Article from the European Action Coalition for the Right to Housing and to the City
The European housing movements took back the streets. The Housing Action Days 2023 were the biggest we have ever seen !
From the 24th of March until the 2nd of April, the European Action Coalition for the right to housing and to the city (EAC) called for actions in the framework of the Housing Action Days 2023 – #HAD2023. For this 5th edition, tens of thousands of people organised demonstrations, talks, performances, gatherings, squat openings and many more actions and events all over Europe. At a time of deepening housing crises, many groups from and outside the Coalition, decided to stand together against the neoliberal institutions and policies that benefit private accumulation instead of the people. Together, we showed our strength to fight back for our rights to housing, to the city and against the illegitimate rising living costs.
Demonstrations took place in Lisbon, Porto and other cities of Portugal, Brussels, Liège and Namur, Berlin, Dublin, London, Stockholm, Athens, Bayonne, Paris and other cities all over Europe. In France, where they struggle against a criminalizing law attacking squatters and tenants, more than 12 cities organised actions and demonstrations during the HAD2023. There were occupations in Vienna (abandoned building), Brussels (undocumented people’s squat) and Dublin (National Department of Housing). There were protests and gatherings, discussions, events, political (self)education talks, movie screenings, banners hanged on bridges, etc… In some cities like Grenoble comrades were organising a whole week of activities. You can see all the 120 actions in the action map. “We didn’t expect this mind-blowing response to our call” said Péter from the communication team of the EAC, “we even got solidarity messages from the Philippines”.
“In Lisbon more than 30.000 people joined the biggest housing demonstration in decades! After some difficult years, people took the streets again to express their anger” said Rita from Habita.
“In Porto we were more than 7.000. As collectives, organisations, unions and individuals affected by the housing crisis and capitalist exploitation we got together to show our strength. It was a historical moment that we will use to keep building this collective fight!” stated members of Habitação Hoje.
“12 different cities were demonstrating on the same day in France, bringing together different movements with the same claims: decrease of housing rents and energy prices, stop evictions, stop Kasbarian law, increase of public investments for social housing. It is super promising to see how different movements and demands converge in the streets in this moment, while mobilisation against the reform of pensions is growing bigger and radicalizing.Nevertheless, the situation of tenants and homeless people has never been so bad in France. While rents increased by 3.5% and energy bills tripled during the last year, French government just voted a repressive law, hardly penalizing those who can no longer afford to pay a rent and squatters of empty buildings.
In order to be able to face the coming crises we need to be even more numerous and better organized. “explained Stela from Droit Au Logement in Paris.
“In Vienna the Housing Action Days took place together with the protests against the European Gas Conference”, added Laura from Stop Evictions Vienna, “we had some fruitful discussions with comrades from the climate justice spectrum to reinforce future collaborations of our different movements.”
In Athens, where evictions are multiplying and becoming more violent, hundreds of people gathered in front of the Supreme Court to denounce a recent decision favouring funds instead of people. “Even if there are differences between countries, the problems are big and similar concerning housing. In Greece we are often leading the sadest statistics, for example we have the highest housing costs in proportion to the income. This is why we decided also to respond to the call for Housing Action Days” said Tonia from the Unitarian Intitative Against Auctions in Athens.
“Originally, the idea of the HAD taking place in the end of March, comes from the fact that, in a few countries, it is the time when the winter-moratorium for evictions is ending. Housing struggles are diverse according to the respective situation in the different countries. This is why actions taking place are diverse too” explained Annie from the EAC. “We can see all over Europe that the atmosphere is explosive in many neighbourhoods. The skyrocketing cost of living, added to the already unbearable housing costs, makes it clear for many people that self-organization from below is necessary to change politics” concluded Yann from the facilitation team of the EAC. “Many people understand that the governmental measures to support the people are not only insufficient but they benefit the energy companies as they ensure their profits. The people also know that at some point the public debts will be followed by cuts in social policies and the private debts will cause evictions. We have learned our lessons from previous crises. The self-delegitimation of state capitalism corresponds to growing social movements”. said Eniko from Social Hosuing Now in Cluj, Romania.