Article: Call for the Housing Action Day

The Housing Action Day 2022 took place on the 26th and 27th of March 2022

For the third time, a Housing Action Day took place this year. We – the European Action Coalition for the right to housing and to the city (EAC), are a network of 31 grassroots organizations from 19 european countries that was founded in 2013.

Last year, on the Housing Action Day 2021, 75 actions took place in 68 cities []. Despite the pandemic and lockdown measures, a european popular movement coordinated to express its legitimate demands for the right to housing and to the city.

Housing is at the center of all major social issues of our times. It is related to public health, climate change, and to social- racial- and gender-inequalities in many ways. This extends to the right to public space (right to access and right to decide its transformation) in the cities and in rural areas. In recent years, social movements focusing on the right to housing, to the city, and more globally to land, consider that democratic processes of decisions should be at the core of space transformation and accessibility. This mobilization entails a huge variety of forms of action which have delivered many concrete successes. The massive demand of Berliners to expropriate big landlords, socialize the housing stock and fight financialization is a good example.

And yet, as social divisions and the redistribution of wealth from the bottom to the top is erratically growing, people suffer cuts in their income or are more and more deprived of decent working opportunities and conditions. The cost of living continues to increase unabated together with the skyrocketing energy costs. Housing costs are permanently increasing (rents and acquisition), without any real political response. Mass privatization and neoliberal policies that go on since the past decades continue to be a real attack to human dignity. Governments all over Europe continue favoring investors’ profits over basic human rights. We cannot stay silent!

Despite the crisis exacerbated by the pandemic, the situation has worsened. The #stayhome campaign has revealed a level of cynicism that is hard to accept. The symptoms we observe might be different in our regions and so does the focus of our struggles. But the causes are the same: it is private property, it is lobby infiltrated politics, it is the growing inequality. In short, it is capitalism. 2021 was just another year of evictions of tenants and small home-owners, of increasing housing costs and gentrification, of growing homelessness, of marginalization of racialized and lower-income populations, of the destruction of alternative ways of life, of land and housing privatizations, of land-grabbing, and the displacement of indigenous communities and of dull city-planning only benefitting capital.

The 31st of March marks the end of the winter moratorium on evictions in several European countries. But this year it is also the date of an eventual eviction of the Collectif Zone Neutre Occupation KBC in Brussels, an occupied former bank building just a few hundred meters away from the European Quarter – as well as other squats of undocumented persons. The Collectif Zone Neutre Occupation KBC is now housing about 200 people with different precarious legal situations, fighting for both their right to housing and to stay and work in Belgium. This case perfectly represents the current state of affairs by connecting the struggles for the freedom of movement and the freedom to stay. We deeply condemn this planned eviction and we are in full solidarity with the collective. Especially in the shadow of the worldwide emerging far-right movements, we need to unite our struggles with all people fighting against all kinds of systemic injustices.

We demand :
– A variety of alternative housing models free of market forces that would enable a world without evictions;
– A socialized ownership of housing and land;
– Requisition of vacant buildings and homelessness to completely diminish;
– The resources to build high quality and climate-neutral housing that benefits the people and not the newly rising “green” industry;
– A radical planning praxis from below. No unnecessary demolitions.
– A borderless right to movement, housing, and public space;

We want the systemic change that enables all this.