Each of the 8 blocks of apartments that makes up Prosfygika has its own unique character. These small idiosyncrasies often come from long term residents, some of whom who have been squatting here for a decade or longer, who lend their own character to the specific part of the neighbourhood that they inhabit.
The end of block 3 is no exception, and its specific reputation is as a troubled place to live. For years, the last six apartments in this block have been home to squatters who have chronic health problems, and recovering drug addicts. The worst three apartments in the block were abandoned at various points in the late ‘00’s, and have since been used as trash dumps by the other squatters once their former inhabitants left or died. As of October 2016, three apartments were not only unusable, they were actively dangerous to enter, with trash piled up to a meter and a half deep, human faeces smeared on the walls, and decade old hypodermic needles mixed into the chaos. Today, one apartment is fully functional, and home to two guests who are doing solidarity work in Prosfygika, and the other two are on their way to being clean and safe community apartments.
We started cleaning these apartments last October, first removing dumpsters full of trash – old Chinese take-out containers, bottles full of cigarette ends, and moldy magazines, none more recent than 2009, and scraping layers on layers of paint off the walls. The rest of the work followed slowly, as guests began to move into the apartment, putting in water and electrical connections, and slowly furnishing and repainting. Rather than waiting for the house to be completely renovated to move in, fixing the apartments became a part of living there, making block 3 simultaneously a home and place of work.
This model for opening new apartments is in step with the general way of life in Prosfygika, where building a life and home are acts in harmony with building the struggle and expanding our community. Long before there was an organized political struggle here, this place was home to people who were the most attacked and marginalized by life in modern, capitalist Athens. These people left their impact on the physical space around them. Thus, repairing this space, reclaiming it from both inevitable decay, and the damage inflicted by those who have been pushed to the limit by the outside world, is in its own way a political act. We intend to open these apartments up as homes and organizing spaces for others who have been abused by the socio-political system (refugees, survivors of domestic abuse, former prisoners, the homeless and recovering addicts), and the people who come to be in solidarity with them.
And so, block 3 can keep its character, only now, it will be a “last stop” for the marginalized, who have nowhere else to go, as this building was before Prosfygika began to organize politically, but as a starting place for people who want to fight back against the political circumstances that seek to disempower them. Right now, in addition to solidarity guests, the building is also home to two long term squatters, and a refugee family. There is still quite a bit of work today to make the last two apartments inhabitable, but we are looking forward to finishing them, and welcoming new members into the Block 3 community.