Setting the Working Group on Globalization and Privatization of Habitat


Dear friends,

HIC Board meeting, 10-11 September 2005 in Cairo, decided to set up a “Working Group on Globalization and Privatization of Habitat” including land, housing, utilities and the impact of free trade agreements in habitat. This working group aims:

  • to exchange experiences of struggles and means of organization both in the North and the South,
  • to seek both members and information on the issues affecting each region in order to get more people, organizations involved,
  • map the information of the organizations working in the countries where HIC has presence and define a working agenda,
  • identify specific transnational companies and issues in different countries.

It is urgent to start the implementation of these decisions.


Independently from but connected with this discussion the Ruhr Tenants Forum in cooperation with Habitat Net, Germany, INURA Ruhr, the local branch of Trade Union and other partners will launch a meeting on “Global investments and mass privatisation of housing” at 20-22 November 2005 in Bochum. There will be participants from different regions in Germany, England, Austria, Russia and the US.

This workshop is a step to set up HIC Working Group on globalisation and privatization of Habitat by starting serious research, exchange and network building focussing on some of the most significant developments in international real estate markets within the last years: The massive invasion of local/national housing, services and land markets through private investments, so-called “private equity funds”, which aim to maximize profits by commercialising of former social housing stocks and other real estate which had been under some type of social, regional, collective or informal control before.

After the meeting in November the Germans plan to continue work on this particular topic (or the complex of issues related to the role of international financial funds in habitat) by:

  • launching a seminar at the next European Social Forum, Athens, April 2006. This seminar will aim to enlarge the network of action-research, maybe with particular focus on the Levante and South-Eastern-Europe. One of the scopes can be the growing role of international financial capital in urban developments around the eastern Mediterranean Sea, with particular attention to changes within the capitalist recycling of former irregular settlements.
  • cooperation with the International Network of Urban Research and Action (INURA) at the next INURA annual conference, Ruhr District, Germany, June/July 2006. At the INURA conference critical urban researchers, mainly from Europe and Northern America, will meet to exchange research and action. The provisional title of the conference is “Towards a shareholder city” and one of the main thematic tracks will be the fundisation of housing. The conference consists of a public conference, excursions and an internal retreat. Within this 6 days event we will have the chance to deepen our analysis and exchange. It is also possible to launch parallel HIC meetings.

It now is urgent that the HIC Working Group will soon be established and starts serious cooperation. That would give us the chance to link the steps in Germany with a global scope, which seems to be important because the new financial strategies affect all the regions. The funds operate globally while most of the inhabitants organizations still act locally.


In preparation of the workshop in Bochum Nov. 2005 and it’s follow up we call for papers, reports, information which should deal with the following questions:

– Brief overview on the state of privatisation, mass sales etc. of rental housing and related real estates in your country.

– Which role do private equity funds or other types of financial speculators play in the housing and land markets? Which funds/firms are active? Which are the most recent developments regarding these real estate speculations ? Role of Real Estate Investment Trust (REITs).

– Consequences of this type of direct globalization on social housing, security of tenure, urban development etc.

– How do the public, the politicians, the affected people react?

– What is your political-economical analysis of these processes?

– What are your ideas regarding transnational counter-strategies, action and campaigns which effectively could resist or overcome the dangers?

Please take into account that your contributions must be understandable for foreigners who are not familiar with the details of the specific political, economical, social and legal system of housing and habitat in your country.

We will collect your contributions, try to use and evaluate them within our work, and publish results at a special Working Group page on the HIC website

Please send your contributions with copy to the 3 emails (addresses here below).


If a couple of persons like to intensify the global debate we can set up a specific list serve. Please simply email to the 3 addresses.

Many regards

Ana Sugranyes, HIC General Secretary,

Michael Kane, NAHT, USA, Coordinator Working Group

Knut Unger, Ruhr Tenants Forum, Habitat Net, Germany