International finance funds have recently landed in Spain to take advantage of post-housing-bubble ‘bargains’. With very bad consequences for people affected by the crsis, the international commission of PAH said at the occasion of the MIPIM 2015.
At its “Anti Mipim Tribunal” in Cannes, March 2014, the “European Action Coalition for the Right to Housing and the City” presented cases from 12 countries which showed some of the consequences of the business which was celebrated at the Mipim.
Thanks to support Fondation Charles Léopold Mayer pour le Progrès de l’Homme now a brochure is documenting the cases.
“Anti-MIPIM Tribunal”, Cannes, 12th March 2014
FINAL STATEMENT by the EUROPEAN ACTION COALITION FOR THE RIGHT TO HOUSING AND TO THE CITY
After 25 years, for the first time real estate managers, asset dealers and city sellers have not been alone at this year’s global property party “Mipim” in Cannes. We, the “European Action Coalition for the Right to Housing and the City”, together with protesters from the region, have also been there. At our “Anti Mipim Tribunal” we presented cases from 12 countries which showed some of the consequences of the business which was celebrated at the Mipim. We accused concrete business actors and local authorities for violating the right to the city. We stressed that these violations are not singularities but that they are necessary parts of a structural process of commodification, privatisation, financialisation and real estate speculation. We demonstrated why this profit orientated business urgently should be replaced by alternatives that are orientated on the right of everybody to a have secure, adequate, healthy, not excluding and affordable place to live . And we started to discuss HOW “Mipimism” – which is another word for the neoliberal ideology of real estate capitalism – really can be stopped and overcome.
After the MIPIM we agreed on the following statement:
25 YEARS OF MIPIMISM IS ENOUGH!
During the past 25 years some of us have been promised private homes, but all we got is debt and the threat of eviction. Others paid rising rents, and what we got is a lack of maintenance, and gentrification. Many have been pushed out of our neighbourhoods; others are homeless or badly housed. During the past 25 years much financial investment has come through our cities, but at the end the vast majority of us are poorer. In the view of the financial investors we, the producers of their buildings, the inhabitants of their assets play only one role: We shall pay for their business and loans; be it as tenants, as mortgage payers or as citizens and tax payers. Now, after 25 years of mortgage-induced human disasters, after all the misery produced by privatisations, after all the losses for our communities, after all the economic crashes and after all the huge socialization of the costs it is really time to say “NO” to this business. NO to their destructive ideas of a total market, where houses and other social infrastructure become private, purely financial, assets! NO to their reduction of the city, our common habitat, to a globally competing business place, filled only with commodities! NO to the plundering of our environments and the urban heritage of humanity! NO to their workfare, precarisation and control of the inhabitants! NO to their speculative banking systems and their strategies to force us into debt! NO to the public bailout of their crisis, their crashes! NO to their systems of greed, structural irresponsibility and profit extraction!
Look back in anger
When the first Mipim took place 25 years ago the crisis of the fordistic “factory society” with its mass housing machines was already 20 years old. In reaction to that crisis the neoliberal ideology of homeownership has been normalised and the “right to buy” progressively replaced the right to equal housing rights.
In 1989 the time was ripe for the lift-off of the property business from its territorial relations and the freeing from its role as a mere service for industrial production and social reproduction. The real estate business became an “industry” in its own right.
As Mipim was one of the main events promoting this development, we may call the corresponding ideology and practice “Mipimism”. The Mipim since 25 years has been celebrating the crimes of financialized property speculation by organizing an annual spectacle for the rich and their servants with business talks on yachts and streams of Champagne.
“Mipimism” is the cynical celebration of the systematic disposession of the majority of inhabitants from their right to the city by a minority of global real estate managers and investors.
Mipimism from its beginning was warmly welcomed by market-driven governments in Europe. Germany for instance, after a long political disputes, in 1989 abolished a law which protected the huge sector of not-for-profit rental housing from being sold off. Soon afterwards the iron curtain fell and Eastern Europe became an El Dorado for privatizers and speculators. At the same time the enlarging European Union moved in the direction of neoliberal market policies without a counterpart in social rights and equality. Step by step, all barriers for the free flow of globally accumulated and heavily concentrated capital were abolished.
Much of this capital was invested into housing and commercial real estate, making living in the European major cities more and more unaffordable. Tourism, urban entertainment, the concentration of retail, mega-events and large scale urban projects transformed many city regions into agglomerations of transnational property investments.
At the same time financial accumulation and new technologies of shadow banking promoted the development of huge transnational mortgage and housing bubbles. The crashes since 2007, the public bail outs, the fundamental crisis of the EU and the mortgage misery in southern Europe during the past years… All this is the consequence of 25 years of Mipimism.
Diagnosis of the results
Let’s have a look at the latest results, as they appear to the members of our European Action Coalition: In Southern Europe and Ireland the “Troika” (European Commission, European Central Bank, IMF) reacted to the debt crisis with conditions which fundamentally attack the housing rights of ordinary people. Instead of liberating the real use-value of the (i.e. foreclosed) housing stocks from financial abuse and bankruptcy by transforming it into social, public or common housing, the Troika enforced a bailout of the failed mortgage banks without protecting the indebted homeowners. As a consequence there has been a dramatic increase of housing precarity and forced evictions in all countries.
In SPAIN for instance economic growth during the past decade was mainly based on tourism and real estate. The result was an enormous housing bubble. At the same time no social housing provision was established. In order to get a house people were forced to slip into the debt system and borrow money at high risks and on bad terms. When the bubble burst people were not able to pay their mortgages. 200.000 families have been evicted, 400.000 foreclosure processes are going on. At the same time the unemployment rate is 27% and 3.5 million homes are empty. The state bailed out the banks resulting in extraordinarily high public debt, being a threat for the whole economy not only in Spain. Recently, a new phase of selling out real estate has started in Spain. Dozens of international funds have started to acquire homes and real estate companies for very low prizes from bad banks, public and private shareholders. This business also is glorified at the MIPIM.
Rather similarly, PORTUGAL during the past 25-30 years promoted private mortgages and the creation of a housing bubble as a “solution” for mass housing. Their crazy logics: the more credit available, the higher the prices of houses will be. Now, after the crash most families are indebted for their whole life. Because of the austerity policies of the Portuguese government on the orders of Troika, people are also losing their jobs and can’t afford the loans anymore. In its “memorandum of understanding” with Portugal the Troika also imposed the full liberalization of the rental housing market which means rent increase and evictions. Also the new urban renewal plans and the sale of public housing, land and infrastructure is part of the austerity regime. Consequently, there is a deep transformation of city centers. Local residents and traditional commerce gets replaced with hotels, franchised shops, hostels and luxury houses. Within a few years this has caused a fundamental change in the social composition of the city. The working classes will have no space inside the central city districts any more.
In GREECE the housing problem is a direct consequence of the austerity politics implemented by the Greek government following the Troika adjustment programs and consecutive memoranda since 2010. Housing precarity has increased because of the expansion of credit and dependence of access to housing from bank lending in previous years, but also because of the heavy taxation that the government is imposing on private property and the increasing housing costs. People can no longer pay for their houses because of rising unemployment (almost 30% at the end of 2013), reduction of income, cuts in pensions and wages leading to an acute impoverishment of wide parts of the population.
As a result people are indebted towards the banks, the state and social security funds. Inability to pay and poverty are penalised and people are threatened with confiscations of income, pensions, mobile and property. The protective frame and moratorium of evictions that was in place until the end of 2013, is now being withdrawn and housing auctions and evictions are starting to take place. But it is not only private property and housing that is under threat. As part of the adjustment program a huge privatisation and clearance program is taking place, putting all public land and property on sale to international and local investors in order to increase public revenues. Housing precarity and auctions are also used as a way to produce a slump in the real-estate market in order to provide for better ‘investment opportunities’ further jeopardising the right to housing and the city.
Also in ITALY housing provision had already been weakened by the liberalisation of the rental market and the total withdrawal of the public sector from housing. In addition, the EU ‘fiscal compact’ enforces the reduction of the budget by 900 billion euros over the course of the next 20 years. As housing policies haven’t been a government priority since a long time, this means that there never will be an adequate state budget for public housing. As part of its austerity measures the Italian government has also cancelled the housing benefits for tenants, including low-income groups. This decision now is forcing 300,000 families which receive these benefits into a situation where they cannot pay the rents.
The results of this political program for deepening of the housing crisis are highlighted by the fact that today over 250,000 families are living under the threat of eviction. In 80% of the cases the reasons are non-payment because of a lack of income, unemployment or similar problems of the users. The number of evictions has doubled since 2008, coinciding with the burst of the housing bubble. There are more than 650,000 households on the waiting list for public housing, while more than 4 million houses are empty. This clearly shows the negative effect of the crisis on working-class and the failure of neoliberal policies.
IRELAND has been the No.5 among the heavily indebted Euro countries under Troika command. To a large extent the Irish crisis was a result of commodification of housing and cities which intensified under what was called the ‘Celtic Tiger’. During this period house prices increased by 300%, a debt bubble emerged and the domestic class of bankers and property developers amassed huge fortunes. The collapse of the housing bubble virtually bankrupted the banking sector as a whole, leading to Ireland’s bank bailout and causing a sovereign debt crisis from which the country has yet to recover. Meanwhile, the impacts on housing have been just as severe. There are 100,000 mortgage holders in serious mortgage arrears. At the same time, since 2008 the national housing waiting list has doubled. The number of families in Dublin becoming homeless in recent years has also doubled. Meanwhile, there are approximately 270,000 empty houses as well as many empty and unfinished ‘ghost estates’. Many of these were built in the isolated rural communities with poor access to schools and other facilities. Moreover, the government continues to favour a housing strategy involving debt-based private homeownership. For the many people who cannot access credit, the only housing policy (there is no housing strategy) is that of an unregulated and inadequate private rented sector and the handing over of the little social housing that remains to housing associations.
Within the past 25 years housing did not only become a disaster in southern Europe and the peripheries. Even in the former “welfare states” of Western Europe privatisation, financial market driven policies and austerity measurements have caused a huge housing crisis.
In BRITAIN the council housing stock has been decimated, home ownership has massively increased, tenants have been pushed into insecure tenures. A third of renters are in the private sector and a large number of them are impoverished. Squatting residential properties has been criminalized in a general shift to shore up property rights. We are seeing a massive deregulation of the planning procedures in the interest of developers. Demolition and rebuilding of social housing is failing to provide affordable homes for local people and leads to ever more reduction of a secure council stock. Thus homelessness has risen steeply with funds solely for management, rather than breaking the cycle. It is readily apparent that change will not occur from representational bodies, due to the fact that a third of parliament members are buy-to-let landlords. “Revolving doors” policies between local municipalities and private developers are common practice and are showcased spectacularly at MIPIM. These ensure profits for an elite of housing speculators and investors at the cost of ordinary tenants.
In FRANCE during the 25 years of MIPIM the country’s huge heritage of public housing and public urban planning has been commoditised. Rents have doubled, prices of real estate have tripled. While speculation allowed an excessive accumulation of capital the resulting high costs for housing reduced the income of the middle and working classes. During these 25 years slums developed around the main cities. Courts ordered 2,214,687 evictions and the number of homeless tripled. Today 2 million households are on the waiting lists for social housing while 2.4 million housing units are vacant.
In the NETHERLANDS a broad social rental sector had been built from the beginning of the twentieth century that gave access to affordable good quality housing to approximately 1/3 of the Dutch population (5 million people in 2012). But this social housing system has been under attack over the last 25 years. The social housing corporations got entangled in a leak to the capital market. The social housing stock was privatized. Thousands of social rental homes were demolished and were floated in megalomaniac urban renewal and gentrification programs. As a result the social housing stock has been seriously reduced. At the same time the Dutch government has been executing neoliberal policies promoting privatization, home-ownership and high rent increases. Currently the government is paving way for a massive sell off of the social rental housing sector to foreign investors. Also since 2013 it is further taxing the social housing sector millions of euros to pay for the debts of the crisis. Through these dynamics, the shortage of affordable housing in the Netherlands is growing; hence people are increasingly forced to accept temporary rental contracts without any tenant’s rights. “Vacant property protectors”, commercial companies that were born from the interests of real estate, have found a way to by-pass all tenants’ rights completely, thus setting a new norm for the right to housing: it will be precarious.
In BELGIUM the governments (federal, regional and municipal) in general have failed to create a housing policy that respects the constitutional Article 23 concerning the right to housing. Thus, they failed to ensure affordable (social) housing for those who need it in the long term. Increases in the cost of real estate and the gentrification of cities has resulted in a reduced access of low income households to housing, to evictions of residents and in general to the negation of the right to housing. Especially in the main Walloon cities, housing speculation is a primary reason for the process of gentrification and therefore the displacement of the original population. In Charleroi, Liège, Brussels, as in Louvain-la-Neuve, in the province of Brabant, people can no longer afford to live in their home town and are moving to more affordable areas. In Brussels about half of the children already live in inadequate housing, – unsafe or too small. Most better quality housing is very expensive. The demand for social housing is the most pressing in Brussels (40,000 households waiting).
Also in GERMANY the former sectors of non-for-profit and public housing have been commercialised and privatised. Social housing support was heavily reduced while the conditions for transnational financial investments were massively improved and urban development was subordinated to the logics of location competition. Since 2000 more than 2 million rental housing units were sold. Approximately 900,000 housing units today are under direct control of transnational financial investors. At the level of the housing and facility management the results were disastrous: forced to extract a high return and interest from an aged housing stock, landlords reduced maintenance and the workforce in their management. In affected neighbourhoods nobody seems to be responsible and the living conditions of the precarious renters are worsening. Some of the companies “defaulted”, others meanwhile use the growing global demand for “secure” financial assets in German property to refinance their business and sell their shares at the stock exchange. At the same time the intensifying housing crisis in German cities allows high rent increases. Under these conditions improvements of the housing stock can also become profitable. But who can afford it? The social costs for the “repair” of the consequences are enormous. Some municipalities and regional states seek for solutions. But at the same time public banks and governments are continuing to sell housing companies to private business controlled by financial investors.
Mipimism has not only been active within the European Union. Also beyond the EU borders the neoliberal transformation of cities into assets of postmodern business models is causing enormous cost for the people, their urban heritage and the environment.
In the COUNTRIES OF EX-YUGOSLAVIA MIPIMism arrived only after the wars had ended, therefore quite late and in the form of selling off of infrastructure and natural resources. The effects of home-grown and international privatisation have been disastrous. They lead to mass impoverishment, unemployment and critical levels of precariousness. Property development is almost completely deregulated and politicians are able to sign off public assets without due process. The current uprisings in Bosnia are a good example of the effects of the marketization of public assets and the deregulation of planning and political power which go hand in hand in the states of post-war Yugoslavia.
In TURKEY the neoliberal urban regime was adopted after 2001 when the country confronted its most serious economic crisis. Gecekondu housing (informal housing) which for decades enabled the poor dwellers to meet their housing needs by squatting on state land was no longer tolerated.
To this end, starting from 2002, relevant rules and regulations were enacted to prohibit squatting while urban transformation/renewal projects dominated the urban agenda with forced evictions and demolitions of settled neighbourhoods. Through these projects which target both informal neighbourhoods and historical neighbourhoods of low income groups in the center, the neighbourhoods were ”cleansed” and turned into the hands of developers, a process which is a clear example for ”accumulation by dispossession”. Those recognized as beneficiaries are relocated to mass housing blocks in the periphery, which means a violation of their economic, social and cultural rights. Because they have to pay unaffordable bank credits for their new houses, most sell their shares with debts and move out, more impoverished and deprived than ever. Tenants who can afford to live in the big city because of low rents in specific neighbourhoods, do not enjoy rights to remain and are thrown out on to the streets.
The city is being designed as an Ottoman Disneyland focused on the demands of high income groups, global capital and rich tourists.
The Mass Housing Administration (TOKI), directly linked to the PM and the Ministry of Environment and Urban Affairs, has hegemonic powers over local governments. These institutions together with pro-government municipalities are the perpetrators of the neoliberal urban regime. In 2012, a new law which targets the transformation of areas prone to ‘disaster’ risk was enacted. The law does not emphasize ‘disaster’ in any part of the text except in its heading. Its primary objective is to ease the implementation of regeneration projects through the government. Property and housing rights are violated with this law which also dismisses the rights that are secured by national and international laws and clears the way for a new wave of plundering of natural, cultural, historical values and our cities.
Concrete accusations against Mipim-attendees
At the “Anti-Mipim Tribunal” in Cannes members of the European Action Coalition for the Right to Housing and to the City pointed out the following concrete cases of violations of housing rights or of democratic and social principles in their cities by public actors and business attending the MIPIM:
From LISBON “Habita” accuses ESTAMO (which is a public company responsible for the sale of public land and buildings) and the CML (which is the municipality of Lisbon). Together these two public entities are organising processes of gentrification in Lisbon. These are promoting speculative operations and the sale the public infrastructures in retail. Furthermore “Habita” accuses the Portuguese government and the Troika for facilitating the process of gentrification with a new rental law which promotes rent increases and evictions. “Habita” finally accuses real estate funds of banks. Millennium-BCP for instance bought land and promoted processes of mass eviction of the poor from working class areas in collaboration with the municipality of Amadora. The banks have also been co-responsible for empty houses (in Portugal there are 750 000 empty houses) and for the housing bubble in Portugal. The bubble drove thousands of families into lifelong debt and evicted many of them. Even after losing their homes they still owe the loan to the bank. The Troika and the government are also accused for promoting austerity measures and privatisations in favour of banks.
From SPAIN the platform of the mortgage-affected (PAH) accuses the Spanish government, private equity funds and banks for continuing the gambling with the homes and lives of the people. Last August the “bad bank” SAREB sold 50 % of the shares of a portfolio of badly maintained 1.000 housing units to a fund managed by H.I.G. for only 50 million €. In June the Municipal Housing and Land Madrid (EMVS) announced that it sold 1,860 social rental homes to the private equity firm Blackstone for only 128.5 mill €. Also the Housing Institute of Madrid (IVIMA) is going to sell 2,935 officially protected flats to funds. The bank BBVA-ANIDA transferred about 1,000 properties to funds of the Baupost Group. Etc. The “party” has just begun. The banks still have huge amounts of homes which they want to sell sooner or later. Vulture funds have taken the first step to control the real estate division of Bankia and Catalunya Banc. La Caixa is negotiating the sale of 51% of Servihabitat to Texas Pacific Group. PAH accuses all these actors to be responsible for the evictions of families, for the reduction and plundering of social housing estates and for the exclusion of the citizens from access to dignified housing.
In ITALY Unione Inquilini (Tenants Union) together with the “International Alliance of Inhabitants” (IAI) has protested against the presence of the “Cassa Depositi e Prestiti“ (CDP) at the Mipim. The CDP is a joint-stock company under public control. Under the pretext of creating so-called “social housing” this “housing investment fund” in fact is active in the process of privatisation of common property as well as in the speculation with unused land. CDP has a capital stock of more than 2 billion Euros, which is mainly composed of the savings of individuals collected at post offices. But more than 800 million of the capital stock is controlled by Polaris Investment SGR, a company incorporated under Luxembourg law whose main shareholder is the powerful banking foundation CARIPLO. It is an Italian example for the epidemic “private-public partnership” in the field of housing. To its investors CDP guarantees a return of 3% above inflation. At the same time there is no concrete responsibility for social housing. The Tenants Union and the IAI accuse the CDP:
- for violating article 42 of the Italian Constitution, which requires a social function of property. In fact CDP is using the capital of small savers to organize a financial speculation against their own interests.
- for violating law 881 with which Italy in 1977 ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. In fact CDP supports the reduction of public interventions into the housing market in favour of financial speculation.
The ATHENS groups “encounterAthens”, “Committe of struggle for a metropolitan park in Helliniko”, “Occupied Theater EMPROS”, “Solidarity for ll” and “Network for the protection of Saronikos bay” are accusing the state company TAIPED (Hellenic republic asset development fund), the Greek government and the Troika for the austerity and privatisation policies they are implementing, in favour of the banks, the financial sector and big investors. The processes of deprivation and dispossession that are taking place are putting people and local communities into fear and insecurity, while undermining the possibilities of their future recovery.
The “Radical Housing Network” in LONDON accuses the London mayor Boris Johnson of cultivating a metropolis for global elites and forcing lifelong communities to disperse. Across London council estates are being demolished and unaffordable homes are taking their place. They accuse Brent Housing Partnership and the corporate councils of Brent and Southwark, the construction firm Willmott Dixon, developers Lend Lease, Berkeley Homes, and the housing associations Catalyst and Genesis that control the new housing product. All these are making MIPIM-deals without transparency or consultation with those affected.
The “Bond Precaire Woonvormen” from the NETHERLANDS, a Union of people whose housing situation is precarious is accusing Camelot Europe, one of the largest “vacant property managers” protecting commercial companies, that it is by-passing all existing tenant laws and using people in need for housing as ‘real-estate pawns’ and as ‘out-sourced dwellers’ that only serve to facilitate speculation. The Mipimist Camelot currently is housing thousands of people throughout Europe, without assuming the slightest responsibility that a landlord should bear. The speculation research collective “SPOK” is accusing the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area since the shortage of affordable housing in the region is grinding, yet at the same time the (office) vacancy rates are excessive.
The BELGIAN organisations “Habitat et Participation”, “Solidarités Nouvelles” and “Réseau brabançon pour le droit au logement” point their accusations on the Belgian government and the investors at Mipim who should have moral and social responsibilities. They explain how big developers, hand in hand with the government, transform Brussels by constructing buildings for the middle and upper classes. This process is much faster than the construction of new social housing schemes. In older neighbourhoods small owners benefit from the arrival of a new population and the increase in prices while at the same time former tenants get relocated through renovations and the doubling of the price. In Charleroi, a former industrial area with a high unemployment rate, the city center is being “revitalized” by the “cleansing” of neighbourhoods. This process started with the renovation of the station in 2010. The organizations also demand that the government supports self-built housing. Self-construction is a real response to the housing crisis because it gives people access to training and to a real ownership.
Activists from the PARIS Region accuse their public authorities for the commodification of their neighbourhoods and for selling public land to speculators.
The Anti-Mipim RHINE-RUHR (Germany) accuses some of the large financialised landlords in this region for extracting profit from the housing stocks without respect to standards and needs. Currently local tenants associations i.e. accuse the largest German landlord Deutsche Annington (185,000 flats, majority of shares controlled by UK based TerraFirma) for increasing rents for modernization although they have accumulated hundreds of millions of Euro from the tenants in recent years. Tenant organizers also demand that the financialised former public company LEG (95,000 housing units) immediately stops and revises its many unjustified rent increases in cities like Bochum, Bielefeld, Dortmund, Düsseldorf and Witten. And they call on the French Real Estate Investment Trust “Foncière des Régions” to stop the pressure against the tenants of the neighbourhood “Zinkhüttenplatz” in Duisburg. There, its subsidiary “Immeo” wants to sell the land of a well-designed social housing estate to the developer of a huge Factory Outlet Centre (FOC). For the construction of this gigantic and destructive shopping center the housing schemes have to be demolished. Immeo since years is trying to push out the tenants, mostly elderly steel workers. But a part of them is consequently resisting.
Local activists from DUBLIN accuse the National Assets Management Agency (NAMA), Ireland’s ‘bad bank’, for selling parts of their city to massive financial institutions with an interest in cheap real estate or cheap debt linked to real estate. With implementation of a Strategic Development Zone in Dublin’s Docklands NAMA wants to establish a ‘fast track planning’ in order to attract international “investors” without any strategy around social or affordable housing.
The SERBIAN government is accused for the project “Belgrade on the Water” which it presented at this year’s MIPIM. This so-called masterplan is another word for a land grab which will encourage international land banking, expropriation and consolidation of prime riverside land, the use of political power to sell off public land for the benefit of transnational capital and the United Arab Emirates, and the seeking of party-political gains by Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, whose political career is directly responsible for the war in Yugoslavia, and whose government has only further dispossessed the people of Serbia.
In 2003, when TURKEY participated in the MIPIM the first time, more than 20 projects in Istanbul were showcased for the global capital. Among these was the Haydarpaşaport project which aims to gentrify the area around the main train station on the Asian side of the city and to turn the ages old Ottoman cultural heritage Haydarpaşa Station into a hotel. Another 2004 Mipim showcase, the Galataport project, targeted the main harbour and its vicinity. The regeneration of the historical Fener-Balat neighbourhood and of deindustrialized Kartal were other projects at the MIPIM 2004. These projects which have no public benefit at all are still on the agenda. Galataport and Kartal regeneration have almost started. Thanks to its neoliberal urban agenda, Turkey was selected as the “country of honour” in MIPIM 2013 and one of the 3 “countries of honour” in 2014. Projects of displacement and forced evictions, projects that devastate natural sites such as Emaar Square in Camlica or Maslak 42 were exhibited. Developer Ali Ağaoğlu whose bribery operations and corruption scandals leaked lately was hailed as a prominent figure in MIPIM 2013. Besides, the luxurious project of informal Derbent neighbourhood was put on exhibition while the inhabitants had been holding negotiations with the local municipality! In 2014 MIPIM, Zorlu Center Mall, actually a public land grabbing project which furnished an unbelievably high rent to developer Zorlu (thus a disgrace to the city) was among the candidates for best practices! It is no wonder that MIPIM presents Turkey as ”…one of the largest and most dynamic construction industries and an expanding international coverage” since urban lands of the country – especially those in the big cities – are for sale to global capital while the populations are faced with housing rights violations of all kinds
Parallel or in context with the activities in Cannes the following decentralised actions took place or will take place, organized by local organisations in the cities:
In Sabadell near Barcelona the Platform of Victims of the Mortage and the Crisis (PAHC) since 5th March has been occupying a bank office protesting against forced evictions of several families.
On Thursday 6th March housing groups and residents from across London demonstrated outside the London City Hall to express their anger at Mayor Boris Johnson and over 20 UK councils participating in the MIPIM conference.
On Saturday 8th March a local group in Düsseldorf, Germany, organized an open meeting in a housing estate of the former public landlord LEG, which via Goldman Sachs meanwhile is being traded at the stock exchange. In Düsseldorf – as in many other cases – LEG has increased the rents heavily.
In Duisburg, Germany, the Peoples’ Initiative Zinkhüttenplatz calls for a protest in front of the building of the landlord Immeo Wohnen in Oberhausen at 24th March, 1 p.m.. Immeo is a subsidiary of the French “Fonciere des Regions”. The tenants demand that Immeo stops the plans to sell their housing estate to a developer who wants to demolish it for a huge Factory Outlet Center.
In Portugal, on March 26th, residents from different popular neighbourhoods of Amadora (near to Lisbon) will promote a convergence process of the struggle: a demonstration will be organized in front of the City Hall of Amadora because this has been a major player in the execution of hundreds of evictions on land recently bought by speculation funds like Millennium-BCP. Moreover, this town hall has also increased social rents, impoverishing the families of social housing neighbourhoods and forcing them into the rental market
In Athens, on March 15th, groups, individuals and social movements fighting for the right to housing and the city, will demonstrate in front of the seat of TAIPED in the center of Athens (Kolokotroni Square) against the privatisation of public land and property, which leads to the displacement of local groups and their usage, and the delivery of public assets to private speculation.
The European Action Coalition for the Right to Housing and the City will continue to coordinate transnational action in solidarity against the subordination of our lives and spaces under the interests of the rich and powerful. As a next step we plan to build a common call for a coordinated campaign towards an European moratorium on forced evictions and for a vitalization of social public housing as a common in whole Europe. We also will continue to observe and to challenge speculators and privatisers. Our aim is to build a strong action coalition of all grass root groups which struggle for the right to housing and the city of everybody.
HOUSING IS A HUMAN RIGHT AND NOT A FINANCIAL ASSET!
LET’S ORGANIZE OUR URBAN COMMONS AGAINST THE GLOBAL BUSINESS!
22nd March 2014
The European Action Coalition for the Right to Housing and the City
Members of the European Action Coalition who participated in the production of this paper: (confirmed = confirmation of support of this text)
- Bond Precaire Woonvormen (Netherlands)
- Droit au Logement Federation (DAL, France) , confirmed
- Droit au Logement Alpes Maritime (France)
- EcounterAthens confirmed
- Dublin group of the European Action Coalition for the Right to Housing and the City
- Habita – Colectivo pelo Direito à Habiação e à Cidade (Lisbon), confirmed
- Habitat et Participation, Solidarités Nouvelles, Réseau brabançon pour le droit au logement (Belgium)
- Habitat International Coalition supports the text
- International Alliance of Inhabitants (IAI), confirmed
- MieterInnnenverein Witten (Witten Tenants Association, Germany) and Anti-Mipim Rhine-Ruhr confirmed
- No Vox (France/international), confirmed
- Plataforma d’Afectats per la Hipoteca de Barcelona/Afectats per la Hipoteca i la Crisi de Sabadell (Catalonia)
- Radical Housing Network (London)
- Solidarity for all (Athens) confirmed
- SPOK (speculation research collective, Amsterdam)
- Tribunal des Evictions Geneve
- Unione Inquilini (Tenants Union, Italy), confirmed
- Urban Movements Istanbul, confirmed
More information/links related to the Anti-Mipim 2014:
Documentation of accusations at
SOME MEDIA REPORTING ABOUT ANTI-MIPIM
- AFP El foro inmobiliario proclama el regreso de España
- France 3 25e Mipim à Cannes : l’immobilier, un eldorado financier cible d’une contestation populaire
- il Ghirlandaio 25e Mipim: l’immobilier, un eldorado financier cible d’une contestation populaire
- the Guardian (UK) Anger at Cannes property fair where councils rub shoulders with oligarchs
- Neues Deutschland (D) Marktplatz der Immobilienspekulanten Ein Tribunal gegen die Spekulation
- ImmobilienZeitung (D) Die Anti-Mipim: Tribunal gegen das Immobilienkapital Interview
- Solihome (FR) MIPIM vs Anti-MIPIM
- der Standard (A) Der expandierende “Mipimismus” und seine Feinde
by European Action Coalition for the Right to Housng and the City, Dublin
The National Assets Management Agency, Ireland’s ‘bad bank’, attended this year’s MIPIM conference. The agency, which has about EURO 20 bn in real estate assets, was set up following the financial crisis to save the Irish banks from their own reckless lending by buying their toxic real estate assets. Its job is now to sell those, so it can give the banks the EURO 32 bn it promised them.
As a huge player in the Dublin property market, NAMA’s main focus is on selling parts of our city to massive financial institutions with an interest in cheap real estate or cheap debt linked to real estate. Companies like Blackstone, Lonestar Capital and Oaktree Capital have already been buying assets from the bad bank. But the upcoming implementation of a Strategic Development Zone in Dublin’s Docklands is set to move things up a gear. A Strategic Development Zone is a provision in Irish planning law to designate a specific area for ‘fast-track planning’. The idea is simple; get rid of the planning appeals process. NAMA has said that ‘fast track planning’ is vital to attract international “investors” to “Ireland’s most important internationally marketable land bank”. The strategic Development Zone, moreover, has been designed to exclude the traditional inner-city working class communities and does not include any strategy around social or affordable housing.
To be clear, NAMA is an agency set up by the state but with a blatantly commercial focus largely oriented around selling our city to international financial firms. The fact such a significant and expensive public institution holding one of the largest property portfolios in the Europe has adopted such a narrow commercial remit could not be more symptomatic of the Irish state’s failure to responds to the need to develop sustainable cities and respond to the housing crisis. With a over 100,000 people on the social housing waiting lists, the same number again unable to pay their mortgages, and the number of families becoming homeless in Dublin doubling, how can selling office blocks to hedge funds be the priority? No doubt this is what NAMA was explaining to its ‘international partners’ at this year’s MIPIM.
Message from Urban Movements Istabul to the Anti-Mipim tribunal.
1 – A European anti-MIPIM Initiative:
For the past twenty-five years, Cannes has been the site of MIPIM (Marché International des Professionnels de l’Immobilier) which, as the name indicates, is a market for the sale of land, mostly public, for high-value real estate projects.
Meanwhile, since 1990 [nineteen ninety], the housing crisis has worsened across the planet:
- Globally, one billion human beings have precarious shelter or live on the street;
- In France, as assessed by the Abbé Pierre Foundation, the housing crisis is deepening, particularly in the Paris region.
MIPIM does not help humanity. It is the means for a small elite to enrich themselves at the expense of the huge majority of citizens. It leads to exclusion, the unequal distribution of urban space and an ever-increasing number of poorly-housed or homeless persons.
MIPIM has no goal but profit. It offers to speculators – the most powerful, the most well-supported by the banking sector, the most complicit with the political world – the opportunity to purchase land that is for the most part public. These lands are often sold as part of planned developments set in place by public authorities, or in huge bursts precipitated by real-estate fever.
Housing movements in fifteen European countries, brought together to coordinate for the right to housing and to cities, have decided to organize for the first time a campaign against the devastating effects of MIPIM, and to expose them to the public. The ultimate goal is to reach a turning point in housing policy, in multiple countries and especially in Europe, so that the right to housing and to cities is a right for everyone, and so that speculation – the source of extreme social and economic instability – gets contained and banished.
2 – In the Paris region, the politics of housing and development elevate the market and degrade the residents.
2.1 – Signs that the housing crisis is worsening
The Paris region, particularly in its most dense zones, has been subject to intense speculation, nourished and maintained by public actors from the construction, finance and housing sectors.
In 2012 [two thousand twelve], the Paris region saw 545 000 [five hundred and forty-five thousand] demands for social housing – one household out of six – while only around 50 000 [fifty thousand] social housing units were distributed.
Nearly one million households receive public assistance to pay their rent, which is almost one out of every three.
There were 31 000 [thirty-one thousand] judicial decisions supporting evictions in the Paris region, representing one quarter of the French total, and of the French evictions carried out by the police, nearly half were in our region.
41 000 [forty-one thousand] regional households, recognized and prioritized by the Law for the Enforceable Right to Housing – the Dalo Act of March fifth, 2007 [two thousand seven] – are still waiting for rehousing. 33 000 [thirty-three thousand] of them have been waiting for more than six months, which is the maximum delay allowed by the law.
Finally, and a sign of the deepening crisis, the last fifteen years have seen a resurgence of shantytowns in the Paris region – these had earlier been completely absorbed into the city – and the number of homeless persons who are being rejected by emergency shelter services is steadily rising.
2.2 – The housing shortage is at its peak
This shortage is fueling the soaring costs of property, real estate and rent:
- There is an under-production of new homes as a result of the Malthusian housing policies of many municipalities. In 2013 [two thousand thirteen], 49 000 [forty-nine thousand] housing projects were started, of which less than 15 000 [fifteen thousand] were social housing.
- This is far from the annual targets established by the Paris region, which called for 70 000 [seventy thousand] new homes, including 20 000 [twenty thousand] as social housing.
- This is even further from the objectives set by François Hollande, which would amount to 100 000 [one hundred thousand] new homes per year, including 30 000 [thirty thousand] as social housing, if you count the Paris region as representing twenty percent of the French population. The amplitude of the additional needs arising from the housing crisis is not taken into account here.
3 – The public policy of the state, the region, the departments and the majority of municipalities in the Paris region have produced this unprecedented surge in the costs of property, real estate and rent.
- In 2013 [two thousand thirteen], the average selling price of a new apartment in the region was €5900/m2 [five thousand nine hundred euros per square meter]. In 2000 [two thousand], it was €3000/m2 [three thousand euros per square meter]. Prices have doubled for no reason other than land speculation.
- The average private rent in the region is €18.8/m2 [eighteen point eight euros per square meter], against less than €11/m2 [eleven euros per square meter] in 2000.
- The price of land or buildings has tripled. It is in this sector that public actors are most to blame.
3.1 – The political blame they share:
- The municipalities are the local controllers of planning policies and the delivery of construction permits. They have pushed up prices through their urban development policies by initiating operations in working-class neighbourhoods, limiting the construction of housing and, for the richest of them, blocking the creation of social housing. Many have preferred building offices rather than lodging. 3.8 million m2 [three point eight million square meters] of office space are vacant – this is equivalent to 60 000 [sixty thousand] homes, or almost two years of regional housing construction! Land transfer taxes were increased in order to reinforce development and gentrification policies, particularly in the richest communes, instead of fighting against the housing crisis by, for example, investing in the production of low-cost social housing.
- The General Councils of the seven regional departments, particularly the richest among them, prefer to sell their property to the highest bidder, rather than to entrust them to public housing developers. Because they profit from the land transfer taxes, the councils are discouraged from fighting against speculation. The sales of the ancient quarters of the gendarmerie and the real estate of the Parisian hospitals are emblematic.
- The Paris region: Except for financial support for the construction of social housing, the Paris region has not played its role as moderator and watchdog. Faced with real estate speculation and municipal development practices, they’ve found rising prices to be in their financial interest. We’ve got to keep an eye on a number of vacant schools, which may soon be fed to real estate speculators.
- The state (along with the communes) is principally to blame for the situation.
- On the one hand, since the middle of the last decade, the large-scale market-price sale of the properties and buildings of public administrations and enterprises has become a governmental priority. As a result, the housing crisis has worsened.
- The state has also found a financial interest in the raising of land transfer taxes, allowing it to offload certain social responsibilities and duties onto the departmental governments (such as welfare provision and the Parisian public hospital system).
- Finally, and most importantly, the state has encouraged the overheating of the real estate and property markets, using tax breaks to promote the purchase of new private housing by the rich, and refusing to regulate the market, which would break the real estate fever and lower rental prices.
- Supporting developers and the real estate market has been a governmental priority, so that the 2009 [two thousand nine] economic crisis only marginally impacted real estate and rental prices (thanks to safety measures put in place by the Sarkozy government to protect developers and their financial backers). Prices have declined in many countries, but France has the highest among the rich countries, relative to household income.
- It should also be noted that since 2002 [two thousand two] the state, while reducing funding for social housing, has also done nothing to reorganize the region to make it more efficient against the housing crisis.
- The most recent law, which created the metropolis of Paris, has been challenged by numerous politicians. The abilities and organization of this new municipal organization are so vague that they can only perpetuate the existing bad policies.
- Greater Paris:
- In order to streamline the organization of the region, and with the hope of pushing the city to the forefront of the world’s metropolises, several laws have been adopted that lay the groundwork for this new political stratum. However, the supervision and regulation of prices – especially for land – has only been marginally addressed.
- This new body may fund and support the market, in other words, export Parisian prices to the periphery, with neither the aim nor the will to enforce the right to housing for all at an accessible price.
- The corporation of greater Paris, which precedes this new metropolitan body, subcontracts the management of the region’s land to the AFTRP, the Technical Agency for Property in the Paris Region. This organization, which had its head office occupied by the poorly-housed on January 11th [eleventh], have a heavy presence at MIPIM, because they sell so many public lands.
4 – The MIPIM are selling off our heritage. Enough!
What are the properties for sale in the Paris region? Basically, urban and peri-urban land:
- Deindustrialized tracts of land;
- Land in working-class neighbourhoods, opened up by urban planning (which is rare in rich areas);
- Land and buildings sold by the government and public enterprises;
- Protected peri-urban zones and urban agricultural lands that can be developed quickly, notably those managed by public land organizations similar to the AFTRP.
These lands are mostly public, owned by local authorities, municipalities, communes, departments, and state-controlled administrative enterprises. The AFTRP is one of the technical institutions that offers land to the highest bidder.
This is why we’ve come together to denounce our own public authorities, those we elected to serve us but instead send representatives to MIPIM:
- They come to commodify our neighbourhoods, those in which we can still afford to live, and encourage rising rents and property prices. These policies chase us to the periphery, far from the economic centers where we can find employment.
- They come to sell our public lands to speculators. We, the residents of the affected districts; the badly-housed and homeless, hit hard by costly housing and the recession; the tenants of public housing; youths and migrants forced to live in expensive, cramped and indecent housing; the middle classes who sink deeply into long-term debt to these same financiers to buy a home; we are being squeezed out of OUR living spaces. WE are the huge majority of the regional population, those who require decent, affordable, energy-efficient housing close to work.
- And they come to trample our interests, the public interest that would explore all of the ways to keep people in their neighbourhoods, to construct lodgings for those who need them, to curb real estate and land speculation through dissuasive tax measures, and to build energy-efficient housing.
We therefore demand, from the Paris region but equally from all regions:
- The immediate cessation of all public land sales to those in private real estate, especially those sharks, vulture and other predators who participate at MIPIM;
- The allocation of land towards the construction of social housing, the development of emergency accommodations for the homeless and those who live in indecent and abnormal shelters, and support for those activities that generate employment in the general interest;
- The transformation of vacant office space into social housing, principally in the areas west of Paris, which is mostly a corporate zone;
- The taxation of profits coming from real estate and land speculation, and the use of these taxes to finance social housing;
- The establishment of an emergency plan to create 50 000 [fifty thousand] vacant homes – through development and building requisition – to satisfy the legal right to housing, and to provide shelter for those who await relocation;
- And that the new Metropolitan Paris political body be given the capacity to enforce these measures and to lower housing prices to a level compatible with the income of the majority of regional inhabitants.
Down with speculation!
Our neighbourhoods are not for sale!
A roof is a right!
 See the studies of Jacques Frigit on the subject, published by the Minister of Housing.