Casilino 900 – Metropoliz

The infamous Roma camp Casilino 900, was cleared and bulldozed in 2010 according to the “2009 Rome’s Nomads Plan”. Migrants from southern Italy had first settled there after World War II. Since the 1960’s it became a Roma encampment occupied by Roma Xoraxanè from former Yugoslavia. It had around 700 occupants.

Casilino 700 was only a few hundred meters away from Casilino 900. In 1996 it had approx. 1200 occupants and was considered the biggest Roma camp in Europe. Roma from Montenegro, mainly from Titograd and Niksic, had founded it in 1991 as an offshoot of Casilina 900. Later on families of Bosnian refugees also settled there. The camp was destroyed in 2000.

Metropoliz –Each eviction has triggered a cyclic migration inside the city that pushed the Roma around from one marginalized area to the next. A small NGO (POPICA Onlus) that was in contact with the Movimento di Lotta per la Casa, proposed to the evicted Roma to join Movimento and a series of meetings with the members of the occupation committee began. Many were afraid of a whole community of 90 people entering the occupation, but in the end a newly formed group, the Blocchi Precari Metropolitani, accepted and welcomed them in a huge former factory along via Prenestina, the so called “Metropoliz”. It was already inhabited by 110 Italians, Moroccans, Peruvians and African families.

For the first time a group of Roma entered into an historical local movement such as that of Movimento di Lotta per la Casa joining other groups and breaking the vicious ethnic trap which led to the creation of the encampments. Regardless of ethnic origins all occupants who live at Metropoliz are considered as people who share common rights and common needs, in a self determination path. This has helped to break forms of ethnic segregation and jealousies.

In April 2011 Rome’s Mayor Gianni Alemanno included the “Metropoliz” inhabitants in a Municipality Council Deliberation for the population with housing needs. This does not mean that the factory where the “Metropoliz” people are living will be entrusted to them, but that 25% of the social and municipal houses that will be made available in the course of time, will be reserved to the “Metropoliz” dwellers. It is the first time in the history of Rome that an entire foreign Roma community gains access to social housing.