Utrecht. Netherlands. On October 1, 2021, exactly 11 years after the Kraken en Leegstand (squatting and vacancy) law came into force, the buildings on the Archimedeslaan 16 were resquatted. The squatters protested against the continuing vacancy of the former student housing. Although the law should prevent vacancy, the vacancy rate has only increased since then. This while squatting and the squatting movement have been criminalized and prosecuted.
Originally published by Squat Net.
The squatters want to show that squatting is still a legitimate option in addressing and fighting the housing crisis and homelessness. Indeed, squatting still serves as an effective tool against speculators and housing corporations who use houses as tools to make a profit. The squatters wonder why, in times of a real housing crisis, the development of houses is delegated to profit-oriented organizations.
In Utrecht alone there are already more than 7,000 vacant properties and it takes at least nine years before it’s one’s turn to get a social housing unit. The squatters hope this action to encourage people: “On a waiting list you can not live. We hope to encourage people to take matters into their own hands and to claim their right to housing. After all, having a roof over your head is a first necessity of life, while property is not.”
More than two years ago, in July 2019, 400 students had to make way for the demolition of the buildings. The then-owner, Aprisco, was supposed to demolish the building but instead sold it to developer and investor Kondor Wessels Projecten (KWP), which has left the properties vacant ever since. This is not the first time that KWP has failed to stick to its agreements. During the construction of the houses in the Merwedekanaal area KWP decided to suddenly increase the rents, against the agreements with the Municipality of Utrecht. KWP has informed the Municipality that it ‘does not feel bound by the rents communicated at the time’.
The development of Archimedeslaan is related to the development of the new noise barrier along the A12, which due to the nitrogen crisis has still not had a concrete follow-up. As the vacancy continues and the permits have not yet been issued, the squatters want to reoccupy the premises and make them available for housing.