Casi sociale ACUM / Social housing NOW

Casi sociale ACUM / Social housing NOW

A civic-activist initiative, the Social Housing NOW! [Casi sociale ACUM] campaign seeks to problematise social housing in Cluj, given the context of severe reductions of the public housing stock and the galloping transformation of housing into a real estate commodity during the past decade. Consequently, the existing social housing stock is not only insufficient to cover the needs of residents, but it has also become inaccessible exactly to those who should rightfully occupy it. In order to change the prevailing tendency of social/public housing policy in the city, to support the improvement of life conditions of all citizens who contribute to the city through their labour, seeking to promote social justice for those pushed to the margins of society, where their labour and existence is inferiorised, humiliated and exploited, a housing first policy is needed in local governance that would thus recognise the centrality of housing to the material, social and psychological life of people. The campaign’s initiators recognise the primordial character of housing and demand local and national governments to abide to the housing first principle.

For the coming years, we intend to further the political activism for housing justice through supporting the access to adequate public housing of the precariatized working class, including impoverished ethnic Roma, transforming the issue of public housing into a political subject and building up political solidarity around housing as primordial need and fundamental right versus housing as commodity, mobilizing different social actors at local level around a movement for public housing and an anti-racist housing politics, as well as participating in national and transnational coalitions for housing rights. 

Our political activism for public housing has the chance to mobilize the precariatized working class. We are doing this in a moment when civic participation in Romania mostly focuses on civil rights and liberal democracy, and its mainstream (envisioned as a middle class-based movement) is less open towards addressing socio-economic inequalities or social citizenship. In parallel with this, at the best, the issue of poverty is tackled through projects for combating poverty, which are mostly concerned with improving the employment rate or the school participation of people living in poverty, but neglect the structural causes of economic inequalities or the effects of (anti-gypsy) racism on producing and justifying the inequality. However, even if we acknowledge that it is difficult to attract supporters for our actions for public housing or to build up political solidarity across class, we strive to enlarge the arguments for the need of a politics of housing that might function as an engine of social justice and as an instrument for envisioning and building up a society based on equality and solidarity.

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Cluj-Napoca, Romania