‘Squatters are not home stealers’ | Society | The Guardian

The 'vertical slum' ... Torre David in Caracas is a 45-storey tower block that houses some 2,500 squatters. Photograph: Iwan Baan/Urban-Think Tank

The ‘vertical slum’ … Torre David in Caracas is a 45-storey tower block that houses some 2,500 squatters. Photograph: Iwan Baan/Urban-Think Tank

‘Squatters are not home stealers’ | Society | The Guardian.

The criminalising of squatters in Britain is part of a Europe-wide backlash. But with at least 10% of the world population squatting, can they really be a menace to society?

But if squatting is on the retreat in Europe, it has exploded in the rest of the world. According to a recent UN estimate, some 800 to 900 million people around the world are technically squatters – over 10% of the world’s population. The socio-economic conditions are different: these are overwhelmingly rural migrants settling on the outskirts of cities. But these are still people occupying land they do not own, without permission. Questions of whether or not squatting benefits society are redundant here; squatting is society. In Mumbai, India, for example, slum-dwellers represent roughly 60% of the population. In Turkish cities, it is roughly 50%, Brazilian cities, 20%.

'They're not mafias. They are law-abiding citizens, workers' ... squatters in the Dharavi slum in Mumbai. Photograph: Bethany Clarke/Getty Images

‘They’re not mafias. They are law-abiding citizens, workers’ … squatters in the Dharavi slum in Mumbai. Photograph: Bethany Clarke/Getty Images

These squat neighbourhoods are often referred to as slums, shanty towns, favelas or bidonvilles. They are often characterised as grim places, with poor sanitation, high crime rates, drug gangs, and other problems. But it’s often a misconception, says Robert Neuwirth, author of Shadow Cities: A Billion Squatters. He spent two years living in slums in four of the world’s largest cities: Mumbai, Nairobi, Istanbul and Rio de Janeiro. “They’re not criminal enterprises. They’re not mafias,” he says. “These are people, law-abiding citizens, workers. People who wait on the tables and clean the rooms in the tourist hotels. People help each other and take care of each other. These were wonderful places to live, once you step beyond the fact that they don’t have a sewer system.”

Read the whole article on the Guardian:

‘Squatters are not home stealers’ | Society | The Guardian.

About Ares

Ares Kalandides holds a PhD in Urban and Regional Studies from the National Technical University of Athens. He is the founder and CEO of Inpolis, an international consultancy based in Berlin, Germany and has implement several projects around the world. Ares teaches Urban Economics at the Technical University in Berlin and Metropolitan Studies at NYU Berlin.
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