By Anne Meador of DC Media Group. Washington, DC – Just as a cold front blew into town, a tent encampment was razed on Friday in a multi-agency effort to clear out the homeless from many areas around the District. Many people without other shelter have long occupied the space among the chaotic roadways and overpasses between Rock Creek Parkway, the Whitehurst Freeway, and K Street. A few days ago, the occupants were given notice to vacate the area, but few have anywhere to go. Many of the tents were disassembled without protest, while some camp residents vowed to defend their makeshift homes. A few advocates for the homeless arrived to witness the camp’s destruction, but they did not interfere.
By Ishmael N. Daro for BuzzFeed News, A co-founder of Idle No More, the grassroots indigenous rights movement, has launched a crowdfunding campaign to build homes in First Nations communities. Sylvia McAdam told CBC News she decided to act after seeing how dire the housing situation was in Big River First Nation in Saskatchewan, where she was born and raised. “You don’t realize what is in your own backyard until you go door-to-door and actually go visit the people in their own homes,” McAdam said. The campaign is called One House, Many Nations. Organizers are looking to raise $15,000 to build a log cabin on a Saskatchewan First Nation, with more campaigns planned to build more homes later.
By Staff of CBS News – Members of the advocacy group known as Idle No More have launched an initiative aimed at improving housing on First Nations reserves. The campaign — called One House, Many Nations — was announced Wednesday. It aims to provide assistance to people living in desperate housing conditions. “I was horrified to see the condition of many of the houses.”- Sylvia McAdam. Sylvia McAdam, one of the co-founders of Idle No More, said she was moved to address the issue after seeing some of the housing on her home community, the Big River First Nation, which about 120 kilometres northwest of Prince Albert.
By Staff for the Manchester Evening News – Homeless activists have promised to set up a ‘community hub’ for rough sleepers after occupying an empty building in Manchester city centre. The homeless rights campaigners have vowed to remain in the vacant office block on Charlotte Street for ‘months’ after taking it over last night. They say they are occupying the building to set up a hub where homeless people can go to get food, shelter and help to find accommodation and work. Claiming the legal right to occupy the building under squatter’s rights, they say they have been forced to act as the council are not doing enough for the city’s homeless. They also claim that members of the fire service have been to the building to assess that it is safe for them to stay in.
By Staff of Idle No More, “The story of Neeve Nutarariaq is heartwrenching. We cannot stand idly by – we have to take action on the issue of housing.” – Anna Lee-Popham, Idle No More organizer. Housing is a basic human right, one that should be readily available in a wealthy country such as Canada. However due to a series of past and present governmental policy decisions to move toward austerity rather than addressing the impacts of an ongoing housing crisis, federal and provincial governments have cut back on housing support, women’s shelters and other social programs that support families. As a result, Canada is experiencing a growing housing crisis that encompasses all people; it’s particularly affecting Indigenous women, two-spirit people and their families.
By Ashoka Jegroo for Waging Nonviolence – Hundreds of protesters in New York City took to the streets on September 17 in a variety of actions against racism, gentrification and police brutality. The day marked the fourth anniversary of Occupy Wall Street with actions taking place in at least three boroughs. “We had a day of action that was around racism, police brutality and anti-gentrification specifically because we needed to have a way to be very intersectional about all of what’s happening in our communities,” said Imani Henry, an organizer with Equality For Flatbush. “Gentrification is about landlords, corporations, the de Blasio administration, [Brooklyn Borough President] Eric Adams, and every borough president who is allowing developers into our neighborhood. It’s about community boards, re-zoning issues and struggles that we never ask for. And it’s also about the cops occupying our neighborhoods.”
By Peter Moskowitz for the Guardian – Soaring rents in San Francisco are pushing school teachers out of the city they work in, union officials fear, causing high turnover rates and reducing the time teachers are able to spend in the classroom because of long commutes. Housing is considered affordable if you can spend under 30% of your income on it, according to federal guidelines. By those standards, no one making the average teacher’s wage of $69,400 a year in San Francisco could afford a one-bedroom rental, for which the median price is $3,500, in any of the city’s neighborhoods. The starting salary for public school teachers is $50,000. Teachers union officials say the number of vacancies in San Francisco school districts has grown higher and higher each year, as the tech boom has transformed the housing market, making the city unaffordable even to veteran teachers.
By Emma Whitford in Gothamist – Dozens of Crown Heights tenants and allies gathered for a candlelight vigil near the corner of Schenectady Avenue and Union Street last night, in solidarity with 55 families at 285 Schenectady and 1646 Union who will be evicted on October 1st—unless they agree to sign leases doubling, and in some cases tripling, their rents. In August, after months of tenant organizing, the New York State Supreme Court ruled in favor of the tenants’ landlord, Renaissance Realty Group, citing a loophole in the current rent laws that gives Renaissance the right to jack rents. “I’ve been living in this neighborhood for 26 years,” said Natasha Creese, who shares a three-bedroom at 285 Schenectady with three adult siblings, her 18-year-old son, and her five-year-old niece.
By Ben Adler for Grist – Forty-seven years after the passage of the Fair Housing Act, you might think that these problems are gradually disappearing. You would be wrong. “Architecture of Segregation,” a new study from the Century Foundation, a liberal think tank, finds that concentrated poverty, especially among African-Americans and Latinos, is actually getting worse. Among the key findings: “The number of people living in high-poverty ghettos, barrios, and slums has nearly doubled since 2000, rising from 7.2 million to 13.8 million.” “Poverty became more concentrated [since 2000] — more than one in four of the black poor and nearly one in six of the Hispanic poor lives in a neighborhood of extreme poverty, compared to one in thirteen of the white poor.” But the culprit isn’t simply racial discrimination — it’s also suburban sprawl.
By Divya Rao for Rooflines – Over the last few years, communities have witnessed the latest iteration of Wall Street predation—the purchase in bulk of distressed single-family mortgages and foreclosed homes (REOs) with the intent to rent them- so called REO to Rental. Investors are muscling out first time home buyers, displacing tenants, outbidding nonprofit affordable housing developers, and changing the demographics of communities. This new scheme is being funded in the same way that caused the foreclosure crisis- by securitizing housing payments (this time, rent payments) and passing on the risk to communities. A recent survey by the California Reinvestment Coalition of 80 community based organizations identifies some of the most concerning trends, provides context for who is funding this recent boom, and makes recommendations to protect communities from additional harm.
By Sonya Dowsett for Reuters – The newly-elected left-wing mayor of Madrid on Tuesday overturned eviction orders for 70 families living in social housing and safeguarded more than 2,000 similar rental contracts. The move is the latest by the administration of Manuela Carmena, backed by anti-austerity party Podemos, to protect housing in a country where a property boom-and-bust has resulted in tens of thousands of families losing their homes. “There were 70 processes under way, but today those families have recovered their homes. Nobody is going to be thrown out on the street,” Carmena said after meeting activists. Carmena took office in June after her Ahora Madrid (‘Madrid Now’) alliance of community activists formed a coalition with the opposition Socialists to end 24 years of centre-right People’s Party (PP) rule in the capital.
By Carl Finamore in CounterPunch – Last year, San Francisco tenant rights’ supporters scored an important victory when voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition K, requiring all new housing developments provide 33% low and moderate-cost units. The objective was to put a lid on the unregulated, speculative construction boom that earned the city its most contentious distinction of being the country’s second most expensive place to live, just after New York City. Housing activists say Prop K was a partial victory but more is needed. That next step of “reining in record-high eviction rates” was announced at a July 27 city hall press conference attended by over 75 community, labor and political leaders. “The data clearly shows that the evictions crisis and resulting loss of rental units” is a big blow to the city meeting its affordable housing goals, said Board of Supervisor Jane Kim.
By Lauren Regan of the Civil Liberties Defense Center. EUGENE, OR: On Friday July 24, 2015, the Assistant City Attorney of Eugene dismissed a criminal case that he filed and prosecuted against Hedin Brugh, a long-time SLEEPS activist who advocated for unhoused people. The Civil Liberties Defense Center’s Lauren Regan had filed a constitutional challenge to the third attempt by Lane County to shut down First Amendment rights at the Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza located at 8th and Pearl Streets. Regan and the CLDC had successfully challenged two prior attempts by Lane County to restrict the constitutional rights of SLEEPS protestors who occupied the Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza as an integral aspect of their peaceful protest. “Each time the Court ruled in our favor and found that the County had acted illegally, the County would attempt to devise another scheme to unconstitutionally restrict First Amendment rights on the Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza.”
By David Dahlborn in The Student Assembly – If we learn one thing from the recent rent strikes at University College London (UCL) and the School of African and Oriental Studies (SOAS) it should be this: we won and we can win again. In 21st century London rent strikes still work. And we should use them frequently to win campaigns by concentrating our forces at our enemies’ weakest point. Oppressive rents, scumbag landlords and gentrification caused by property investment are rampant. There is talk across London and the country of the need for housing campaigns and a “fightback” against property owners and their landlord lackeys. What we have demonstrated is that, alongside well-practiced campaigning methods – demos, occupations and blockades – it will, above all, be rent strikes that enable us to coerce the ruling class to concede to our demands for better and affordable housing.
By Timothy Ginty in RoarMag – In February 2009, after the Spanish government had shown itself incapable of enforcing Article 47 of the Spanish Constitution — declaring that “all Spaniards have the right to enjoy decent and adequate housing” — a citizens’ assembly was held in Barcelona to establish the Platform for People Affected by Mortgages, or the PAH (Spanish: Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca), a social movement which would wait for neither government action nor market corrections for this right to be enforced. The PAH’s immediate aims are simple — the prevention of the systematic eviction of tens of thousands of debtors across Spain — but its larger dream is bolder: the achievement of the socio-economic conditions in which the human right to housing may be secure.