Since May 1, 2020 occupied a group of activists a large vacant office building on the Waldeck Pyrmontkade in the Zeeheldenkwartier in The Hague (by locals also called Pirates Quarter). With this move, they combine a personal goal — providing housing, with a social goal — blocking the controversial construction of a hotel for expats and wealthy tourists. In this statement of support we explain why BPW Den Haag applauds this action and supports the activists. And finally how you can support this action of course!
The former users of the building were The Hague support organizations Youth Format and Safe Home, who were forced to move due to the high rent. In 2019, the property was sold for €4,210,000 to the Amsterdam investment fund RE:BORN Real Estate, which plans to build luxury short-stay apartments for expats. It is yet another disappointment from a prestigious project developer, which of course nobody among the population of The Hague really wants — penthouses with a view over a city in a housing crisis, phew.. We can all, of course, watch passively as 1% of the population is making housing increasingly expensive, more temporary and more insecure — another possibility is to take action, and that is exactly what the Short Stay? no way!activists. They have chosen this building because it exemplifies the fatal error of the neoliberal real estate trade and walk, which has meanwhile turned into an outright disaster for public housing.
Whoever says BPW says active resident support. That means our struggle is mostly a defensive one — for the acceptance of our basic rights; to prevent, among other things, evictions. Our goal is to achieve and maintain direct control and (housing) security through solidarity with residents in precarious living situations. This is of course extremely important and effective, but in practice we are unfortunately often only approached when it is actually too late to organize local residents and create broad support for resistance, for example by means of a promising alternative plan. . It is therefore very hopeful if an action group such as Short Stay? no way! rises, waging a more offensive battle. Because with an attitude of 'saving what can still be saved' we will certainly not progress as a movement. We will have to work towards a dignified living environment by means of a diversity of tactics, from different specialisms and with innovative ideas. Short Stay? no way! has designed its campaign with a focus on visibility, with a beautiful facade banner, posters in the public space, updates via social media and positive outreach through local newspapers and radio.
The BPW is hopeful of initiatives that evade intimidation, repression or lawsuits to expose the housing crisis and offer bold alternatives to the ostentatious artist impressions that shine on billboards everywhere. After all, it cannot remain free from criticism that municipalities continue to gloat about even more 'rich lice houses', while homelessness threatens the most urgent home seekers and vulnerable groups within society? If the government really wants to reduce the estimated deficit of 315,000 affordable rental homes instead of increasing it further, now is the time to pull the emergency brake.
The Short Stay? no way!activists demand with the squat of the building on the Waldeck Pyrmontkade not only a roof over their heads, but also a say in the way in which they give shape to their habitation. For them, social housing does not only mean a social rent, but also that the occupation is organized in a social way. Democratizing our housing can be an important first step to gain more control over our immediate living environment and major changes within the neighborhood and city. We can learn a lot from the experiences of housing cooperatives, legalized squats and FreeCoop (inspired by the German Mietshäuser Syndikat).
We will now have to pull out all the stops to do what is really necessary for the city over what is most profitable. That sounds ambitious, but in times of crisis, drastic measures have to be taken. In addition to an immediate stop to the demolition and sale of social housing, efforts will have to be made to transform and build sufficient good and affordable housing. Action groups like Short Stay? no way! As far as BPW The Hague is concerned, they have an important function in raising social awareness and act as a crowbar to get the housing crisis back at the top of the political agenda. After all, the housing crisis did not happen to us, it was affected by political choices — and our growing movement is fighting for radically different policies.
”No hotels in the Zeeheldenkwartier”Hotel strategy The Hague
It's great that the zoning plan for the office flat on the Waldeck Pyrmontkade has been changed to residential, but then of course housing must also be built, in accordance with the intended importance of public housing. And that brings us to the tricky point in this story: short stay is in fact no occupancy at all, but a temporary stay in a furnished hotel room for a minimum of 7 nights and a maximum of 6 months. The municipality can continue to pretend that the building will not become a hotel, but the short stay construction does not fall under housing and according to the Hotel Strategy The Hague there is no 'short stay' category, so it is just a hotel — and the municipality should no more facilitating outside the center! The hotel strategy was created to ensure that no Amsterdam situations will arise in The Hague, as the second tourist city in the Netherlands. Based on the current municipal policy, the current plans of the (how ironic) Amsterdam RE:BORN should therefore not go ahead at all. BPW The Hague is therefore also making an urgent appeal to the responsible alderman Martijn Balster, that the municipality will revoke the illegally granted environmental permit and will ensure that the granted residential zoning is complied with in the revised planning for this plot.
The action group has already done a lot of research into the real estate company. On the outside, the people behind RE:BORN present themselves to the world as innovative and socially conscious developing investors, but those who snoop behind this carefully constructed facade will soon discover that this is purely for profit, disguised in pretense. Anyone who questions and blocks RE:BORN's behavior can also count on a visit from their shady 'cousins'. Through online messages, the activists of Short Stay? no way! already several cases of intimidation and provocation from RE:BORN. Someone from the action group: "On May 7, two men drove up in a Ram car, who tried in vain to force the door and then wanted to lock us in the building with construction fences." In a conversation that was filmed, the men from RE:BORN announced that they would start demolition the next day and indicated that they saw no problem in demolishing an occupied property. "Despite the police's request to leave us alone and remove the pile of construction fences from the public road, they returned the next day with another Ram vehicle to stage a similar scene."
Put pressure on the municipality and join the mail storm!Short Stay? no way!
Today, the action group has delivered 5000 letters in the area, with the call to send letters to the Alderman for Housing. Read how you can do that too here. Do you use social media? Then share the call of the action group! RE:BORN has meanwhile filed summary proceedings, which will serve on Monday. Although the judge would demand an early departure from the action group: we will hear from them for the time being.