Today (October 1st, 2020) marks the 10 year anniversary of the criminalisation of squatting in the Netherlands through the Kraken en Leegstand (Squatting & Emptiness) law.
Despite the law, kraken gaat door (squatting continues).
On the face of it, the law was created to end both squatting and emptiness. It has done neither. Buildings are still empty and for many people squatting remains a necessity. After all, it is not the existence of empty buildings that leads to squatting, but rather the lack of accessible housing.
In English: You Can’t Live in a Waiting List: Squatting Rights are Housing Rights
Whether you are squatting, renting, or looking to buy a home, finding an available (let alone affordable) house is a struggle.
Waiting lists remain long. While rent and housing prices continue to rise across the country [*].
In 1911, people living in Amsterdam spent 16.2% of their income on housing. In 2015 people were spending 38.9% [*].
And not only do renters spend an average of 40% of their income on housing, but the poorest, most vulnerable people spend the most [*].
In the private rental sector the situation is even worse. Young adults living in the private sector spend 50% of their income on rent [*].
This story is reflected across the country. Since 1996, rents have increased 21% nationally, while wages have risen just 8% [*].
Given the level of extortion occurring in the rental sector (and the fact that squatting was made illegal!) it is unsurprising that homelessness in the Netherlands doubled from 2009-2018 to nearly 40,000 people [*]. And given the new economic conditions brought on by the pandemic, we can only assume this number is rising.
And while 40,000 people struggle through life without a place to live, an estimated 100,000 homes stand empty across the country [*]. And that doesn’t even include the tens of millions of square metres of office space standing empty. Apparently the government forgot to implement the second part of their 2010 law…the part that was supposed to deal with emptiness.
What’s more, emptiness is hidden by anti-squat companies placing ‘vacancy managers’ inside buildings. These companies charge desperate people who have few other options (if any) to accept giving away their housing rights in return for a temporary, extremely precarious place to live.
Anti-squat companies are notorious for leaving buildings almost entirely empty, apart from a couple of lonely ‘vacancy managers’. After all, it only takes one person for them to claim the building is in use and thus prevent it from being squatted. In the Netherlands, a staggering 50,000 people live in this way [*]!
Under such conditions, squatting is a necessity. Legal or not.
If you’re thinking about squatting, a good place to get information is from your local KSU (Kraak Spreek Uur), aka Squatting Assistance Hour. Here is a list of KSUs in the Netherlands:
Groningen: KSU Groningen, by appointment: firstname.lastname@example.org
Amsterdam: KSU Oost, Joe’s Garage, Pretoriusstraat 43, Tuesday @ 8pm-9:30pm. Contact: email@example.com
Amsterdam: SKSU (Student Kraak Spreek Uur), Vrankrijk, Spuistraat 216. By Appointment: firstname.lastname@example.org
Utrecht: KSU, Reactorweg 168, Monday @ 18pm-19pm. By Appointment: email@example.com
Den Haag: Email, firstname.lastname@example.org, to make an appointment.
Rotterdam: KSU Rotterdam, by appointment: email@example.com
Twente: Email, firstname.lastname@example.org, to make an appointment.
Living in a Precarious Situation?
The Bond Precaire Woonvorm is a national organisation working towards secure housing for everyone. If you have a temporary contract and are in a conflict with your landlord you can contact the Bond Precaire Woonvorm for assistance.
There’s More to Life than Housing
The Vrije Bond is a union with branches across the Netherlands. They support many different struggles aimed at creating a better world, including the struggle for housing. Learn more about the Vrije Bond..