On Saturday, September 13th, 2008 a national training seminar on the right to housing was held in Santiago, Chile. The seminar was hosted by the Observatorio de Vivienda y Ciudad (Observatory for Housing and the City) which is composed of various organizations that work with housing issues including: Fundación Proyecto Propio; Fundación Trabajo en la Calle; Habitat International Coalition (HIC); Instituto de la Vivienda de la Facultad de Arquitectura y Urbanismo de la Universidad de Chile (INVI); SUR Corporación de Estudios Sociales y Educación; and Vicarias de Pastoral Social y de los Trabajadores.
Leaders from community organizations throughout Santiago’s metropolitan region and from the cities of Temuco and Coquimbo constituted the majority of participants attending Saturday’s seminar. The morning panel discussions were also open to the general public.
The morning consisted of a series of speakers who presented different components of the right to housing including what it should constitute, its legal aspects in international and local contexts, how citizens can secure this right, and how to implement it in Chile. Additional topics discussed were the construction of social housing in Chile, the importance of the Social Production of Habitat, as well as experiences of local, regional, and international struggles to secure housing rights.
The afternoon was broken down into four participation-based workshops facilitated by representatives from different organizations. These workshops involved information sharing and discussions about housing and work alternatives in communities, understanding housing conflicts, creating participation and strengthening organizations within communities.
The objective of the training seminar was to generate a space for the leaders of community organizations from metropolitan areas to exchange experiences and formulate approaches to secure the human right to housing in Chile. The seminar was successful in this objective as participants were able to make their voices heard during question periods following the morning panel discussions, as well as during the afternoon workshops. The Observatory now plans to formulate a database containing the contact information of all participants, which will make continued networking between participants much more feasible in the future. The high levels of participation at the seminar and the interest demonstrated by community leaders is a positive indicator of the will that citizens have to join together and fight for the right to housing in Chile. Community leaders wish to continue gaining knowledge on this issue and hope to do so at a second training seminar on the right to housing.