Australians Protest Forced Indigenous Community Closures

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Thousands of protesters rallied in Australia’s two largest cities Friday against government plans to forcefully shut down Indigenous communities. Indigenous elder and activist Jenny Munro said the rallies were a “call to arms” to all Australians. “This is about the community being made aware about the truth of what goes on in this country,” she told progressive news website New Matilda. Munro joined thousands of other protesters in Sydney who marched from Belmore Park to the Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy. In a statement issued online, march organizers said they were both frustrated by plans to redevelop the Block – a chunk of the suburb of Redfern earmarked for affordable Indigenous housing. Activists say the very organization charged with providing affordable housing – the Aboriginal Housing Authority (AHC) – is now trying to gentrify the area with commercial office blocks and student accommodation at the expense of Indigenous residents.

Who Benefits From Univ.Of California’s New ‘Global Campus?’

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AFSCME rank-and-filers are campaigning, with student and community allies, for a different kind of “CBA.” At meetings on campus, in local churches, and other venues, they are pressuring the university to sign a “community benefits agreement” that would apply to the “Berkeley Global Campus at Richmond Bay” (BGC) that UC-plans to build in partnership with private developers and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories (LBNL). The new mayor Tom Butt, urged “UCB to reach a legally-binding agreement with community stakeholders” that would commit the BGC to local hiring, job training, and “living wage” standards; use of unionized construction labor; respect for collective bargaining rights of campus workers; use of local businesses as vendors; and creation of an “anti-displacement fund to subsidize the development of affordable housing units and protect low income tenants” from gentrification of adjoining neighborhoods.

The Oligarch Recovery: $100 Million Homes Being Built

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More developers and investors are racing to build increasingly lavish homes on spec. Built on prime lots with master suites larger than most homes and spas and entertainment spaces comparable with those in hotels, many of these homes are also attempting to break new price records. Real-estate agents say the surge reflects an ultraluxury housing market that is at an all-time high, fed in part by overseas buyers and house hunters looking to invest in trophy properties. “These are people who are going to buy these homes to park money,” says Jeff Hyland, of Beverly Hills-based Hilton & Hyland. Mr. Hadid declines to say what he’s spending on the home, but says the listing price will likely be in the $200 million range when the house is completed next year.

Occupy Takes Over Six Buildings In ‘Sleepover’ Housing Protest

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Activists occupied six houses on the Sweets Way estate following a ‘sleepover’ protest. Comedian and actor Russell Brand joined hundreds of people at the housing estate in Whetstone last night, to oppose the redevelopment which has seen families evicted from their homes. He left early this morning. Campaign group Sweets Way Resists has occupied an empty house on the estate since last week, and other activists broke into five more empty houses last night. Housing activist Liam Barrington-Bush, who is involved with Sweets Way Resists, said: “We had some fireworks and there was some music. Then people hung about. At least several dozen stayed the night. “Residents came together at the end of the night and were overwhelmed to find out the petition has now reached 35,000 signatures. We are pretty excited by that. “It’s been a pretty hectic period. There’s been a lot of support coming in from different causes, the strength of the community is the primary thing. Russell pledged to keep the fight going. He has really connected with the kids here.”

These Neighbors Got Together To Buy Vacant Buildings

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In 2011, a group of dedicated neighbors came together to change that. In November of that year, five of them, including Watson, became the founding board of the Northeast Investment Cooperative, a first-of-its-kind in the U.S. cooperative engaged in buying and developing real estate. NEIC created a structure where any Minnesota resident could join the co-op for $1,000, and invest more through the purchase of different classes of nonvoting stock. The group began spreading the word to prospective members, and started looking for a building to buy. One year later, NEIC had enough members to buy the two buildings on Central Avenue for cash. The co-op quickly sold one of the buildings to project partner Recovery Bike Shop, and after a gut renovation, which it funded with a 2 percent loan from the city and a loan from local Northeast Bank, it leased the other building to two young businesses that had struggled to find workable space elsewhere, Fair State Brewing Cooperative and Aki’s BreadHaus.

At Four Sisters Co-Op, An Affordable Housing Dream Realized

Deirdre Keohane (right) and her 23-year-old son Connor returned to live in Four Sisters Co-op, where he grew up in a child-friendly community, after 16 years away.

At one point, Ken Lyotier was literally sleeping on the streets. It was the eighties, and Lyotier was living in the Downtown Eastside — Skid Row it was called then — and struggling with alcohol. His makeshift tent of tarp and pallet barely kept out the winter rains under the dead-end that was the north end of Main Street. At other times he “bounced around” between the single-resident occupancy (SRO) hotels that dot the neighbourhood. “The conditions in the hotels were just appalling — they still are,” he says, sitting on a stool in his home of nearly three decades in the Four Sisters Co-op on Powell Street. “There was no heat, no light, no running water in the wintertime, broken windows, people dying in bathtubs.” Lyotier’s life had once been better. He’d worked assessing real estate for the Land Titles Office, and later worked for a realtor.

Obama’s Foreclosure Program Designed To Help Bankers

(Photo: Fibonacci Blue/flickr CC 2.0)

President Obama will carry several legacies into his final two years in office: a long-sought health care reform, a fiscal stimulus that limited the impact of the Great Recession, a rapid civil rights advance for gay and lesbian Americans. But if Obama owns those triumphs, he must also own this tragedy: the dispossession of at least 5.2 million US homeowner families, the explosion of inequality, and the largest ruination of middle-class wealth in nearly a century. Though some policy failures can be blamed on Republican obstruction, it was within Obama’s power to remedy this one — to ensure that a foreclosure crisis now in its eighth year would actually end, with relief for homeowners to rebuild wealth, and to preserve Americans’ faith that their government will aid them in times of economic struggle.

Brooklyn Tenants Revolt

CHTU members rally on a warmer day—June 7, 2014 (Urban Homesteading Assistance Board)

On one of the coldest days of 2014 I put on long underwear, a flannel shirt, my thickest sweater, a hat, and a scarf, and took the subway two stops down to 1059 Union Street to join the new Crown Heights Tenant Union’s first public action. It was so bitterly cold that I couldn’t help but think about the previous winter, my first in Crown Heights and fourth in Brooklyn, when my heat would mysteriously shut off, often just in time for the weekend when my landlords didn’t answer the phone. My partner likes to say that most New York landlords operate on a continuum between greed and laziness. I figured at the time that mine were hovering closer to the “lazy” end with a bonus bit of cheapness thrown in; they just didn’t want to pay the extra money to really fix whatever was wrong.

Over 2,500 Landless Families Occupy 6 Properties In Brazil

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More than 2,500 families are occupying six properties in Brazil’s Federal District as part of a protest organized by the MTST Homeless Workers Movement, the organization said Sunday. The coordinated occupation was carried out peacefully in Brazlandia, Ceilandia, Planaltina, Recanto das Emas, Samambaia and Taguatinga, all of them cities in the Brasilia metropolitan area. The protesters plan to occupy the properties until an agreement is reached with the regional government, the MTST said. “We are going to stay here until there is an agreement with the government (of the Federal District). We spoke with them on Saturday and we set a new meeting for Tuesday,” the MTST coordinator in Brasilia, Edson Silva, told Efe.

London: Thousands Protest Lack Of Affordable Housing

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Thousands of people gathered outside City Hall on Saturday to demand Boris Johnson urgently tackle the lack of affordable housing in the capital and curb the spiralling rents that they warn are “ripping the heart” out of London. An estimated 5,000 encircled the building and urged the mayor to tackle the burgeoning housing crisis by building more council homes, control private rents and called off the proposed demolition of properties on up to 70 London estates. The crowd marched in boisterous spirits, confident that they can make the increasingly divisive issue of housing a genuine general election battleground. Leading the march as it crossed Tower Bridge in driving rain was Jasmin Stone, from Newham in east London, who chanted “social housing not social cleansing” with her friends.

John Tory: Toronto Will Rent Motel Rooms For The Homeless

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Toronto’s mayor says the city will be turning some motel rooms into shelter spaces for the homeless, with at least 90 spaces to open as early as next week. John Tory says the city will be renting blocks of rooms in two Toronto motels in an effort to make extra space available as needed during the cold weather. It will cost roughly $100,000 from now until March, but Tory says it’s just a short-term solution. A report on the city’s homeless shelter system is expected in a few weeks. Four homeless men died in just over a week in the city, three of them due to the frigid weather.

7 Cities Expose What Gentrification Is Doing

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Twenty-five years ago, the term “gentrification” was largely unfamiliar to the average American. Today, you can’t talk about cities, race, rent or overpriced coffee without bringing it up. It’s a hard phenomenon to measure, yet most agree its harbingers include the rapid influx of young, well-to-do white people into once low-income neighborhoods, often in the inner city, usually populated by people of color. The rest is history. Said people show up, the area is flooded with resources, property value goes up and many former residents are forced to move out. We’ve seen such systems before, those which literally move poor people around, in and out of their homes, at the behest of the wealthy. It’s usually called “colonialism.” And it’s not an inaccurate comparison. This dynamic came to a head last week when a group of Dropbox employees in San Francisco’s notoriously gentrifying Mission District tried to kick a group of local kids off a soccer field they had reserved.

Housing The Homeless In Baltimore’s Vacants

Sleeping in a doorway a block from City Hall last winter.
Photo by: Fern Shen

Housing the homeless of Baltimore in the city’s vacant rowhouses is being floated again by local affordable housing activists whose idea forms the core of an article in the current Atlantic. Their idea is “to create a community land trust – a non-profit that will hold the title to the land in order to make it permanently affordable.” according totoday’s piece by Alana Semuels. “Structures on the land can be bought and sold, but the trust owns the land forever,” she writes about the proposal by Housing Is A Human Right Roundtable, a coalition of labor activists and homeless people affiliated with the United Workers. “A community land trust essentially takes the ‘market’ part out of the housing market, allowing people to buy homes but restricting their resale value in order to make them affordable for the next buyer.”

How Public Art Builds Safer, Stronger Neighborhoods

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Art that merges with the landscape brings human presence, safety, and physical activity into the city’s spaces. This kind of art triggers more than one sense: it is something you move in, touch, and, in some cases, even eat. In Detroit, a spread-out city of single-family homes that is difficult to traverse and pockmarked by vacancy, these artistic interventions are an uncommonly powerful nexus of community life. They create welcoming traffic, as well as opportunities for neighbors to interact and work together. And rather than being a temporary show, in the style of a traveling exhibition or ephemeral installation, this is art for the long-term. It is for a city with a future.

The Long Road From C.J. Peete To Harmony Oaks

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By the time her organization landed a contract to do work in New Orleans, Sandra Moore had felt the city’s tug for more than a year. Moore is president of Urban Strategies, a nonprofit community development company that often partners with developer McCormack Baron Salazar, which specializes in mixed-income and affordable redevelopments. Urban Strategies got a contract in early 2007 to provide services for residents from C.J. Peete, a shuttered New Orleans public-housing complex. When she thought of New Orleans, Moore vividly recalled images broadcast during the wake of Hurricane Katrina: New Orleanians were pleading for water, medical help, and long-delayed buses to take them out of the devastated city.