Rome women's shelter risks eviction

Casa Internazionale delle Donne has 30 days to pay €833K debt.

Rome's Casa Internazionale delle Donne has been given 30 days to pay the city a back-rent of €833,000 to the administration of mayor Virginia Raggi's anti-establishment Movimento 5 Stelle.

The city denies that it has issued an eviction notice however the letter it sent to Casa delle Donne on 8 November warns that if the centre fails to pay the debt within 30 days the city would begin a "coercive procedure" to recover the funds and repossess the property.

Casa delle Donne is supposed to pay the city a monthly rent of around €7,000 but is only able to pay €3,000, its director Francesca Romana Koch told Italian daily newspaper Corriere della Sera. However Koch points out that the services it offers are valued at €700,000 a year.

In addition to acting as a refuge for female victims of violence, the self-financed Casa delle Donne has provided social services, education and cultural activities for women for the last three decades. Koch describes it as "a reference point for migrants, young people, women, associations and people in fragile situations." 

Located on Via della Lungara in Trastevere, the centre was opened in 1987 after members of the Roman feminist movement occupied part of an abandoned 17th-century convent building once used as a women's jail. In 1992, following extensive negotiations, the Casa Internazionale delle Donne received official approval from the city.

The administration of Raggi's predecessor Ignazio Marino, of the centre-left Partito Democratico, had prepared a draft resolution to write off the centre's debts, in recognition of its free services, however Marino fell from power before any action could be taken.