The housing emergency in Italy has become a structural issue that perfectly reflects a 30-year crisis within government decisions on the right to housing. The subaltern classes are the first to pay the consequences, given that they are most exposed to the phenomena that cause poverty and social marginalization, especially during the pandemic and ongoing economic crisis. According to recent census data, 2,000 people are homeless in the city of Naples alone. Nonetheless, the city’s public dormitory has only 400 beds available. The issue of temporary and more stable housing availability (through housing contracts) creates an ulterior problem with the system because residency certificates are essential to accessing the social infrastructure (opening a bank account, receiving government subsidies, etc.). Citizens of foreign origin or asylum seekers, especially those who have exited government hospitality mechanisms, are most exposed. Other than the difficulty of finding landlords who will offer them legally leased housing (with a housing contract), they are often subject to racism from landlords who refuse to rent their properties to non-European citizens. Their official residence is connected to the release and renewal of the “permesso di soggiorno” residency permit. This growing need has created a stratified black market for the sale of residency certificates, often managed by criminal organizations, Neapolitan and foreign intermediaries, and corrupt municipal employees.
To combat this phenomenon of blackmail and abuse, we have created a designated help desk for the right to residence within the Ex’OPG Je So’ Pazzo. Through our ongoing strategic struggle, as a political instrument, we created a channel to negotiate with the municipality, forcing them to consider our association as an accredited institution capable of requesting virtual residence for subjects that are supported by our legal team. This service (providing accredited virtual residence) is primarily requested by Italians without stable housing and asylum seekers that live outside of hospitality centers, who have enormous economic difficulties and are at risk of losing their residency permit. Part of our work involves orientation towards searching for stable housing and providing information on residents’ rights. In 2018 we occupied the abandoned church Sant Antonio a Tarsia, where we are carrying out a small project of self-guided hospitality for people with housing emergencies. The process is only suited for 7-8 people each year, who are either documented or undocumented, and each person co-creates a social rehabilitation project tailored to their needs. The dimension of this emergency has given us a valuable data point: organizing can help intervene within the emergency and can help a small number of people, but only a new political approach on public housing and on the -right to housing as a human right -at a national and local level- can intervene within a phenomenon of this size.