Residential uprising: 1 year later. What has changed?
Exactly one year ago, a coalition of more than 15 solidarity (residential) action groups organized the Woonopstand in Rotterdam. For the first time in nearly 40 years, a wave of housing protests swept across the country and the housing crisis came back on the political and social agenda. Under the motto 'Houses for people, not for profit', thousands of demonstrators came to the Afikaander Park in Rotterdam and marched across the Erasmus Bridge to the center. There was a strong message of mutual solidarity among the very diverse group that stood up for their right of residence on 17 October, which makes a large national housing movement in the Netherlands very much alive again. Even after all the police repression, we have shown that we do not allow ourselves to be divided and that solidarity is stronger than state repression.
Still, the police brutality against peaceful demonstrators cast a shadow over our protest and we seem to have reached a new low with regard to our right to demonstrate and freedom of expression in the Netherlands. Our demonstrators came for the right to adequate housing but went home with fewer rights, because they were also deprived of the right to demonstrate. Independent investigation into state violence was brushed off by the Rotterdam triangle and facts distorted and glossed over by the police. To this day we fight for independent investigation and recognition of the absurd, excessive and reprehensible police brutality.
A year later
In the meantime, we are a year further and several successes have indeed been achieved within the housing struggle and requirements have been met. Thanks in part to the efforts of the many tens of thousands of demonstrators, volunteers and action groups, the landlord levy is finally being abolished, more and more political parties are turning against temporary leases and the lack of rent protection that excludes large groups of tenants. Great results that we can claim as a joint housing movement. Yet these limited political shifts are by far not enough to turn the tide in the created housing crisis. We continue to fight for the abolition of all forms of temporary leases and demand protection of all rents.
Even with the abolition of the landlord levy, the breakdown of the social rental sector will not be stopped and more money will have to be invested in the social sector to realize decent, affordable and widely accessible public housing, because the problems are inhumane and life-size. Homelessness is still rising, as is the waiting list for social housing, and the inhumane treatment of refugees and the lack of shelter has been added to this. We stay out of the demands Housing manifest strengthen and fight for a radically different housing policy.
National coalition Residential Revolt
We did not sit still after the demonstration. Woonopstand has developed into a national coalition in which all local housing demonstrations and (residential) action groups have united. Together with this coalition, we were able to respond quickly to current events and issue widely supported statements regarding police brutality, the National Performance Agreements, the rising rents and the national budget on Budget Day. Institutions such as the association of housing corporations Aedes and the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations can no longer ignore us and have entered into discussions with us. We spoke with the Minister of Housing Hugo de Jonge about the rising rents on 1 July and the livelihoods that this threatens and made our demands for multi-year rent freezes and a stop on evictions clear to Aedes. While talking to politicians still produces few radical changes, we make no concessions to our demands and take action to get them met. Such is the campaign of Wij Weigeren de Huurverhoging this year, more widely supported and implemented than ever, many tenants have successfully refused the rent increase and we have been able to sharpen the discussion about the annual rent increases. The Bond Precaire Woonvorm also continues to fight relentlessly against the precarisation of the housing stock and has taken action against evictions on numerous occasions in the past year. Not to mention the many squatters' actions that are organized all over the country. More and more young people are taking matters into their own hands, despite stricter legislation again, and turn to squatting in order to claim their right of residence.
We will continue to support local action groups and bottom-up initiatives and are busy working on what a radically different vision of housing policy should look like. We hope to present that soon. Also the requirements of the Housing manifest we will update and eventually actions will be organized afterwards to reinforce these demands. We have proven together with you that we can change things, but we cannot do it alone. Continue to speak out for a radically different housing policy. Join our supporters or one of the local housing protests or housing action groups that fight for housing security. Long live the Residential Rebellion!
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Housing is a right. Homes for people, not for profit!