Over 100 people living in a yard of houses on 50 Vulturilor Street from the 3rd District of Bucharest, Romania, will be forcefully evicted on Monday, September 15, beginning with 9 am. Formal notices about the forceful eviction were sent in the beginning of September to the 25 families living at this address. Among those targeted are children, elderly persons and persons with disabilities. The evicted have no genuine alternatives for relocation and feel ignored and ethnically discriminated against by local officials.
[Sept. 17 Update: Since the writing of this first release, the people on Vulturilor have been evicted on Monday, Sept 15, by court officers assisted by riot police. After a first night spent in the street, in front of their former homes, and while some former tennats were protesting in front of Bucharest City Hall, around noon on 16.09., policemen of the local force moved on Vulturilor 50. They loaded in vans and transported to an unclear location the belongings which had been stored on the street by former tenants. The evicted were expected to relocate, separately, to men’s and mother-and-children night shelters, a provisional solution which they refused. So far, local authorities have been uncooperative about long-term solutions or genuine relief for those left homeless.]
(Protesting by climbing the evicted building)
(Post-evacuation: first night on the street)
Post-socialist land restitution
The land corresponding to Vulturilor 50, with an aproximate surface of 2300 square meters, was returned in July 2002 to former (before socialist nationalisation- tr.n) owners Harsia Ion and Zank Ligia Veturia, on the basis of law 10/2001. In 2002, the owners concluded lease contracts with all former ICRAL (socialist-initiated Enterprise for Construction, Maintenance, and Administration of Housing-tr.n) tenants living in the houses, in accordance with the provisions of Government Emergency Decision 40/1999 concerning the protection of tenants. The new lease contracts were concluded for a period of 5 years.
In 2007, the owners sold the land and the litigation rights to consultancy firm SC New Bridge Partners SRL, managed by a Norwegian citizen. In 2008, the firm brought eviction suits against the tenants. It won in 2009 with the court ordering the eviction of the tenants. The decision was not contested by the latter owing to their lack of any kind of legal expertise and the insufficent funds for hiring counsel.
„They took my mother and a number of other individuals to sign who knows what in court..”
When asked if they undertook legal proceedings to prevent eviction, the members of one of the families say: „ No, no, they took my mother and a number of other individuals to sign who knows what in court, a signature-that was it. The others had nothing to do. A lawyer came and she told them they were going to get money, to get things. And so they took my mother and several people to sign something there.” Thus, in Febuary 2010, the lawyer, Simona Debulat, hired by New Bridge Partners, persuaded several tenant families to sign a Delivery Document for the houses, towards the owner, in the office of court officer Lucian Gont.
The evicted claim that they agreed to sign the Document because they were promised both sufficient money for renting houses in other places and the indefinite postponement of the eviction. Lawyer Simona Debolat, with whom New Bridge Partners recently ceased collaboration, confirmed that a money offer was made to the tenants but claims that the committment has not been upheld by firm management to this day.
Only a few families left.
Most of the tenants have been living in the Vulturilor yard for 20 years, having been assigned there in the beginning of the 1990s by the state companies for which they worked. Since the 2009 expiry of the new contracts concluded with the Harsia-Zank owners and up to now, the tenants have been living in those homes without legal documents.
Not having the possibility of renting or buying apartments on the market, the majority cotinued to live in the houses from which they had been told they were going to be evicted. Only a few families left. They did so after managing to sublet their houses to evacuees from other districts. Even fewer succedded, in the late 1990s, to sell the rooms they had managed to purchase from the state, on the basis of law 112/1995, and move out.
„Do you know what I was told? Why did I have so many children?”
The requests for social housing, submitted to the district city hall and renewed throughout the 12 years since the restitution of the land, were left unsolved. The requests submitted to the capital (central) city hall were redirected to the city hall of District 3.
A woman who persevered in renewing her file (renewal requests have to be submitted every year- tr.n) told us: „ I submitted papers everywhere and 3 years ago they built houses at Republica, social housing built by District 3. We were also sent there by Ion Militaru (former head of the Location Spaces Service) and he told us these ones have been built for you. And we went and saw them only from the outside, the blocks they built, but did not receive anything. When we went for an audience he told us we don’t have the money to pay the rent.”
Another woman, enraged, remembers the experience of meetings at the district hall: „Do you know what I was told? Why did I have so many children? That I should have first gotten a house and then get married. They laughed at me. That’s exactly what I was told. They would get us in, in a group, not personally, a person per group and would finish very quickly with us.”
Those we spoke to are working as taxi drivers, maternal assistants, construction workers, day workers. They claim they had no problem in paying the rent to the owner after the land was returned. They say though that they feel excluded and humiliated because they are Roma:”Ion Militaru from Location Spaces used to say that if he gives a house to gipsies he falls ill.”
Abandoned by local authorities
The tenants began receiving walking summons in 2011. They contiuned to live in the houses in the absence of an alternative for living spaces and abandoned by local authorities. The new owners limited their proceedings to those summons and did not approach them formally for several years.
The FCDL (Common Front for Rights to Housing) contacted the people in the yard in July 2014: „We are waiting in fear that they will come one day and kick us out. For two years we’ve been packing things in the house, around Easter, that’s when the rumor always came, that they are coming to chuck us out. And for us there was no Easter! I would complain to the girls at work about where was I going to get bags to collect our things because they were throwing us out. Where should we go? We are not going in the street. Because I’ve got nowhere to go. Who is going to take me, with 7 children and 2 nephews? Where am I to go? My daughter works there with me, she’s in post-natal leave, the son works occasionally, sometimes he has work, sometimes there isn’t any.”
On the morning of September 2nd 2014, all the families received, besides the summons to leave the houses no later than 8 days, a notification about the forceful eviction in case of non-complicance, scheduled for September 15, 9:00 am.
The Common Front for the Right to Housing support the people on Vulturilor 50 on the days preceding the forceful eviction and calls for solidarity with them on Septmeber 15, beginning with 9:00 am. We call on District 3 City Hall, the Bucharest General City Hall and the New Bridge Partners SRL owners the unmediated observance of Art.5. of Law 112/1995 which states: „The eviction of tenants and the granting of rights to owners will be made only after the effective granting of a suitable living space by public authorities or the owner.”
According to the data obtained from the District 3 City Hall in September 2014, there are presently 3150 unsolved registered social housing claims, of which 500 were registered by families evicted from restituted buildings- all 500 being social cases. Concerning the solving rate, the District 3 City Hall claims it has received since 2005 until now only 33 houses from Bucharet General City Hall to be distributed towards petitioners, suggesting thus that the solving of the claims squarely depends on municipal authorities. Still, according to Art.1. from Goverment Emergency decition no. 68/2006, local coucils which have received more than 10 petitions from evicted persons as a result of the application of laws concerning restitution may opt either for the building of social houses through its own investment programs or the redistribution towards the evicted of housing for young couples, built through the program of the National Authority for Housing (ANL).
The Common Front for Housing (FCDL) is an activist platform which has as a mission the affirmation and defense of rights to housing against abuse. FCDL is initiated by persons evicted or threated with eviction and comprises, besides them, relatives, friends, activists, artists, NGO members.
fcdl.ro /// email: firstname.lastname@example.org
facebook: Frontul Comun pentru Dreptul la Locuire