“I am aware that there are many who wince at the distinction between property and persons – who hold both sacrosanct. My views are not so rigid. A life is sacred. Property is intended to serve life, and no matter how much we surround it with rights and respect, it has no personal being. It is part of the earth man walks on; it is not man.” – Martin Luther King Jr. in 1967
It is a remarkable time to begin World Habitat Days 2011 with communities around the globe increasingly standing up & fighting to ensure this value that MLK so clearly expressed over 40 years ago is a reality for all — that people are our moral priority before property.
With a global economic crash that originated in a feverish housing market and a raging affordable housing and foreclosure crisis, it is hard for anyone to imagine that the unregulated & unlimited market can serve to meet the basic housing needs of all or even most of us. Such neoliberalist assumptions are losing their bite, particularly with homeowners, renters, and squatters alike facing mass housing insecurity – the threat of displacement by eviction and foreclosure – under various market-based regimes worldwide.
With powerful scenes like that on Dale Farms in the UK this week —
or in Bedstuy, Brooklyn, NY this past month —
with communities drawing the moral line with their bodies in massive human blockades – it seems a good time to consider how we might delineate the policy that embeds in our laws the priorities and values expressed by MLK. What would it mean to protect the right of inhabitants to continue inhabiting land and housing that they’ve been peacefully occupying (for years), particularly in relationship to traditional property rights. The question is: what kind of society do we want to live in? And, has anyone ever heard of Security of Tenure?
Security of Tenure (what I like to call “Peace & Dignity”) is a central component of the human right of housing and it means: every person has the right to occupy their home in Peace & Dignity, free from harassment, forced eviction, and other threats of displacement, including that driven by development and demolition projects.
A home is more than a roof – and it’s more than a mere commodity – it is the very foundation of family stability, personal belonging and community.
Stand up, Fight back!
The Dale Farm eviction is estimated to cost 19.2 million English Pounds and would involve smashing chalets and mobile homes, as well as physically forcing up to 90 families to move without an alternative place to legally live. For more info on how to show solidarity to Dale Farm residents, visit the International Alliance of Inhabitant’s (IAI) website.
To find out what Organizing for Occupation (O4O) is doing now and the status of Mary Ward’s case, visit o4onyc.org.
Join groups around the world partaking in the International Alliance of Inhabitants’ Zero Evictions Campaign this World Habitat Days. Members of the Campaign to Restore National Housing Rights will be launching More Than a Roof. See more details below…
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A Documentary Film Two Years in the Making!!
More Than a Roof is a grassroots documentary film chronicling the first official visit of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing to the United States. Through the Rapporteur’s eyes we see the U.S. human right to housing crisis and an emerging social movement’s response.
The film will be launched nationwide beginning in October 2011 with a series of community screenings organized by the Campaign to Restore National Housing Rights. This nationally coordinated effort is being organized on the occasion of the second anniversary of the October 2009 official mission of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing to the United States and in solidarity with World Habitat Days/World Zero Eviction Days 2011, September 15 – October 31. The film is produced by the Campaign to Restore National Housing Rights, Housing is a Human Right, and the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative. We invite you to bring More Than a Roof to your community. For information on how to obtain a DVD copy of More Than A Roof or to use the film as a movement building tool, visit morethanaroofmovement.org.