Urban Alternatives is launched by a collaboration of different actors which are united in their efforts to create a more democratic, just and sustainable world. This map seeks to highlight initiatives that work towards this goal. Proposal for initiatives not listed yet can be made directly on the website. This process is open to new collaborations.

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Frontul Comun pentru Dreptul la Locuire

Inclusive Housing & Public Space

What challenges did this initiative look to address?

Regardless of their social backgrounds, whether residing in the countryside or the city, people in Romania are constantly affected by the violation of the fundamental right to housing which partly is rooted in ownership conflicts dating back to the Communist era. After the 1945 communist takeover, Romania moved quickly to confiscate, expropriate and nationalize property belonging to individuals, organizations and religious and ethnic communities in order to ensure the pre-eminence of state-controlled property in the new centrally planned economy.

It took until 2001 for Romania to regulate the complex restitution of nationalized property. Nowadays, as a result of the deregulations and the abolition of social rights over the last 20 years, housing problems are the rule and not the exception. The reasons for threats to the right to housing today are manifold: a real estate development company that enters the neighbourhood to raise house and rent prices, a town hall that does not provide support to vulnerable families, or a local council that decides to isolate a community on the basis of ethnicity.

The founding of Frontul Comun pentru Dreptul la Locuire in November 2013 took place after a meeting between a community from Bucharest affected by displacement with solidarity groups and other displaced people. Protests and direct action followed. FCDL is fighting against structural problems and combines the following: displacement due to returns of nationalised flats, displacement abuse, the situation of homeless (often previously evacuated), gentrification due to ethnic discrimination and criminalisation of the poor.

What has changed?

The platform provides information for evicted persons, those who might be evicted but also: anyone supporting the right to proper housing; civic organizations; independent political groups but also media, political decision makers, local and central authorities. FCDL understands the right to proper housing not only as a defensive move against forced eviction, but as comprising all necessary reforms which might efface various types of inequalities created by the housing market.

FCDL makes political claims, such as the regulation of rent prices for private dwellings in relation to the standard of living of the population; introducing the right to housing in the Constitution; identifying legal solutions for housing people in former nationalized homes in danger of evacuation, providing permanent decent housing for homeless people and advocating to make housing a priority of local budget policies and public policies. FCDL calls for the increase in budgets for the State Housing Fund to build and / or purchase dwellings for social housing schemes.

How did it happen?

FCDL believes that real change can only come through solidarity and self-organization. That is why FCDL is organized around two main purposes: firstly, to facilitate people's organization against the violation of their housing rights, and secondly, to bring this issue to the public agenda of the media and authorities. Over the course of the years, they have organized a variety of actions, taking the issue of right to affordable housing both to the street and to Romanian media. To this end, FCDL brings together people with housing problems from all sectors of Bucharest and from different cities in Romania, for the collective defence of their rights. They initiate public debates about the social consequences of the restitution law.

Their work also comprises street actions, media interventions, critical theory, also to tackle established ideas and stereotypes on homeless people and socially vulnerable groups. Through their work, they have created awareness on gentrification in Romania and built and extensive network with likeminded initiatives in Europe. They establish and maintain links with housing activists in Eastern Europe by exchanging experience and knowledge with them.

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