‘Batti il 5!’
Grassroots Strategies Against the Administrative Invisibilization of Rome’s Housing Squatters Before and During the Pandemic
Keywords: Article 5, squatting, housing crisis, Housing Rights Movements, Rome
Since the 2008 financial crash, housing vulnerability has been acknowledged as a determinant in the erosion of the social and territorial cohesion that is jeopardising the existence of urban communities. However, this recognition departs from the reality of housing policies implemented by states, who largely prioritise the continuity of neoliberal urbanisation over the pursuit of spatialised justice. This approach is exemplified by Article 5 of the 2014 Italian National Housing Plan, which represents the core of governmental effort to repress grassroots responses to the habitation crisis that exploded post-2008. The law aims to discourage the phenomenon of squatting vacant urban space for dwelling by stripping the possibility of housing squatters to have a legally registered address, hence of the civil and social rights connected to formally reckoned urban citizenship. Drawing upon the ethnographic materials collected during my activist-research since 2015 inside the Blocchi Precari Metropolitani collective (as part of the larger Housing Rights Movements, hereby HRMs), the article discusses the practical, political and theoretical relevance of grassroots strategies and contentious politics adopted by the HRMs in Rome to contrast the effects of the law from 2014 onwards, focusing on the critical turning point of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.