Groningen. Netherlands. After the squatters of the Kraaienest in Groningen won the court case on friday 28 january, Stichting (foundation, Enough 14) Valquest will now probably appeal. The landlord with hundreds of properties can do without the 2.8 million building, but wants to prevent a home for homeless students and a social center in the former Heerenhuis, and prefers to exploit even more people with luxury apartments and high rents. Squatting goes on!
Originally published by Squat Net.
We, a group of homeless international students and others who need a home, squatted the Heerenhuis at Spilsluizen in Groningen. In the past, the house functioned as a christian youth organisation, and it hosted two different restaurants with meeting and event rooms. At the beginning of the pandemic the famous real estate owner Joshua Camera, under the name Stichting Valquest, bought the building. Shortly after that the restaurant Heerenhuis quit, and the huge building has been empty for 2 years until we moved in. Camera is known in Groningen and beyond, for demanding too high rent, illegal management costs and intimidation. In 2019 he won the Rood Huisjesmelker van het jaar, and his shady reputation was confirmed by the media (Boos, Sikkom and SBS6).
Camera owns hundreds of properties under different names, such as Pex Real Estate. In the meantime, the building of the Heerenhuis has been left to deteriorate: breaks in windows, water leaks, moist places… The neighborhood also does not like Camera. His plans to make ‘luxurious’ student housing didn’t get a permit from the municipality. Some parts like the attic in the back stem from the 17th century and got monumental status. At the Ossenmarkt side of the building, are many lawyers and office, and at the other side people who have been living there for decades, and a homeless shelter. So, contact with the neighbors for us has been positive so far. Our group moved from Zuiderkuipen, the squat where ‘social’ housing corporation Patrimonium basically kicked us on the street in the middle of a pandemic in winter.
On Friday, January 28, we WON the ‘kort geding’, the court case, against Stichting Valquest! That’s a huge win for us and for the squatting movement in the whole country. The win makes for good case law and gives us a home for the time being.
We would love to use the front space with the big bar as a social space where people can come for a drink, a game and learning from each other. We have many dreams that we could make possible here: bar nights, concerts, a library, workshops and skillshares, meetings, a bike repair cafe, open kitchens (voku’s)…
Each year in Groningen thousands of students look for a home. The city and university invite them but can’t provide them with the basic right of living. Every year that leads to many homeless students, especially internationals in the first months. This September SOS (Shelter Our Students) occupied the Academy building as a protest against these conditions and the bigger underlying housing crisis in the Netherlands. In the past months, we have seen growing resistance to homelessness, high rents, squatting criminalization, the housing policy of the ruling parties, gentrification, discrimination on the housing market and other symptoms of this system. Squatting stays a direct way to get what we need and strengthen the broader struggle against domination with it.
We want to express our solidarity with housing projects and squats threatened with eviction: Ivicke blijft, Köpi, AFGA, and many others!
We look forward to welcoming people, dreaming, building, and living a new world where we break down hierarchies and help each other. We hope that the material needs, community, lessons, skills and resistance that we nurture here will live beyond the project. Solidarity is very welcome!
Geen grenzen, geen landen, kraak alle panden! (No borders, no countries, squat all houses!)
9712NR Groningen, Netherlands
rosazolder [at] riseup [dot] net