Solidarity as a temporary social infrastructure

Anti-eviction struggles in Serbia during the pandemic

Ana Vilenica, Vladimir Mentus, Tanja Šljivar, Petra Murić (Združena akcija Krov nad glavom/the Roof)

Published in Issue 3.1 // Updates

Keywords: COVID-19, Serbia, anti-eviction struggle, mutual aid, solidarity

Abstract:

During the pandemic, anti-eviction and food solidarity work continued to be an important self-organised, social and political, people-activist and radical infrastructure. Although the catastrophic effects of the so-called “funniest virus in history” in Serbia are gaining momentum, the state not only does not have mechanisms to weaken them but systematically hinders and criminalizes self-organized mutual aid efforts. The Roof, a self-organized anti-eviction direct-action collective, has to be more active than ever. While the evictions were temporarily put on hold during the first lockdown, the collective shifted its focus to solidarity with the most socially deprived individuals, collecting and redirecting (mutual) aid, especially in the form of food, hygiene products, and pharmaceuticals. However, after the curfew and lock-down came to an end, public-private bailiffs resumed orchestrating evictions. Although solidarity played an essential role in the pandemic’s survival, its criminalization on charges related to anti-eviction activities also intensified during this period. An additional burden on the socially deprived, already pandemically-devastated, is the suddenly announced transfer of almost a million old debt cases to public-private bailiffs in course of the next two years.

The Roof (Združena akcija Krov nad glavom) is a self-organized intergenerational collective founded in 2017. It brings together people united in the fight for the right to home. Fighting evictions with direct action is its primary focus. The collective also provides legal assistance and other forms of direct aid to eviction victims, and puts different kinds of pressure on the state, bailiffs, local governments, courts, and banks. Along with urgent legal changes and the abolition of private bailiffs, the collective struggles to bring about a housing policy that would take into account the needs of all the members of society, and open space at the local level for all citizens to be democratically involved in the decision-making process on how their living space will be arranged as a member of the Movement for Housing Justice. The Roof is a member of the European Action Coalition for the Right to Housing and the City, a convergence between social movements from different cities in european countries.

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