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Housing Rights

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    Housing on the Chopping Block Ben Terrall July 30, 2011

    On February 14 communities across the United States joined together in a collective day of action called by the National Alliance of HUD Tenants. From Washington, DC to Florida, from Maine to California, HUD tenants, foreclosure victims, homeless and poor people, and their supporters held press conferences and community forums to demand full funding of vital housing programs -- including poverty, homelessness, and health programs.

    The San Francisco Valentine’s Day protest was co-sponsored by the Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP) and a broad range of Bay Area housing and social justice groups.

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    The Reluctant Welfare State Morrigan Phillips June 20, 2011

    Social welfare programs are easy fodder for budget debates. A mere 18 percent of the federal budget is earmarked for discretionary spending, which includes welfare programs like public housing, food stamps, and cash assistance. Yet to hear foes spin it, one might think that social welfare programs comprise the bulk of the US budget and are responsible for sinking the country into unimaginable debt.

    To close the fiscal year gap and keep the government running for the rest of fiscal year 2011, Republicans recently took aim at discretionary spending with the Welfare Reform Act of 2011. When the dust settled, the cuts to social services—though less than they would have been due to the quick action of activists, advocates, and some elected officials—were stark. (See sidebar for outline of recent cuts.) These cuts are beginning to play across the country as cash-strapped cities and states have fewer funds from the federal government to use to deliver services.

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    Sekwanele! [Enough is Enough!]: Social Movement Struggles for Land and Housing in Post-Apartheid South Africa Toussaint Losier November 1, 2008

    Amabhulu anyama          

    Asenzeli iworry

     [The black capitalists]

    [Are making us worry]

    - chorus of a contemporary protest song, sung in Xhosa

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    Banks Get Bailed Out, People Get Thrown Out Morrigan Phillips November 1, 2008

    Early in the morning on September 22, before most people had left for work, an unusual scene was unfolding on a quiet street in the Mattapan neighborhood of Boston. Police, television news crews and dozens of people carrying colorful signs and banners, were gathering in front of a quiet home on Duke Street. Breaking the early morning calm, Steve Meacham, a tenant organizer with the Boston group City Life/Vida Urbana (CLVU), began leading a picket in the chant, “JP Morgan you’re no good, get out of our neighborhood.” The scene was an eviction blockade, the eleventh organized this year by CLVU. This time it was for Frances Louis and her family. Of the 11 blockades, nine have successfully stopped evictions after foreclosure.

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    Towards a National Take Back the Land Movement Kamau Franklin April 1, 2010

    At the height of the financial crises in 2008 Max Rameau, a community organizer in Miami for the past ten years, began to see a quiet devastation taking hold in community after community: foreclosure signs, houses for sale, unrented properties, the downward slide of home values as people worried about increased mortgage payments, soaring levels of unemployment, and a gathering storm of homelessness unparalleled since the Great Depression. Max notes, “All around me people seemed to be at the brink of disaster. The government was not doing much so we stepped in and tried to do something dramatic and worthwhile.

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    Take Back Your Land! Take Back Your Homes! Amandla Ngawethu June 1, 2010

    Land was once a public resource for all but has now become a false commodity through privatization. The privatization of land was the original sin, the original cause of the current financial crisis. With the privatization of land comes the dispossession of people from their land which was once held in common by communities. With the privatization of land comes the privatization of everything else, because once land can be bought and sold, almost anything else can eventually be bought and sold.

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