The housing and economic crisis of 2008 sparked a direct action housing defense movement that has taken off throughout Europe and the US – with each inspiring the other, sharing tactics and information. Spain is the most well known with the Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca (PAH), described by participants below, but many other countries also have strong movements, and each, while ‘new’, have roots in prior organizing.
There is a point at which everyone breaks, and Miranda has already exceeded it. Living on a limited income and with pets that she could never abandon, Miranda moved into her former apartment with some reservations. There was clear damage inside, all of which she was repeatedly reassured that it would be taken care of quickly. When she was given a pile of documents to sign no red flags came up from her new landlord, Kurt, telling her that she was signing in agreement with a walk-through that had never happened.
Over the past few years, there has been a push to criminalize squatting across Western Europe. But in a time of increasing economic instability, can governments succeed in suppressing squatting? What is at stake here?
This article reviews the background and contemporary context of squatting in England, beginning after the Second World War and comparing the current movement to its counterparts on mainland Europe. It touches on many stories: migrants squatting to build a life safe from fascist attacks, gay activists finding spaces in which to build up a scene, vibrant and insurgent squatted areas, single-issue campaigns occupying as a direct action tactic, and anti-capitalist groups setting up social centers. We hope this text will help those in present-day struggles to root themselves in the heritage of previous movements.
Nothing increases homelessness like income inequality. Other causes of people in the United States living without permanent shelter include a decrease in services for persons with mental health needs, less funds for agencies that provide homeless services (including places to sleep), foreclosures, domestic violence, loss of work, gentrification and the lack of availability of inexpensive single room occupancy housing, teenage runaways without resources, etc.
One learns to boat squat by randomly running into a person who happened to be boat squatting who was kind enough to let me stay on his boat for about 6 months until I got my own boat. So basically we would just go from dock to public dock to public dock, or guest docks and city marinas. We’d stay there for a week or two then move to the next dock, going back and forth, developing relationships with the people there.
The East Bay Solidarity Network formed in early 2010 after the founding organizers attended a local presentation by the Seattle Solidarity Network. We were inspired by the success they were having and refreshed by the idea of short campaigns with imminently winnable goals. We thought this approach might bring in new people to organizing and spread radical ideas. We wanted people to experience what it was like to win together, to build confidence with other working-class people in the basic idea that we can stand up to the people that exploit our labor and profit off of our basic needs.
Ari Paul has a problem with New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio’s housing plans. Sure, he admires De Blasio’s push for pre-K, his confrontation with charter supporters, his tangling with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and many of the people he’s picked to lead his administration. But when De Blasio allowed the developer of the Domino Sugar plant in Williamsburg to build taller residential towers, even in exchange for adding more affordable housing units, this was a clear reveal that de Blasio was unlikely to escape becoming just another tool of the developers — the real estate “titans are going to call the economic shots.”
Dozens of people gathered throughout the day on Tuesday, February 11th, in front of what seemed to be a derelict house at 625 23rd St, on the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Way in Oakland. At 9am, a banner was unfurled from the second floor that read “They Can’t Evict Us All.” People brought food and coffee to share with residents and other supporters, and a pleasant attitude permeated the street into the afternoon. Radicals and activists mingled with the residents and their friends who had come to support them. Sheriffs drove by during the day, but made no action to evict the house.