Going out of the market to conquer good housing for all and everyone, adequate, secure and sustainable for pockets and nature

Sent to Other News by Cesare Ottolini*

The housing and global crisis, exposed by the COVID 19 pandemic and exacerbated by ongoing wars, has made clear the failure of neoliberal policies of privatization and especially, the financialization of the housing sector, implemented by the ruling social classes, most governments, financial institutions,  and supranational and international bodies.

A core element of neo-liberalism has been the erosion of public and housing provision by central and local governments and, as a result, affordable public housing is increasingly unavailable.

We must remove the housing sector from the commercial market in order to achieve adequate, secure, and sustainable housing for all. If we are to move forward, it is essential that we strengthen our networks to promote alternative strategies, together with social organizations, international networks, universities, progressive local authorities and governments.

The Future is Public: Global Manifesto for Public Services provides a focus for convergence during the gathering of progressive forces at international Conference  Our Future is Public. From global inequalities to social, economic and climate justice (Santiago de Chile, 29/11- 02/12/2022).

Parasitic rent extraction is the true face of “Everyone an Owner” to undermine public housing service

“Everyone an Owner” is the slogan used to unify a popular social base, a tool to attack public intervention in housing that was the absolute priority in many countries, destroying the legacy of socialist achievements and concrete responses to the housing crisis after World War II.

The privatizations of the public housing service, its marginalization to charitableism and its mercantile transformation, the obstacles to its development in colonized and impoverished countries, the vetoes on the regulation and calming of real estate prices, exalt housing as a special commodity through which to extract the parasitic rent necessary for unlimited capitalist reproduction. This has contributed greatly to the failure evidenced by the injustice of huge concentrations of financial wealth based on often vacant real estate, the unrestrained push for construction that destroys the environment and contributes to the climate crisis, the extension of impoverishment and housing insecurity of the lower and middle classes in colonized and impoverished countries and within the imperialist countries themselves.

However no international treaty protects this unlimited right.

Housing as a right can only exist if there is a public service

The essence of housing justice is grounded on its value in use, thus on an inalienable right that is also protected by international human rights law ratified by almost all countries.

However, this foundational conception is challenged by the contradictory approaches of different sectors of the UN system. The High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Rapporteur on the Right to Housing are engaged in advocating for the right to housing, both on specific cases and with analysis and policy proposals. In contrast, UN-Habitat, particularly with the New Urban Agenda produced by Habitat III in 2016, has gradually moved away from the human rights approach, grounding its intervention on the public-private-partnership functional to the unlimited development of the urban sector.

Therefore, beginning at the World Assembly of Inhabitants, we are committed to the implementation of the Inhabitants’ Solidarity Agenda.

Call for convergence of mobilizations, for resistance and alternative policies for the right to housing and to the city

Therefore, we launch a Call for Convergence of popular organizations and international networks of inhabitants, trade unions and tenant unions, social centers, cooperatives universities, local authorities and progressive governments committed on all continents to housing as a right, an inalienable and non-foreclosable common good on which to ground alternative policies to the failure of neoliberalism.

Mobilizations against unaffordable housing costs, including water and energy, against evictions, particularly through the Zero Evictions campaigns, against privatization and for re-municipalization, and against real estate speculation, highlight the resistance needed to make room for alternative housing policies to neoliberalism.

The multiplicity of alternative policies, articulated at the local level, shows the effectiveness of public intervention in which institutions perform the function of promoting public and social service, either directly, or with partnership-public-popular (non-private), or with price regulation and calming.

Our future is public : the common transformation agenda starting now

The strategic goal is to get the housing sector out of the market to achieve good, adequate, secure and sustainable housing for all, in urban settlements in harmony with the countryside and nature, not exploiters.

Moreover mobilization against wars and for peace is essential.

This goal converges with the goals of mobilizations to defend and develop the public service of sectors that promote social rights that are part of the right to the city (water, energy, health, mobility, among others), of a transformative agenda that responds to four intersectoral challenges: the climate emergency, gender equality and assistance, economic justice, and democratic ownership of public services.

Therefore, we are engaged together with other social organizations, unions, and networks in the preparation, and participation in theInternational Conference Our Future is Public to build the basis for a common narrative and to mobilize for a continuation of the transformational struggle that centers the redistribution of wealth in favor of public services.

Objectives

Our objectives are based on the concept note Going out of the market to conquer good housing for all and everyone, adequate, secure and sustainable for pockets and nature:

●      To involve the inhabitants’ leaders in the articulation of the different aspects of the activities: thematic and inter-sectoral sessions, meetings and exchanges between the different inhabitants’ organizations and with the organizations and networks of the other sectors to give continuity to the joint mobilization for the defense and development of the public housing sector and the other sectors linked to the right to the city.

●      Encourage exchange, reflection and international solidarity with the grassroots organizations that have supported the introduction of the right to housing in Chile’s new Constitution. 

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Housing Working Group (more volunteers welcome!)

Europe

–  Cesare Ottolini glob.coord.iai@habitants.org

–  Olga Nassis olganassis@gmail.com

Africa

–  Mike Davies iai.southernafrica@habitants.org

–  Wilfred Olal  happy.olal@gmail.com

–  Soha Ben Slama soha.aih.tunisie@habitants.org

Latin America and Caribbeans

–  Ernesto Jimenez Ollin upvg40@yahoo.com

–  Cristina Reynals cristina.reynals@habitants.org

–  Elizabeth Santos elisant32@gmail.com

–  Bartiria Lima da Costa bartiriaconam@gmail.com

North America

–  Robert Robinson rob.robinson423@gmail.com

Asia

–  Varghese Theckanath vtheckanathsg@gmail.com

–  Shweta Tamble shweta.tambe@gmail.com

–  Anju Manikoth anjumanikoth09@gmail.com

Objectives

• To draft a concept note/call to mobilize the participation of organizations and networks committed to the right to housing

(EN) Going out of the market to conquer good housing for all and everyone, adequate, secure and sustainable for pockets and nature

(ES) Salir del mercado para conquistar viviendas bonitas para todos y todas, adecuadas, seguras y sostenibles para los bolsillos y la naturaleza

(PT) Sair do mercado para ganhar moradias lindas para todas e todos, adequadas, seguras e sustentáveis para as carteiras e para a natureza

(FR) Sortir du marché pour conquérir de beaux logements pour toutes et tous, adéquats, sûrs et durables pour les poches et la nature

(IT) Uscire dal mercato per conquistare abitazioni belle per tutte e tutti, adeguate, sicure e sostenibili per le tasche e la natura

• To define “housing” initiatives within the framework of sectoral conferences.

• To involve local Chilean organizations, in participation in the Conference and side activities (visits, other)

• To disseminate the information and invitation and coordinate mobilization at national, continental, global levels

Agenda Housing Working Group 2022 (in progress)

August – December

The mobilization and participation in the Conference:

• Is part of the Inhabitants Solidarity Agenda

• Implements the decisions of the 7th Session of the World Assembly of Inhabitants (WSF Mexico, 05/05/2022)

• Offers tools and networking to local, national, continental, and global mobilizations with other social sectors to impact housing and land policies, particularly with the World Zero Evictions Days in October

• Prepares the possibility of implementing mobilizations and struggles at different levels to defend and develop public service for housing and other services related to the right to the city

September-October 2022

Continental preparatory meetings:

• To debate and define specific content, platforms, possible alliances

• To define participation and participating delegations

November 2022

Conference participation definition

November 29 – December 02, 2022

Participation (online and attendance) in the Conference (proposal in progress)

• 8th Session World Inhabitants Assembly

• Roundtables

• Visits and interchanges in working-class neighborhoods

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*Coordinator at International Alliance of Inhabitants