Call for Papers: Privatisation in the housing sector

Dear friends,
for a while now we have tried to exchange information on privatisation in
the housing sector. We have raised a number of issues such as development of
national housing policies, tendencies, strategies and implications of
privatisation as well as the experiences gained from protest and resistance.
The goal was to first gather information about the situation in different
countries and publish this is in due form (e.g. as a booklet).
Furthermore we wanted to build ties between initiatives, housing
organisations and
academics to be able to act more effectively against neoliberal policy in
the housing sector.

Incentives from London
During the European Social Forum (ESF) 2004 in London we got some strong
incentives for both of our intentions. During the panel “Fight for Public
Housing” representatives of organisations and campaigns from five European
countries (United Kingdom, France, Italy, Russia, Germany) and the U.S.
talked about the situation in their countries. This showed clearly the big
differences concerning the aims of the respective organisations as well as
concerning the local conditions. Approaches vary from diplomatic initiatives
directed at EU and UN to a focus towards broad political alliances on a
local level or a focus on actions.

Despite these differences it was generally agreed that closer co-operation
is necessary and can be useful. Stress was laid several times on the fact
that not only policies on privatisation and deregulation are established on
the international level (in Europe by ‘Lissabon Strategy’and ‘Bolkestein
Directive’) but also the economic players of the housing industry (e.g. the
‘CarlyleGroup’) organise internationally. Tenant organisations and campaigns
against privatisation on the other hand often act isolated and stay
restricted to the local level. We understand the meeting in London as the
start to building an international network against privatisation of housing.

Concrete Agreements
Since most groups concentrate on their local work and are involved in
various
initiatives their resources for international co-operation against
privatisation are limited. It is therefore all the more important to develop
a process of working in co-operation. As a first step a catalogue with five
concrete tasks for the near future was decided.

1.Collective Article
A common and easy to read article giving an overview over the current
situation of privatisation will be compiled to classify the neoliberal
agenda of privatisation of housing on the national and global levels.

2.Collection of articles on forms of resistance
We want to exchange experiences with successful and less successful forms of
resistance and protest, to learn from them and to relate to them in our
respective struggles.

3.Assessment of EU policy on privatisation of housing
Here a collective analysis of those EU guidelines and decisions of the
commission is intended that influence privatisation and deregulation of
housing policies. This will provide the basis for a common list of demands
to the respective EU boards that we will develop later on.

4.Co-ordinated actions
Our co-operation should also lead to co-ordinated forms of actions. They
should be directed against the political decisions favouring privatisations
and against practises of profit making of specific companies. Specifically
the ‘International Tenants’ Day’ in October and an ‘International Action
Calendar’ were mentioned which can be used to exchange key aspects of
mobilising for the respective initiatives and campaigns.

5. Collective web platform
Jointly developed articles as well as reports about actions and calls will
be published on a website that is still to be developed, with the intention
to make international co-operation visible next to providing a tool for
internal information exchange. The website should have its own independent
character and not be attached to already existing alliances or coalitions to
allow for the openness needed to involve new groups.

Next steps
Since we can’t accomplish all tasks at once we decided to do one step at a
time.

1st Step “Wanted Poster”: National Housing policy
Until the end of December all participating groups should prepare a ‘Wanted
Poster’ – a short description about the housing policy of their countries.
Tobe able to understand the different approaches of the different countries
we need to explain to each other how the housing sector is composed. Which
stocks of social or public housing are there? How does rent regulation work?

What type of subsidies have been set up by national or local authorities
(subsidies for renters and/or subsidies for dwellings)? Who owns the
property and the buildings of public or social housing stock? Are and were
there access criteria for supply with public or social housing? This
description should have 15.000 characters maximum. (The corresponding part
of the ‘Call for Papers’ can be used as a guideline).

2nd “Dossier”: Strategies, methods and consequences of privatisation
Until the end of January 2005 all participating groups should have finished
a dossier on privatisation and deregulation policy for their countries.
Which stocks are being privatised? To what extent are privatisations taking
place? How are privatisations being justified, organised and carried out?
What are the consequences for the tenants? The ‘dossiers’ should have 30.000
characters maximum.

3rd Step “Puzzle”: Protest and resistance
Until the end of March 2005 all participating groups should have documented
examples of protest actions and successful resistance campaigns, including
an analysis of the experiences that were made. Input requirements or
questions are hard to give here since the situations in the respective
countries differ a lot. A ‘puzzle’ shouldn’t exceed 20.000 characters.

4th Step: “Collective Article”
Until the end of May 2005 a collective article of all participating groups
should have developed on the basis of the ‘short descriptions’, the
‘dossiers’ and the ‘puzzles’. It remains to be discussed and decided how the
editorial work will be organised and whether we will have another meeting in
the meantime.

Co-ordination
AG Social Housing of Berliner MieterGemeinschaft from Berlin will coordinate
the proposed steps. As our capacities are limited as well we depend on your
legwork and on compliance with the schedule.
General communication will take place via email list
[socialhousing@lists.nadir.org], direct questions should be sent to AG
Social Housing: SocialHousing@zeromail.org.

All the best
Andrej Holm | Renate Berg | Joachim Oellerich
AG Social Housing
Berliner MieterGemeinschaft e.V.
Möckernstraße 92
10963 Berlin

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