Tuesday 6 September 2011

Stop Bandit Privatization!

Today a large group of local residents, members of the Tenants' Defense Committee and ZSP protested in the local council in defense of our neighbours from Targowa St. whose house has been privatized.

There is not much information about the basis of the privatization. Tenants were, in the style typical of the heartless and callous Warsaw bureaucracy, informed in the first days of August that as of August 1, they were no longer municipal tenants and their rents would be raised. The city still owns part of the building, but, as in other cases, it does not want to say which flats are owned by the private owners and which by the city. It is thus forcing all tenants to pay the private rent, although the city is not allowed to charge more than a much lower legal rate for rent. It refuses to explain whether it is keeping the difference or allowing the private owner to pay it at the lower rate. In either case, the tenants are screwed.

On August 9, the tenants stormed the local real estate administration, demanding answers. The head of the administration was nowhere to be found, so tenants marched to the Neighbourhood Office and demanded to see the Mayor. They asked why the head of the administration wasn't at work (or was hiding) and demanded answers. Of course the Mayor had none but suggested a meeting after vacations when all would be prepared. The meeting took place on September 5 as planned, but there were more questions than answers. Instead of addressing the real issues, the politicians were busy giving unsatisfactory answers about policy or even accusing people of being "uneducated", insinuating that people could not understand the legal basis of their getting fucked over. Unsatisfied, people demanded that the topic continue the next day.

We returned and there was the usual circus with the politicians. When residents asked them if they checked the legality of claims made against the building, the politicians, with absolutely no sense of irony or shame, explained that they sent a letter to the appropriate city functionary a year ago. (This had happened on the insistence of the residents by the way.) But, he never answered the letter.

And while the politicians were thought that this was a perfect justification, the people did not. Many times there were interruptions, speeches, screams and heckling.

The city reps were quite busy with the "we are doing a great job" propaganda and, again without any sense of shame, they told of some concrete numbers. Since they decided, in November 2009, to "help" tenants from reprivatized houses find replacement housing, they declined a number and they are "considering" 140 applications. They found new housing for 19 families. 

To understand the scale of this tragedy and political callousness, one has to understand how many people lose municipal housing each time there is a privatization. In this building alone, it is about 100 families.

The city, appealing to the brainwashed yuppie zombies in their electorate, like to talk about all the investments they are making to develop the city. But anybody who can do the simple math can easily see that it just doesn't add up. They are very proud of how they "help tenants" by planning to have two new municipal housing buildings in the neighbour. One is already built and will be given to use by the end of the year. However, this house consists of 69 units.

People asked concretely if any of the tenants of this house have a chance to be settled in the new building. Unfortunately not since the bureaucrats explained that this house would be for people resettled from houses that need to be repaired. People demanded to know which houses. After all, we know of several buildings which have been condemned by the building inspectors. A few of our activists live in such buildings and have been ordered out "for their own safety" - but they don't have replacement housing. We suppose that hundreds of families are now in this situation - so who are the ones who will get to move?

Either the city hasn't decided or it refuses to tell. People asked what the delay was in planning - after all, people need to be informed in advance that they have to move. Again, no answers. When would there be more housing to act as replacement housing for the privatized residents? No answers. But we already know the answer. The city doesn't plan it. They never did. They do not plan enough replacement housing for anybody - they plan the deliberate destruction of private housing and leaving people to fend for themselves on the market that nobody can afford.

We cannot accept these actions and these policies and hope that the neighbours will decide to take more concrete radical action in this situation in defense of their homes.