Squatters take on Sydney University

Issue 

Squatters take on Sydney University

By Carla Gorton

SYDNEY — Squatters reoccupied houses owned by Sydney University in Katherine Street, Forest Lodge on June 21. The action was part of a campaign by Direct Action Against Homelessness (DAAH) to draw attention to the contradiction between the large number of empty properties and the thousands of people who live without homes.

Residents of Katherine Street were evicted in 1990, when it was claimed by the university that the site would not be developed, but used for student housing. Three years later, the properties have been left to rot.

In Rose Street, Darlington, a seven-year battle to occupy university houses ended in their demolition. The university preferred to spend its already stretched funds on demolition rather than allowing people to live in the houses at no expense.

A spokesperson for DAAH told Green Left Weekly that the university has displayed a very callous attitude in its attempts to amass property in surrounding suburbs. She pointed out that often squatters are given a bad name as vandals when in fact it is property owners who make houses unlivable. In occupying the properties, squatters restore the homes to a livable condition.

Direct Action Against Homelessness demands of the university:

  • That it make public its inventory of empty houses;

  • that these houses be made available for occupancy;

  • that it immediately stop destruction of empty houses and withdraw eviction notices;

  • that there be no further takeover of surrounding land until the land the university

currently owns is developed;

  • that money spent on keeping houses empty be diverted back to education.

DAAH requests that people who support these demands phone the University of Sydney to register their complaints.