Utrecht. Netherlands. A squat in the city of Utrecht at Reactorweg in the district of Lage Weide is being threatened with eviction.
Originally published by Squat Net.
The reason? The Utrechts Studenten Corps (Utrecht Student Association, USC from here), a Fraternity, wants to throw its 77th annual “lustre” party in the 3 squatted buildings that house 25 people and numerous social, cultural, and political initiatives. To make such an eviction during the COVID-pandemic and a housing crisis in Utrecht, the students are essentially helping the owner evict the 25 squatters, putting them on the streets.
But we still have hope! If we manage to raise sufficient funding we can initiate a higher appeal, in which other judges will revise the case.
A court ruling last week decided that the people living at the Reactorweg in Utrecht will be evicted to facilitate a week-long party organized by the USC.
The living groups think it is unacceptable that a student party gets precedence over their right to proper and affordable housing. Consequently, the living groups went to court to prevent this from happening. “The people living here are very diverse. Some live here as there are no alternatives, others live here more out of ideological reasons.” In the court case, the squatters emphasized the urgency of the case and said they will be homeless if the eviction continues. “Some have applied for social housing a decade ago and still can’t find proper housing,” one of the defendants explained.
Utrecht knows there is great housing crisis. Over the last decade, the municipality has not succeeded in providing or facilitating sufficient, affordable housing. Rather, they choose to demolish already existing neigbourhoods in order to make place for expensive housing. Therefore, it is crude to see that the USC chooses the house of 25 people to throw their party, while In Lage Weide specifically one out of five offices buildings are vacant.² Odds are high that the buildings will be left vacant or demolished after the party. And the owner does not have any building plans prepared. The living group believes it is the goal of the owner, Vastgoedbedrijf de Waal BV, to evict them by means of the USC.
Other members of the living group explain that the housing market does not provide enough alternatives in which people can experiment with creative forms of communal living and working. “My ideal way of life will never be realized in a casual house,” one of the defendants explained. In the court case, they showed declarations of support from neighbours to prove the social value they have in the area.
The squatters seriously doubt whether the student party can take place in the first place, as the Netherlands are still subject to extensive and strict corona measures. The fact that the USC did not yet even apply for the necessary permits, while the municipality already has to work through a big pile of applications, says enough about the precariousness of the event, explained the lawyer.
² Source: Utrecht-monitor
One of the inhabitants explains about the life at the Reactorweg:
“We are always open to people that have their own ideas about how to organize and arrange the spaces in this place; people can always come by if they are in need or want to be involved in ongoing projects. Before Corona broke out, we cooked large dinners for donation basis (called eetcafe) for acquaintances and neighbours, using saved food or vegetables from our own garden. We also have a free shop where people can find or donate clothing, books and other objects, plus we have a music room, we organize yoga lessons and language classes. People who have become homeless can (and have) temporarily stay(ed) at our place. In this way we help them finding another place to live. In short, there is always something to do or build and we have created a very nice space for experimental, social, cultural, and political initiatives.”
So here you have it: On one side is the USC, that wants to throw a week-long party in a building in Lage Weide; and on the other side, the 25 inhabitants, organizing a variety of social, cultural, and political initiatives.
What can you do for us?
As a growing group of people have taken a stance against the eviction of the Reactorweg living groups, the groups have decided to take the fight to the next level: higher appeal. They have created this page to share their side of the story and raise money for the upcoming court cases. This is what you can do to help us:
1. Donate: https://www.gofundme.com/f/red-Utrechts-kraakpand-reactorweg
2. Share this page.
a. If you choose to donate € 10 or more you will receive a creative digital thank you!
b. If you choose to donate € 20 or more you will be invited for nice and cozy dinner (which will be organized within the possibilities of the covid regulations)
c. If you choose to donate € 100 or more you will be able to get an exclusive ride in the Reactor Cabri-yolo! (See the picture!)
d. If you choose to donate € 500 or more you can participate in the lottery during the great dinner, in which you will win a great price guaranteed!
3. Send a message to the municipality expressing that you are against the eviction. You can do this by following this link. On the page, you can write a text as you want or you can choose to copy/paste this example:
Choose: “Stuur uw vraag, opmerking of idee”
– Example text –
Title: Stop the eviction of the Reactorweg!
Text: Stop the eviction of the living group living at the Reactorweg in Lage Weide. The squat will be evicted for a party organized by the USC. This means that these people will be made homeless for students that want to party for a mere week. I support the living groups and their social, cultural, and political organizing. Stop the eviction! Evictions are not Utrechts!
Let’s start with the good news: if we win the court case, all donations will be returned to the donators (minus the transaction costs charged by the platform)!
However, if we lose the cases this means we will have to pay all the costs, including the costs of the state’s lawyers. As the Reactorweg consists of multiple buildings and groups, there are two separate court cases. The costs of the first court case have already been covered by one living group. For the second court case and the higher appeal in the first court case, we will need more money. Below we will explain how the costs are divided:
1st Court case
Last week the court case for the eviction of the office buildings took place. The judge decided that the living group’s housing rights are less important than the owner’s right to facilitate a student party in times of a COVID-pandemic. The complete court ruling can be read here (and can easily be translated on Google).
The costs of the first case: € 1683,-, which has already been covered by one living group.
2nd Court case: Higher appeal
The living group has decided to take on the battle and fight the power of the owner, a real estate speculator, in a higher appeal. The date for the higher appeal has yet to be decided.
The costs for the higher appeal have been estimated to be € 2600,- (goal #1)
3rd Court case
On the 12th of May another court case will take place. In this court case the judge will decide on the eviction of the terrain where people live, including a warehouse.
The costs for the second court case will be € 1683,- (goal #2)
Do you want to help us in another way? The living group is very open to ideas! Don’t hesitate to contact us.
3542AD Utrecht, The Netherlands