In the wake of the global Corona Virus (Covid-19) pandemic everyone needs protection especially because it is critical to saving lives. The continued eviction of squatters and in some incidents renters puts everyone at risk.
But this is where we are. Abandoned and empty buildings matter more than the shared responsibility of keeping everyone safe. While the media is swirled with stories of rough sleepers being put up in hotels and hostels, the invisible homeless, the squatters are finding themselves on the streets due to evictions. During this dangerous pandemic, the police are teaming up with landlords to illegally evict squatters onto the street. During this dangerous pandemic when other evictions have been halted, the courts are still entertaining putting squatters onto the street. The state has taken the route of abandoning the well being of those under its protection including its own citizens.
Surely, what is the motivation of evictions when clearly halting evictions would also limit the spread of Covid-19?
The majority of the squatter population are vulnerable. While hotels and other stop gap measures are welcome at the moment, they don’t address the real myriad causes of homelessness. The fact that so many need assistance, and the response has barely met the needs for safe and affordable housing is more reflective of our system than homeless people’s shortcomings. Squatters are people too! and their presence in abandoned and empty buildings keeps them safe during this lockdown time.
If the government cannot ensure safety during this pandemic, Post-Covid will the government ensure the rights of all human beings to a life of dignity?
The continued evictions of homeless people during a pandemic proves there is a dangerous nonchalance that betrays how far for many survival is viewed individualistic and not thought of as a collective good or even for public health interest. Yes squatters are sometimes looked upon with some sort of disdain, but all lives still matter. This is a pandemic that affects everyone!
As most workers fail to celebrate or protest on May Day, we take a stand and ask to be kept safe by stopping the eviction of squatters.