. The rent is too high and salaries too low.”

Reclaiming Our Homes
reclaimingourhomes [at] gmail [dot] com
https://reclaimingourhomes.org/
Sign up to get updates on our action and how to support, sign up using the form here or text RECLAIM to (323) 214-3761

Groups in the US: https://radar.squat.net/en/groups/country/US
Events in the US: https://radar.squat.net/en/events/country/US

https://www.gofundme.com/f/reclaiming-our-homes
https:// youtu.be/eq6WqPB9224

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