23. NOV. 2020 KL. 11:18

Det skrev Bo-Vita til FN's særlige rapportører

BL Mjolnerparken 111018 012

Foto: Carsten Andersen

In relation to the UN press release: “UN human rights experts urge Denmark to halt contentious sale of “ghetto” buildings” published on the UN homepage on October 23rd, we at Bo-Vita, the public housing association of Mjølnerparken, wish to draw attention to a number of significant misunderstandings.

In the press release, the UN’s special rapporteurs on human rights state among other things, that there is cause for concern whether residents are ”at a high risk of forced eviction in violation of their right to adequate housing.” A misunderstanding, we at Bo-Vita find necessary to clarify.

Let us begin with the first claim about forced eviction: It is the clear expectation that we do not need to move any residents of Mjølnerparken against their will. On the contrary, we are helping a large group of residents, who themselves have expressed a wish to move away from Mjølnerparken, so-called voluntary relocation.

We have just reached family number 50, who has voluntarily wished to move away from Mjølnerparken. There can be many reasons for a family wishing to move. Some families begin to have teenagers at home, and they may be concerned that their children can be dragged into gang- and street criminality in Mjølnerparken – an area that is particularly known for a high crime rate and gang formation.

Others want to move to another district to try something new, just as well as some have wished to move to other parts of the country. What all the families have in common, is that they have wished to move away from Mjølnerparken, and Bo-Vita has helped them do so.

In addition to this, even more families are already on the list of voluntary relocation. If you accumulate this number with the already relocated families, the natural numbers of people moving out, as well as the 150 apartments rented out on temporary contracts while waiting for the renovation, this number corresponds well with the number of families that needs to move out of Mjølnerparken in order to solve the puzzle. For this reason, I am sure we will reach our goal without having any residents moving out not wanting to.

Likewise, we wish to shed light on the other claim about Bo-Vita acting in violation of residents’ “right to an adequate housing”.

As a result of the overall plan for Mjølnerparken, all apartments will be renovated – a renovation, that a vast majority of the residents at Mjølnerparken have voted for in 2015 knowing that this would require a temporary relocation. When an apartment is being renovated, it is often a natural consequence that one cannot live in the apartment while the renovation goes on – particularly when restoring bathrooms and kitchens which is the case in Mjølnerparken. Therefore, residents must be relocated. While some are relocated temporarily, others will be relocated permanently. This is either due to the apartment being sold or demolished. As I have clarified above, we expect all of the permanent relocations to be voluntary, and therefore Bo-Vita will not be “evicting” anyone.

At Bo-Vita we have made great efforts to help the residents, who are moving away from Mjølnerparken, to get the best possible start at their new place. The housing association provides relocation assistance for the families wanting to move, and we have guaranteed every one of those wishing to move voluntarily, to have access to an apartment in one of Bo-Vita’s departments in Copenhagen. Thus, residents not only receive new housing, they also receive financial and practical help getting settled in their new homes.

Finally, the UN criticizes the so-called ghetto package for being discriminatory. At Bo-Vita we always comply with existing law in Denmark, and we have also noted that a very large political majority are behind the ghetto package. As long as the law against parallel societies state that we are obliged to reduce the share of social family housing, we will work to comply with the law through our development plan, which has been approved by both the Municipality of Copenhagen and the Ministry of Housing.

Besides, as the chairman of Bo-Vita, I wish to emphasize that no form of discrimination at Mjølnerparken has taken place. Mjølnerparken is home to residents of more than 80 different nationalities and ethnicity. Residents whom we treat equally in all circumstances, also concerning both permanent and temporary rehousing. There is no evidence for saying that residents are treated differently depending on their ethnic origin.

At Bo-Vita we are particularly concerned and focused on housing. Our apartments are a safe haven for thousands of families’ lives. Therefore, I also believe that when an important organization like the UN criticizes Bo-Vita in such harsh phrases, the UN owes us at least to have their facts in place and to avoid formulating such strong statements based on significant misunderstandings.

Unfortunately, I can ascertain, that the UN has not reached out to Bo-Vita to get answers to their questions before the criticism was published. At Bo-Vita we always wish to enter into a constructive dialogue about the future of Mjølnerparken, and we encourage that the UN reach out with any questions in order to avoid such significant misunderstandings going forward.

If you have any further questions about the above, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Jan Hyttel

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