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People's housing: 'Green', expensive commodity in the EU and capitalism. The communists' proposal for a way out
The event of the European Parliamentary Group of the KKE titled “People's housing: 'Green', expensive commodity in the EU and capitalism. The communists' proposal for a way out”, which took place on Monday 5 December in the European Parliament in Brussels, was an opportunity for communists to present their valuable militant experience from the struggles for the defence of people's houses in Greece, Spain and Sweden.
The introductory speech was presented by the MEP of the KKE Lefteris Nikolaou-Alavanos. This was followed by contributions by: Yannis Tasioulas, President of the Federation of Greek Builders and member of the CC of the KKE, Valsamos Syrigos, General Secretary of the Federation of Greek Builders and member of the CC of the KKE, Javier Martin Rodriguez, member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of the Workers of Spain (PCTE) and Patrik Pettersson, member of the International Relations Section of the Communist Party of Sweden (SKP). The event was coordinated by Kostas Papadakis, MEP and member of the CC of the KKE, and attended by workers from the construction sector in Greece, students from the National Technical University of Athens, as well as students living in student accommodation.
Lefteris Nikolaou-Alavanos, MEP of the KKE
Auctions of the main house for 2,500€ utility debts. Evictions for 15,000€ credit card debts. The generalization of auctions even of the main houses, the evictions by business groups, with bailiffs and the police breaking down doors at 5am aiming to throw people out of their homes, caused the immediate reaction of the mass organizations of the popular movement, in order to build a wall of protection against them. The KKE, the class labour movement highlights the issue, by organizing the struggle against auctions through dozens of contributions, including to the European Parliament, already in 2019, in the face of the new wave that was coming.
The European Parliament, the capitalist European Union, has been very concerned with the issue of housing. The European Central Bank and the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs of the European Parliament have expressed their concerns on many occasions about the large volume of the accumulated loan debts to ensure the uninterrupted collectability and profitability of banks and funds. No matter how much they try to smooth out the situation and the harsh reality that the peoples of the EU live in, and avoid "social outbreaks", the huge housing issue cannot be hidden.
From their data, it is evident that in 2020 the number of popular families in the EU who lost their homes doubled. It is estimated that over 20 million (4.8%) people experienced a grave housing issue. To these people, we must add another high percentage, which lives in overcrowded houses or in houses that do not meet modern criteria (no heating or cooling, no sewage facilities, exposed one way or another to the weather conditions). We are not even talking about ensuring other basic and necessary modern needs (such as children having their own room or space for reading, proximity of the house to recreational areas, etc.)
The cost of housing reached an all-time high record in 2020. More than 40% of their income was spent on housing by at least 8% of the total EU population. In Denmark, the 15% of the population spends more than 40% of income on housing costs. In Greece, 62.1% of renters spent more than 50% of their disposable income on housing costs. During the pandemic and quarantine and from now on, the price of apartments with a balcony or garden took off.
This is connected to the soaring housing prices. In the first half of 2022, according to the data of the Commission, the overvaluation of houses reached 20% in 12 Member States (Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Ireland, Latvia, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, and Slovenia), while in 4 Member States it exceeded 20% (Czech Republic, Lithuania, Estonia, Hungary).
Their "crocodile tears" show that what really concerns them is the great difficulties of the popular families to pay the mortgages they have got, with their wages and incomes crushed by the high prices and inflation, because they pose a problem for the capitalist profitability.
Therefore, the measures they prioritize focus on the protection of financial institutions (funds and banks), the rehabilitation of the real estate market from debt, and the strengthening of the single capitalist market. In short: selling off non-performing loans (NPLs) to private funds – vultures, with even the very banks that grant the loans participating in their share capital, and fast-track auctions.
Through reports and resolutions, these anti-peoples' strategic directions are specified and spearheaded by the European Parliament. Such as the ECON report on credit managers, credit purchasers and collateral recovery voted in the European Parliament plenum in October 2021, which facilitates the buying and selling of red loans, with further buying and selling between such "credit purchasers" to financial groups to proceed at their discretion and to their advantage to conduct foreclosures and auctions of people's homes and property, for which there is no longer any protection.
But also those with the hypocritical titles "Tackling homelessness rates in the EU" (November 2020) and "Access to decent and affordable housing for all" (January 2021). The timing of the EP's choice to discuss these reports is no coincidence. The bourgeois staff had predicted the sharp increase in housing prices, the increase in household debt and the volume of non-performing loans, and the reduction in the profitability of the business groups in the real estate market, as we mentioned above.
The reports are based on the logic of the minimum, the main line of the EU to contain the extreme poverty through the "European Pillar of Social Rights". It is in fact a propaganda tool, which attempts to present the capitalist EU as the defender of the weak, at the very moment when it is tearing up all the 'social protection' nets (insurance, health care, social welfare, workers' housing, among others) that the workers had achieved for decades through their struggles, and handing them over to the monopoly groups for exploitation, either in the form of SAs or NGOs.
In essence, two issues, key-issues for the industry groups, concern them regarding housing: the ownership of the properties and their specifications.
The protection from homelessness and affordable housing that the EU proclaims through these reports only goes so far as to draw up a list of good evictions, providing instructions to banks and funds on how to throw popular families on the street in a supposedly fair way. That is, not by breaking down the door at 5am, but at 7.30am after the morning coffee. And the proposals for "evictions with guaranteed relocation" actually sugarcoat the pill for the popular families who are losing their properties, while further increasing the profit margin of housing companies as they turn families into tenants of their own homes.
The plan that the government of the New Democracy is implementing based on the bankruptcy law, with the assistance of the previous government of SYRIZA, which legislated the sale of the main home, the electronic auctions and the criminalization of mobilizations against them, is a foreseeable crime, since the Commission already from the end of 2021 predicts for a reduction of 12% of the debt of households / GDP for 2023. And since the people's income is not going to increase in order to begin to repay their mortgages, what will happen is the acceleration of the liquidation of non-performing loans and foreclosures. The government's alleged "intervention" in the "systemic banks" to protect the most "vulnerable" would sound like a joke, if the situation in which tens of thousands of people's families have found themselves was not truly tragic.
The massive transfer of popular property to funds, combined with the eviction from their homes, "fits in" with the plan of commercial-tourism development in the centre of Athens, the investments in Elliniko region, etc. The skyrocketing rents and property prices are the result of the expansion of the tourism sector, short-term rentals, the unaffordable prices in restaurants and entertainment that accompany it, which are being passed on to the resident/consumer.
The other side is the strengthening of the big construction groups, so that, under the pretext of securing affordable housing, money will flow to construction companies for a new round of constructions, repairs, energy upgrading and the green renovations of housing renovations, which will generate a new wave of profits to the business groups. Τhis is also the direction in which the plans of the government of the New Democracy for the alleged provision of "social housing", "student housing", subsidised rents or subsidised mortgages are moving. Programmes implemented or announced with variations also by SYRIZA and PASOK, and local administration, are part of the EU directives, Recovery and Resilience Facility, and the National Strategic Reference Framework and implemented in many EU states, conservative or social democratic, "feeding" groups and banks. Such programmes target the most impoverished popular strata so that the bourgeois state can manage the most extreme phenomena of poverty created by the intensification of exploitation and the inability to repay mortgages.
In this context, the EP calls for €57 billion in aid to construction groups, and the number of homeless people across the EU, including entire working class families, is rising dramatically. The bourgeois press reports on these new, green homes are typical. As "Kathimerini" newspaper (21/11/2022) points out, high energy performance properties have recorded a 24% price increase in two years, reaching 4,100€/square metre. In Elliniko region, the starting price is 7,500€ reaching up to 26,000€! Therefore, it is obvious that such houses do not address the poor working class and popular strata.
The second part is the "energy upgrade" of old houses with various programmes, such as the Home Energy Savings Programme. Such programmes today, when energy costs and energy poverty are crushing the peoples due to the EU strategy for liberalization and the Pollution and Energy Exchange are sold as a solution for the working class families.
In fact, these are actions that not only fail to provide a substantial solution to the energy poverty problem of the working class families, but actually exacerbate it. The real aim is the indirect subsidy, through the technical solutions they impose (certified insulation materials, high-cost frames, etc.) of the large monopoly groups that produce them, the acceleration of the sharp devaluation of the investments of popular households in heating/cooling and in housing in general. At the same time, attempts are being made to cultivate a climate of acceptance of the so-called green growth, obscuring the fact that its true face is the extremely expensive electricity from renewable energy sources, the plundered mountains and forests, the destruction of small property and the tens of billions of Euros in subsidies to the monopoly groups.
The few popular households that are eligible are forced to make large expenditures of their own, while these programmes are used as a means of justifying the extremely high tariffs of liberalized energy.
The European Parliamentary Group of the KKE has highlighted the EU's strategy at the expense of popular housing, through our interventions in the plenum of the European Parliament against the auctions of people's houses, for putting into practice the slogan "the people will save the peoples’ houses", for building a working class and popular wall of protection against the vultures of funds and banks. With questions to the European Commission about the wild race of rents, the high prices in the popular housing, the selling off of loans to private banks that the workers, the small self-employed, are unable to repay, because of the exorbitant interest rates, and other unacceptable charges, with the risk of losing the labours of a lifetime are now visible. Of course, it is a provocation that banks and funds are buying people's houses cut-price and reselling them at their commercial price, but the opposition of the people is not about a more beneficial sale, but about the protection of popular housing and the right of the workers and their families to live free of uncertainty in a modern, cheap and quality housing.
We sought to highlight two important points. First, that with some variations, the working people in all the EU countries face common problems, originating in the fact that housing, in the capitalist mode of production, instead of being a social good, it is turned into profitable commodities for the business groups, which are making profit without mercy, draining the working people's income, by using all means, threats, blackmail, courts. That is, that it is not a "structural problem" of the Greek economy, nor a "distortion" of the real estate market, since the same problems are faced by the peoples.
Secondly, that at the EU level, the New Democracy, SYRIZA, PASOK/KINAL have jointly formed and promoted this unacceptable, anti-peoples’ strategy of the EU, which kicks the working people out of their homes, giving their livelihood to the monopoly groups. It turns out that all of them have great commitments that prove that whatever government they form, it will follow that anti-peoples’ road.
The Greek people must take courage from the mass, successful mobilizations for the cancellation of auctions, prevention of evictions and protection of peoples’ homes. Against the plans of the EU - governments - capital that want housing to be an unaffordable commodity, the people can demand immediate relief and liberation from the burden of debts, for the abolition of auctions in the main and secondary popular residence, "green" taxes, the Unified Property Ownership Tax (ENFIA), a cap on student rents, interest-free loans for young couples and a comprehensive housing planning under the responsibility of the state. It is proven that the need for cheap and quality housing for the working class and popular households today is being crushed and suppressed by the capitalist market and the serving of the profitability of the business groups.
The other path is permanently engraved in the socialism built in the 20th century, in the USSR, in the other socialist countries. With the socialization of the basic and concentrated means of production, central, scientific nationwide planning, the conversion of housing and land into popular property and the recognition of housing as a social right and good, it managed in just a few years to draw up modern housing and urban planning designs to meet the needs of housing, heating, recreation, sports and culture. Therefore, the solution can’t be found in the big words of so-called saviours and others who call for the management of this rotten system, but in the organized, mass, and coordinated struggle of the workers and the people for their contemporary needs.
Gannis Tasioulas, President of the Federation of Greek Builders and Member of the CC of the KKE
The issue of housing or, to put it more precisely, the issue of meeting the housing needs of the working class and popular families has always been a great front of struggle of the labour movement, of the communists who act within it.
The meeting of housing needs reflects comprehensively the connection with the contemporary needs and how they develop over time, based on the evolution of life and the possibilities to meet them, to provide real prosperity and progress for the lives of the workers.
The concept of housing needs includes not only the acquisition of a house, but also anything related to it that facilitates the life of the working class and popular family.
It is related to:
- The need for all family members to be able to have their own space in the house. The children should have their own room for studying, playing, resting, the parents should have theirs for resting, a separate room as home office, etc.
- The need for workers to be able to cover the costs related to the use of heating, electricity, connection to water supply, sewerage.
- Meeting the respective housing need that arises when the child of the family moves to a different city to study, away from their area of residence.
- Providing the possibility for a young person to acquire a house quickly and not being forced, due to economic conditions, to live with their family even at the age of 35 and 40.
- The connection of the transport network and smooth access to the workplace and back.
- The existence of the necessary infrastructure, nurseries, schools, primary health centres, sports facilities, for the needs of families.
- The construction of safe, quality housing and infrastructure, with earthquake protection, and an extensive system of flood and fire protection in the area where they are located.
- The possibility of maintenance, upgrading and modernization of housing.
For the bourgeois state and capital it is convenient to squeeze the needs, which constitute a coherent whole, thus facilitating the commercialization "by the piece" and entrepreneurial action.
In the early 2000s, interest in housing construction was high among the companies in the sector because it provided the desired profitability.
With the beginning of the capitalist crisis in 2009, there was a big drop, leaving thousands of houses unoccupied due to financial weakness, even though the workers had enormous needs.
The governments of the capital, attempting to hide the unmet housing needs, used the argument that owner-occupied housing in Greece had reached a very high level (85%). If we were to focus only on that fact, meaning who owns a house and who doesn't, then we would have to come to the conclusion that the bourgeois state was trying to achieve, that the problem was not acute.
We might say here that who owns the house is also relevant, since the actual owner is the bank, and even when you go through fire and water to pay the mortgage, you finally acquire ownership of the house when it has been depreciated after many years. But precisely because we assess the issue from the point of view of the contemporary popular needs, we highlighted it comprehensively, helping the working class organizations to form a framework of struggle and demands based on their needs and not on the interests of the capitalists.
Therefore, every bourgeois government policy prioritizes the issue of the number of people who own a house and their last priority is whether the house is protected against earthquakes, floods, and whether it meets the overall housing needs. It is easy to understand why.
The sale of residential housing to workers, through their over-indebtedness to banks and big construction companies, generates more profit and at the same time offers the prospect of the housing returning to the bankers, compared to the construction of necessary and complete infrastructures, flood protection projects, in which modern and safe housing will be included.
Every year in our country, the houses of the working-class, popular families are affected by floods, are ruined by earthquakes, properties and lives are lost. The bourgeois state, in an attempt to hide its responsibilities, speaks of unforeseeable events that cannot be tackled. On the other hand, when it feels the pressure from the struggle and demands of the workers, it pledges to take measures to limit the risks, without ever doing so. At the same time, it promotes the mandatory private insurance of newly built houses in order to invoke its complete exemption from any compensation and responsibility for disasters caused by earthquakes, floods or fires. In addition, it imposes on the working class, popular families the so-called "green standards" and heavy taxes so that they can obtain the so-called energy certificate, forcing even the few popular households included in various programmes, such as the “Home Energy Savings Programme”, to make large expenditures of their own, either to build or renovate their house from their own savings.
Housing in capitalism will be very expensive for the workers, because it is considered a commodity and not a social good that all workers should enjoy on the basis of their work.
As an expensive commodity it will be accessible to less and less people. More and more people will be at risk of foreclosure.
The bourgeois state and its governments have ensured that the interests of the banks are safeguarded, making it easier for them to snatch the houses of the people.
The previous government of SYRIZA, which falsely describes itself as left-wing, established the liberalization of auctions, without any protection of the main house. It legislated the criminalization of protesting and preventing an auction, which means that anyone who protests, prevents or cancels an auction through their struggle is automatically charged in court with the risk of imprisonment. The General Secretary of the Builders' Federation, who will be taking the floor, next, will be tried in court on 19 December for this reason.
What we witnessed in our country a few days ago shows the brutality of capitalism. Police forces together with representatives of the banks and the vultures who want to take over the houses of the people, bursting into the house of a low-income pensioner at 5 a.m., breaking down the door and throwing her out of the house. This crime was prevented only by the mobilization of the working people, and the unions. This is the way to defend our lives, as the slogan that emerged from the struggles says, "Only the people can save the people".
Over the years, the governments, under the pressure of the class struggle, but also the sharpening of the housing issue, have planned and implemented their policy by attempting to make certain interventions. All the measures they took continued to serve the strategy of the capital, which dictated the safeguarding and increase of its profitability. They did not change the ultimate law of capitalism, profit.
In capitalism, the ones who pay for housing and housing needs are the workers, and it is the businessmen and the bourgeois state that collect from the workers to finance their profits.
In this framework, they make it an individual affair and responsibility of each person to acquire housing, and pay the loan installments to the banks, regardless of whether the state and the employers cut wages and pensions. It is and individual affair when someone eventually loses their house. Ultimately, the fault lies with the workers who failed to acquire and maintain their house, and not with those who smash their needs to make a profit.
In Greece, the main form of implementation of housing policy was expressed through the Workers’ Housing Organization (OKE), which was created in the 1950s. Until its abolition in 2012, it directly granted loans to beneficiaries under certain conditions either from its own funds or through loans with partial interest rate subsidies through banks.
The sources of funding of the Workers’ Housing Organization and its housing policy were derived from the workers' contributions, the employers' contributions (from the retention of the surplus value of the workers' labour) and the financial support of the bourgeois state, which very soon failed to fulfill any of its financial obligations or other obligations (maintenance of housing during the period of loan repayment, repair of defects, etc.).
The beginning of the capitalist crisis, which was followed by a huge increase in unemployment, and anti-labour measures of cutting wages, pensions, benefits, confiscation of the reserves and property of the Workers’ Housing Organization and the social security funds for the payment of the memorandum commitments, resulted in the escalation of the housing problem. Thousands of workers could not repay their loans and lost their homes, the interest of business groups in construction and project development was reduced due to lack of profitability and thousands of vacant houses that could not be sold.
Today, the increase in construction activity combined with the aggravation of the housing issue and all the issues related to it (energy issue, high rents), the low income of workers (minimum wage at 2007 levels), the high prices, forced both the government of the New Democracy and the other bourgeois parties, SYRIZA - PASOK, to announce proposals that would allegedly alleviate the problem and relieve the workers.
What we have to highlight in their proposals, which reveals the class character of their policy, is that they use the same bourgeois management tools to mislead and manipulate the workers in the framework of the interests and demands of the capital.
- They do not damage the interests of the banks and the big house dealers. On the contrary, they guarantee them new customers – workers to drain the sweat of their labour, taking advantage of their need for housing.
- The granting of loans applies to a very small number of beneficiaries. The government speaks of 10,000 beneficiaries, who, in reality, are not more than 2,000, including their family members, who are labeled 10,000 beneficiaries for the government's needs.
- The assets of the Workers’ Housing Organization, which was abolished in 2012 and was acquired with the contributions of the workers, are given for exploitation to real estate companies and entrepreneurs in exchange for the creation of some houses that will be given to beneficiaries with limited conditions and without any protection in case of inability of repayment.
It attempts to present the management tools it uses as new ones that will bring a different result for the workers by addressing the specific problem. But it continues to sharpen.
It is telling that for the acquisition of housing, practices followed in other capitalist states are presented as new solutions, where the borrower, after a period of staying in a house owned by the bank, will be able to negotiate whether or not to proceed with its purchase. All these stunts don't solve the problem, but rather mask the aim of the capital, which is to keep the workers paying for the house they live in for the rest of their lives without owning one with the burden falling on their children afterwards.
For the KKE, housing is a necessity and a right of all workers. Considering it as a field of profitable investment for the capital results in such problems being sharpened.
Therefore, there are no neutral solutions that satisfy everyone. And on the issue of housing and housing needs, two opposing worlds are clashing. What is needed is to evict the policy that regards the right to housing as a commodity and instead of being renters we become owners of the wealth we produce and of our own lives. Only the working class, socialism, can solve this problem through social ownership and scientific central planning that can ensure that all contemporary needs, housing and other social goods and rights are met. And this is the criterion of all planning.
Through Central Planning, the country's development potentials are put at the service of the people and their needs, all that human activity has created in science, technology and culture, ensuring a higher level of life, mental development and culture. Unemployment and job insecurity are eliminated, leisure time is increased, so that, among other things, the working people are able to participate actively and exercise labour control, and the character of the workers' power is safeguarded.
With the total abolition of capitalist relations, the relation between capital and wage labour, the means of production in industry, energy - water supply, telecommunications, construction, repairs, public transport, wholesale - retail and import - export trade, the concentrated tourism - food infrastructure are socialized, along with the land.
The Central Planning integrates labour power, means of production, raw and other industrial materials and resources, into the organization of production, social and administrative services. It develops spatial planning on the basis of the results of research concerning the definition of new needs, the elaboration of regulations and standards as well as on the basis of a nationwide plan for the management of waste, for the comprehensive management of the water resources for their protection and utilisation according to the criterion of people's prosperity and the construction of cities that will be people-friendly. It further develops construction for meeting the needs for housing, for public infrastructure works, for supporting agricultural production, industry, social services. It ensures people's housing based on modern standards combined with the reshaping of the cities, infrastructure for quick and safe transportation, protection against floods, fires, earthquakes. It ensures sufficient green spaces combined with zones for sports, culture and entertainment.
This is the only way to meet the need for safe, quality and high standard housing for all.
It calls for a confrontation with capital's strategy for the right to popular housing and the organization of the struggle against this policy, to strengthen the demands for immediate measures, some of which are also put forward by the trade unions, which could give a great relief to this issue to thousands of families, and revive the building activity by demanding that the big capital pay, such as:
- Comprehensive housing planning by re-establishing the Workers’ Housing Organization and strengthening the exclusively state-owned construction programme. Utilization of the reserves of the former Workers’ Housing Organization and its large property for the needs of the workers and youth. Banning auctions of people's houses and measures against high prices. Substantial wage and pension increases, substantial protection of the unemployed.
- The demands of the student movement for a 300-euro monthly subsidy for all the students living on rent. A cap on rent prices. Under the responsibility of the state apartments and hotels to be used for free accommodation. Immediate rent subsidy for teachers who are posted away from home. Creation of new dormitories under the responsibility of the state, without Public and Private Partnerships and rents. Repair and renovation of all old dormitories.
Valsamos Syrigos, General Secretary of the Federation of Greek Builders and Member of the CC of the KKE
In our country and probably in other countries too, the propaganda of the bourgeoisie said that, if the communists ruled, they would take the peoples’ houses. The time has come and eventually the banks and the funds will take the peoples’ houses. Now, in the neighbourhoods of Athens and all the cities of the country, everyone is saying the opposite: "the communists have come to save your houses".
During the period of the capitalist crisis, which started gradually for some sectors in 2008 until 2015, thousands of popular households were affected by unemployment, the reduction of wages and pensions, and the further privatisation of sectors of the economy. The result of all this was the outbreak of a large wave of red loans. In 2010, with the movement gaining strength against the measures of the memoranda, the then PASOK government passed a law, by which the borrowers were subjected to a legal battle and a long-term hostage situation, in which they had to remain in poverty, so that when the grace period would expire, they would go to court again, part of the debt would be cut and the rest would be adjusted in installments, if and when they was vindicated. This law delayed the escalation of the problem. But the problem was not actually solved.
The courtrooms became arenas with the people as the victims, the lawyers of the banks were attacking the borrowers and presenting them as perpetrators, as having deceived the bank for a loan they could not repay.
The fact that this whole dispute was conducted in the Small Claims Courts, there were decisions that sided with the borrowers and in some Small Claims Courts, lawyers did not dare to undermine and mock their victims.
Due to the crisis there was no demand for housing, so there was no pressure from banks and lenders to lift the legislation. After 2014, in the looming exit from the capitalist crisis, the pressure to change the law began and the housing market was revived. In 2015 the SYRIZA government amended the law, voted to sell "red" loans to funds (laws 4354/2015 and 4389/2016), in line with the relevant memorandum commitments. It voted for the out-of-court settlement leaving the majority of self-employed merchants and small businesses technically unprotected. It is typical, according to the platform's data, that in June 2018, only 52 businesses out of 32,086 had managed to complete the procedure and settle their debts!
- It introduced the concept of "minimum living expenses", namely on the verge of destitution, and " cooperative borrower", the clause which provides that in order to protect the main residence, the borrower must pay an amount such that creditors will not find themselves, without their consent, in a worse financial position than they would be in, in the event of enforcement.
- It voted for the new Code of Civil Procedure, which facilitates mass foreclosures and auctions of all kinds and introduced electronic auctions.
- In addition, it introduced the criminalization of mobilisations against auctions. In less than a month, the first criminal charges were brought against the president of the Labour Centre of Larissa and 6 other defendants. Although it was subsequently abolished, a new article 168 of the Criminal Code was introduced, with the offence of "disrupting the operation of the service", which could be used in similar cases.
The vast majority of the cases that were protected by the Katseli law started to lose the cases, resulting in payment orders and auctions being carried out by the funds even for those who were previously under the protection of the main house.
We should note here, as comrade Tasioulas mentioned earlier, that the Greek Workers' Club that gave loans to workers for housing, sent them to the banks as clients where they faced the compound interest, causing a large part of these loans to be labeled as red and be auctioned off. During the period of the pandemic and the emergency measures, electronic auctions were temporarily halted.
At the same time, the government of the New Democracy abolished any kind of protection that was supposed to be in effect. As of 2018, there is no protection of any kind for the main house. To compensate for this development, a new bankruptcy law was passed, which makes not only companies but also individuals go bankrupt. What benefit does anyone who goes bankrupt under this law have? They can stay in their home by paying rent for 12 years.
We are entering a new capitalist crisis and we will be having a new series of red loans, the problem is going to exacerbate. The New Democracy government is talking about protecting responsible borrowers, seeing the risk of several loans going red. It does not care about the debtors, of course, but about the banking groups that will continue to drain the people unhindered. They consider everyone else to be defaulters and insolvent, equating the people who are struggling to make ends meet and the businessmen who are stuffing them with loans that none of them ever paid.
The post-Covid era also brought a tourism boom, both in our country and other tourist destinations, with a simultaneous demand for Airbnb homes. Tenants were forced out of city centres, rents skyrocketed and vultures snatched any homes that went up for auction. None of the borrowers whose house is put up for auction can find a way to contact the funds to renegotiate their loan.
The labour-peoples’ movement, led by the communists and PAME, waged and is still waging the struggle for the protection of the people from the capital’s attack on the popular housing. From the very first moment a PAME committee was created against the auctions, hundreds of mobilizations were held all over the country in Small Claims Courts and notaries' offices, protests were held in banks and funds. This effort brought us close to human tragedies.
This committee consists of trade unionists, militant lawyers, and trade unionists from unions in the financial sector. The committee is in contact with trade unions and regional committees that have been formed and gives advice on how to address issues. It monitors the development of each case, tries to contact the funds that hold the loans, organizes mobilizations at notaries' offices to prevent auctions, organizes mobilizations at red loans management companies. It carries out propaganda in neighborhoods of people who have lost their homes, to raise awareness in the neighborhood and express solidarity, and prevent eviction of families. This effort, as cases are made public and victories are achieved, like the case in the neighborhood of Zografou, are multiplying the number of colleagues who are one step closer to losing their homes or colleagues who have already lost their homes and are in despair.
When someone reaches out to us and says "help me, I am losing my house, you are my only hope" it is the duty of the labour-people's movement to fight so that their hope is not dashed. So, the responsibility we have to our fellow people is to fight for a strong movement that will not only succeed in forcing the lifting of some auctions and evictions, but will force the people's right to become law. For the protection of the main house to become law, for interest to be written off, for loans to be cut, for installments to be agreed upon based on today’s financial standards of the borrowers and not on the wage they earned when they took out the loan.
Our Party is at the forefront of the struggle to put into practice the slogan "no house in the hands of the bankers", while at the same time it highlights in the bourgeois parliament the right of the people to have a modern home, submits law proposals for the all-round protection of popular housing, for putting an end to auctions and evictions. These initiatives highlight the mockery of the people by the parties of bourgeois management, however they call themselves, liberal or social-democratic.