Here are five reasons why squatting is not only a viable housing solution, but an important act in itself (complemented by the article: “6 Reasons to Support Your Local Squats” by Izzy Koksal and Luke Sheldon [Novara Wire, 2015]):
1] Access Direct, Rent-Free Shelter – Squatting offers people the possibility of housing themselves without intermediary agents, and without paying extortionate rents. Squatting offers people time and space, to live without fear of falling behind on the rent, and time to pursue interests and passions. That is not to say that squatting is an easy option; it is a full-time job, from securing & repairing a building, to skipping food, to dealing with evictions.
- Don’t pay rent to a landlord, and live rent-free;
- Avoid getting ripped off by intermediary agents like letting agents, councils, etc;
- Live outside the narrow confines of mainstream society.
2] Live in Community & Sustainably – One of the key characteristics of squatting is working together as a group (“the crew”), to get things done and live together as best you can. Squatting crews share responsibilities like cooking, plumbing & electrics, etc. However you do what you like, when you like. The community is built on the necessities of survival, building strong bonds of trust, tolerance, and camaraderie. Decisions are taken collectively during regular meetings/ discussions, avoiding authoritarian leadership.
- Make good friends and work together to house yourselves;
- Learn hands-on skills;
- Make life an adventure.
V Case Studies of Squatting as a Housing Option V
- “Comment is free readers on … squatting” [Guardian, 25/02/11]
- Four people tell how squatting helped them in their lives and why they squat – peoplespanel.blogspot.com
- A personal account of how squatting changed the direction of two people’s lives – “On squatting, homelessness and haircuts”
- Squat or Rot is a blog showing how squatters transform spaces- https://squatorrot.wordpress.com/
- Hallack’s “Keeping Occupied” (2009) examines squatting life on the Ocean Estate – Indymedia via SQUASH
3] Reclaiming Wasted Space Squatters use derelict, empty buildings to house themselves, as a better alternative to sleeping rough or emergency accommodation. Buildings are often left empty for dodgy property practices, and squatters move in, clean, repair and reuse the space for the purpose for which it was intended – to provide shelter. Squatting prioritises the building’s “use” value over its “exchange” value.
- Interact with amazing spaces left to rot;
- The freedom to recreate spaces according to needs and desires;
- Bring wasted space back into use.
4] Host Cultural & Autonomous Spaces Squats have a long history of providing social centres and cultural spaces, open to all. Squatted social centres offer free meeting, workshop & activity space, run free-shops, bicycle repair, and general “hang-out” space for doing nothing in particular. Often these spaces hold gigs, providing a platform for new artists and experimentation, operating beyond the purely commercial. Music movements of the 1970’s (punk), 1980’s (new wave) and 1990’s (rave) were spawned, fostered and promoted by their squat scenes.
- Be part of underground culture, promoting free expression;
- Offer autonomous and liberatory spaces for local community benefit, for free;
- Raise money and awareness for marginalised causes by holding benefit gigs.
5] Join a Global Tradition of Asserting People’s Rights Squatting land and buildings is a time honoured, global tradition of the dispossessed; from the peasant land invasions of Brazil, to the African townships, to the English Diggers. Retaking stolen land, held under private ownership, by direct action for the purpose of meeting the direct needs of living people (eg shelter & food) is a simple lesson in common sense that transcends history, culture and geography. This includes communities occupying their homes, libraries and public facilities to preventing them being lost as common assets.
- Help reclaim the commons against private ownership;
- Be part of community actions to stop the loss of vital facilities, by direct action;
- Become part of an autonomous community, determining your own rules and activities collectively.
V Case Studies of Squatting As Positive Social Action V
- Squatting – The Real Story (Bay Leaf Books, London, 1980) – story of the squatting movement in the 1960’s and 1970’s in Britain;
- Made Possible by Squatting – archive of squatting projects in Britain and beyond;
- “A Brief and Incomplete History of Squatting in Brighton (And Hove)” –SNOB(AHA), September 2012;
- CrossRoads Women’s Centre – squatted social centre dedicated to women’s issues formed in the 1970’s;
- UK squatting archive has newsheets, comics, minutes from meetings and more: 1969 – 2012;
- ASS’s Resources Page: squat comics, newsletters, articles, books, papers, etc.
- SQUASH Case Studies (2011): 70 case studies of squatting in England and Wales – 1970’s to 2011
- “Squatting in Europs: Radical Spaces, Urban Struggles” (Squatting Europe Collective (Sqek), Minor Compositions, 2013);
- Squat Maps of European cities from sqek;
- Squat Research at E.T.C. Dee.