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Thirty housing rights activists were arrested in Budapest

On the 19th  of January 2013, homeless activists and their allies squatted an empty building in the 7th  district of Budapest. The squatters demanded the institutionalization of a right to housing and an extensive system of social housing instead of punitive measures and overcrowded shelters. The activists were arrested and now face misdemeanor charges because of disobeying police instructions.
The IAI call for international solidarity.

“We do not leave until the government and local authorities do not take seriously mass homelessness and housing poverty” – said Jenő Keresztes, one of the homeless squatters. “We are here to raise awareness about the tens of thousands of empty buildings, where homeless people could find their home. The majority of these empty buildings are in private hands, but local authorities also have great responsibility in leaving buildings such as this one unused for years. Instead of taking care of them, they leave them to dilapidate. This building alone could serve as a home for at least 10 families – said Jutka Lakatosné, another homeless activist.

The squatters were supported by dozens of young activists forming a living chain at the entrance of the building as well as an ever-growing group of protesters on the other side of the street. The supporters were chanting slogans such as “Housing, not jails” and “Right to housing for all!”. The head of the local authority’s real estate office agency visited the house and told the protestors that the local authority has no responsibility whatsoever either about homelessness or about the abandonment of the house. Five hours later the police arrived in great numbers and arrested one by one the activists blocking the entrance of the building. The activists did not cooperate and therefore were carried by the police to the police cars. The supporting protesters first were chanting “We are with you” right by the activists. Later, the police pushed them back where they could not see the arrests anymore – but they stayed until the last one of the activists were taken away from the location and supported them with loud drumming and chanting.

“I do not have housing worthy of human dignity either, I am just temporarily allowed to stay in an otherwise empty building which does not have heating. Nonetheless I do not fight for myself alone: we would like everyone to have access to decent, affordable and healthy housing, and we want the government and the local authorities to take responsibility for this” – said László Dombovári homeless activist. In Hungary there are currently millions of people suffering from various forms of housing poverty. 10 thousand of them are living in the public spaces or shelters of Budapest. Around half million families has arrears that threaten their housing, and every fifth household gets behind with their mortgage payments due to lack of resources.

The City is for All supports the demands of the homeless activists. We have organized several marches to raise awareness about empty buildings and demand their utilization , spelled out our related policy recommendations , and protested for the codification of a right to housing and the establishment of an extensive system of social housing.  According to The City is for All, the implementation of a right to housing should include a ban on evictions without the provision of acceptable housing alternative as well as housing policies that ensure access to decent housing for everyone. Right to housing would not mean the provision of free housing by the state, but that the state establishes and maintains a system of housing policies that ensure fair access to housing for all members of the society.

Note to editors:  In The City is for All, homeless people, people struggling with housing problems and their allies work together for an egalitarian and just society. The group is based on voluntary work and provides an opportunity for homeless people to stand up for their dignity and fight for the right to housing. Homeless people play a leading role in all of our activities.

More information : www.avarosmindenkie.blog.hu

Contact : Tessza Udvarhelyi + 3620/3818996, avarosmindenkie@gmail.com

A Város Mindenkié rendszeres műsora a Muzsikus rádión minden kedden 16 és 17 óra között hallható. www.muzsikusradio.hu
A műsorok letölthetők blogunkról is: www.avarosmindenkie.blog.hu


The IAI Call for solidarity: Squatting in vacant housing is not a crime, but a legitimate action for Victims of the Real Estate Markets

Dear friends of  A Város Mindenkié,
 First of all, I would like to express the full solidarity of the International Alliance of Inhabitants with your struggles, which we also consider as our own, and to call for all activists to be freed right now!
 The squatting of vacant housing is not a crime, but a legitimate action due to the failure of states to respect the legal obligations they assumed when they  ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to protect the right to housing with appropriate policies. It is therefore a form of struggle that inhabitants’ organizations are using all over the world, a self-defense tool of the victims of the real estate markets in response to the housing and global crises caused by neoliberal policies.
 For these reasons we seek your proposals to support your claims with an international campaign of solidarity, starting with the publication and dissemination of campaign news in many languages.
 As a practical contribution to building global solidarity with local struggles, we would like to inform you that, as part of the forthcoming World Assembly of Inhabitants (WSF, Tunis, 26-30 March 2013), organized by international networks for the right to housing, we plan to hold an International Meeting for Victims of the Real Estate Markets, with the aim of uniting forces in solidarity to confront economic housing insecurity, that is, evictions, foreclosures, real estate scams etc.
 This activity will be relevant not only for our discussions and agreements but also, perhaps most importantly, because it supports the subsequent development of joint mobilizations leading to new proposals, in which the social organizations of each country will be the main actors, supported by international solidarity.
 In light of this, and considering your commitments and achievements in this area, as well as your roots in the community, We hope we can count on your participation!
 Looking forward to your comments: Housing, not jails! Housing rights for all! and ciao in solidarity.

 Cesare Ottolini
 IAI Coordinator

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