Local Actions Planned on Six Continents in October 2004


Today, HIC released a list of 41 actions or events organized by national and local housing rights groups in 28 countries on six continents. The Coalition released the list to coincide with World Habitat Day, designated by the United Nations General Assembly for the first Monday of October each year.

“Far from meeting the UN’s Millenium Development Goal of reducing slum dwellings by 100 million by 2020, the number of slum dwellers is expected to double to more than two billion families by 2030, according to the UN’s own figures. War, forced evictions and destruction of houses have accelerated, not declined,” stated by Enrique Ortiz, HIC President at the World Urban Forum, Barcelona 2004. “The US government in particular has adopted policies which terrorize the poor in the USA through needless subsidy cuts and threatened forced evictions, and in its policies abroad which have caused massive destruction of civilian houses and violations of housing rights in Iraq and Palestine. We call on the US and other governments to affirm the universal right of all people to live in security and peace, and to honor their obligations to progressively realize the Right to Housing.” Ortiz also released a statement in connection with the HIC effort (attached).

Throughout October, numerous local, national and regional organizations, social movements, NGO’s and academic groups in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, Australia and North America will carry out public actions and events within the framework of the HIC campaign. Highlights include:

· In Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, a variety of events will demand action on to stop forced evictions, recognize informal settlements, support construction of housing by the poor, and realize the Right to Housing and the Right to the City. In Paraíso, Dominican Republic, Espacio de Coordinación Urbano Popular will organize a mass meeting on October 4 against the displacement of the poor and to support the legalization of popular housing communities. (Contact: Pedro Franco) They will demand compensation and relocation assistance to displaces, promulgation of a national law on title regularization, and construction of affordable housing for the poor. In Mexico City, the Movimiento Urbano Popular (MUP) are organizing a series of events, including a press conference on October 4 in front of the Senate, a forum with Senators regarding a new proposed National Housing Law, and a debate with representatives of public agencies involved with housing finance. (Contact: Enrique Ortiz or Lorena Zárate, HIC-AL). In Santiago, Chile, residents’ organizations along with other community organizations will follow denouncing the conditions of violence, overcrowding and conflictive livelihood in the public housing stock in Chile, against the deregulated urban sprawl in Santiago and the privatization of the seashore in Valparaíso. (Contact: Ana Sugranyes). In Lima, Peru, massive assemblies to discuss the new Law of Urban Renewal and water and sanitation in the District of Puente Piedra (Contact: Silvia de los Ríos). Other events are planned by HIC members in La Paz, Bolivia, Caracas, Venezuela, and Buenos Aires and Córdoba in Argentina.

· In Dhaka, Bangladesh, Shelter for the Poor will form a Human Chain stretching two kilometers from the National Museum to the National Press Club to protest slum eviction activities and to demand proper rehabilitation of housing for the urban poor on October 4. With festoons, placards and banners, protestors will draw mass attention and support against slum eviction activities without rehabilitation and bring pressure on policy-makers to address the issue (Contact: Shelter for the Poor) In Delhi, India, 600 housing rights activists will meet from October 1 through 4 to share experiences and strategies under the auspices of National Forum for Housing Rights, of which HIC-HLRN is a part.

  • In the USA, two of HIC’s member organizations, the National Alliance of HUD Tenants and the National Coalition for the Homeless, have organized a series of protests this fall against the Bush Administration’s plans to cut 600,000 families from the federal Section 8 program by 2009 and on-going assault on the Section 8 program. Despite Congressional support for the program, the Administration has needlessly confronted 60,000 families with forced evictions this year and recently launched unannounced raids to arrest tenants for alleged underpayment of rent. Protests were held in Washington, DC (at the US government housing agency’s headquarters), Los Angeles, and Dallas during September, and more actions are planned in Boston, Seattle, and Minneapolis and Portland, Maine throughout October. The US has lost more than 300,000 units of government-subsidized housing since 1996. (Contact: Michael Kane)

  • In Beirut, Lebanon, MIRSAD is launching a “Campaign to Return to the Center of Beirut” on October 4 with a press conference and demonstration in the center of the city. The Campaign will be a three month effort protesting the forced eviction of inhabitants from the center of Beirut by the real estate company Solidere with the complicity of the Lebanese state. The Campaign will mobilize evictees to take action to regain their homes (Contact: MIRSAD).

  • In Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, the Womens’ Advancement Trust will publicize construction of a water well with two housing cooperatives at the Bandari housing coop in order to dramatize the need for the poor to build their own housing in the absence of government programs. (contact: Tabitha Siwale). In Cairo, Egypt, HIC-HLRN and ECHR organize a round table on housing rights conditions in the region (Contact: Joseph Schechla).

· In Europe, activists are protesting the deregulation, privatization and “sell-out” of social housing and the destruction of the social welfare state as the European Union and former socialist states accelerate their drive for neoliberal “market” policies and institutions. In London, Defend Council Housing (DCH), which is leading the fight to preserve state-owned housing, is organizing a demonstration on October 4 outside the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister in charge of Council Housing to protest the government’s privatization policies. (Contact: Cathy Pound). In Brussels, Le Front Commun with RBDH is organizing a march on October 17 to center of the city on the theme of housing for all and especially for the homeless. Le Front Commun will publicize the names of those who have died in the streets or have been squatting for many years. (Contact: Jean Peeters). The International Union of Tenants (IUT) is also sponsoring several events, including a children’s rally for housing rights in Eskilstuna, Sweden, and a first anniversary celebration of the IUT’s Zagreb Declaration against privatization in Eastern Europe to be held in Ljubjana, Slovenia on October 4, hosted by the IUT’s Eastern European focal point. (Contact: Magnus Hammar, website: www.iut.nu) The Association of Tenants from Serbia and Montenegro will hold a press conference in support of the housing rights of the elderly in Belgrade on October 4. (Contact: Marina Ragush) DCH and HIC are also sponsoring a panel on October 16 at the European Social Forum in London comparing tenant struggles against privatization by national tenant unions in England, Germany, Russia, Italy, France and the USA. Other events are planned in Oslo, Norway, the Hague, Netherlands, and Padua, Italy. In Berlin, Germany, more than 45.000 people participated in a protest march against the fundamental “reform” of national labour insurance legislation (“HARTZ IV”), HIC members at the tenants associations in the Ruhr District partly supported the local protests against mass sell out of housing and protest against social ‘deform’ (Contact: Knut Unger).

· In Australia, IUT member groups have organized Tenancy Week in different cities. In Sidney, the National Association of Tenant Organizations (NATO) is releasing a report entitled “Leaking Roofs” on October 4, comparing tenant legislation across the country and highlighting national issues. In Canberra, NATO has organized Tenancy Week all this week, including a tenant luncheon with the Housing Minister and community organizations. NATO has also run training workshops and information stalls at major shopping centers in the area. (Contact: Deb Pippen).

  • In the Phillipines, the Urban Poor Associates will sponsor five Saturday radio programs starting October 2, featuring participatory on-air discussions of the situation of the urban poor, housing rights and forced evictions, the Millenium Development Goals and its targets on housing, water and sanitation, women’s and children’s housing rights, and extreme poverty. National and local government agencies will participate and discuss their plans. More than 100 cities and towns participated in a similar forum last year. (Contact: Bimbo Fernandez).
HIC is a world network of social movements, research centers and non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) engaged with housing and land rights. HIC has a consultative status at ECOSOC and participated actively in the follow-up of United Nations’ Conferences on Human Settlements, known as Habitat I (1976) and II (1996). The Coalition today comprises more than 400 national, local and regional organizations in most of the countries of the globe.