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Bookshop het Fort van Sjakoo has received notice of a rent increase of more than 900%.

According to the Housing Corporation it is a "reasonable proposal"…

"The Housing Corporation Amsterdam wants the rent from their commercial spaces adjusted to the market price level". So began a letter from our landlord, the Woningbedrijf Amsterdam (Housing Corporation Amsterdam), wherein it stated that they want to increase the rent starting Sept. 1 from ƒ 580. to ƒ 5100. per month. The Housing Corporation finds this a reasonable proposal. We, the co-workers from the Fort van Sjakoo, well know that we can't come up with that much money for too long. If this rent increase goes into effect we're for sure threatened with losing the bookshop in the very near future. Naturally we don't agree with this proposal and we call on you to help support us in our struggle against this unsocial measure.

Since 1977 het Fort van Sjakoo has been at Jodenbreestraat 24. The building was squatted 2 years earlier as a protest against its planned demolition to make way for an office building. The squatters made the building liveable and on the ground floor a successful bookshop was started. Thus the squatters' resistance was successful and the building was saved. In 1989 the city bought the building for next to nothing, the residents and the bookshop became renters. The Housing Corporation was then still a part of the municipality, and they got possession of the building. Since then the company has become privatised.

For 24 years now het Fort van Sjakoo has been run by an enthusiastic changing group of volunteers. For reasons of principal it has never wanted to be dependent on government subsidies, and until now has met all of its costs. The goal of the bookshop has never been to make a profit, but to supply people with all sorts of information that they can't easily find elsewhere. The collection consists of a wide range of left-wing political, social criticism, avant-garde, artistic, rebellious, odd and environmentally friendly books and magazines, and sometimes interesting publications that people search in vain for in regular bookshops. The bookshop is a distribution point for all sorts of self-made zines, music from small labels, t-shirts, patches, etc. People come here from all over the world and often find things they've uselessly searched for in their own country.

Since the beginning of 2000 you can find in the basement of het Fort van Sjakoo the Internet workshop ASCII, and just like the bookshop a collective of volunteers runs it. You can, for example, surf the net on recycled computers for free. ASCII experiments with non-commercially developed software, and gives technical support to idealistic organizations that don't feel at home in the virtual world. They also have set up an Internet radio station; they show videos and have experimental jazz concerts.

Another volunteer run initiative, which is situated in het Fort van Sjakoo, is the foundation Window To Europe, created in 1989 with the goal of promoting the cultural consciousness and mutual understanding between people who were for a long time separated by the iron curtain. They have through the years concentrated on the traditional musical cultures from the different ethnic groups who live in the former Soviet Union. Lately they've added a form of electronic music. Also in our bookshop is the office from the foundation European Juggling Association, who organizes, among other things, a yearly festival which attracts more than 3000 jugglers.

None of these organizations is commercial and can't possibly meet the rent demanded by the profit hungry Housing Corporation Amsterdam, who is legally within their rights. Though, they aren't allowed to raise the rents of their housing units to the market level, they can for business space. And the commercial space in the Jodenbreestraat has recently increased to absurd levels, like elsewhere in this city.

For decades the street was full of unpopular ugly buildings, which were falling apart, and construction sites. The last few years the city has been busy with fixing up the street. First they took away the terrible buildings. Then came new buildings and the pavement was redone with fancy stones. The junkies were kicked out of the area, and since recently there is an alcohol ban. The policy of the city hall was successful: tourist attractions like the Holland Experience, big chain stores like Blokker and Albert Hein wanted to be on the now upscale street. And the price per square meter increased in record time to 10 times higher.

The Housing Corporation Amsterdam isn't legally bound to differentiate between rent increases for different types of businesses and organizations. Fort van Sjakoo's situation isn't different from other small, idealistic organizations. Everywhere in Amsterdam non-commercial and social organizations are under pressure because they are being faced with enormously inflated rent increases. This tendency can only be changed when social and non-commercial initiatives have a non-profit rent category.

We want the Housing Corporation Amsterdam to withdraw their rent increase. Support from the people who believe in what we do is warmly welcome!! We would really appreciate it if our sympathizers would begin their own actions in support of us.
If you want to know what's going on put yourself on our mailing list: https://squat.net/mailman/listinfo/sjakoo-announce

Please send your opinion about the rent increase to the directors of the Woningbedrijf Amsterdam (Housing Corporation) and send us also a copy.

Woningbedrijf Amsterdam
Muntendamstraat 1
1091DR AmsterdamPostbus 94278
1090GG Amsterdam

Fax 020-6630829
e-mail: binnenstad@woningbedrijf-amsterdam.nl

International Bookshop Het Fort van Sjakoo
Jodenbreestraat 24
1011NK Amsterdam
Telefoon: 020-6258979
Fax: 020-6203570
e-mail: sjakoo@xs4all.nl

Jodenbreestraat 24 sous
1011NK Amsterdam
e-mail: ascii@squat.net