The U.S. Social Forum 2007
The World Social Forum has finally arrived in the U.S. with the slogan “Another World is possible: another U.S. is necessary.”
The USSF take place in Atlanta, Georgia between June 27th and July 1st. This is a strategic step towards building this other world from within the Empire, responding to a real necessity.Going to the heart of the Empire to unite the fight for Housing Rights without Borders
In fact, as the U.S. has been engaging in conflicts around the world, there has been a hidden and deadly war going on within their borders. This unreported war has left millions of lower-income families of all ethnicities in the U.S. without access to the basic human rights to food, housing, healthcare, education, water, heating, communications and decently paying job opportunities.
Within this context, the billions of dollars being spent on the war in Iraq have translated into the most drastic budget cuts at the city, state and federal level in decades. Funding for education, health care, housing, social assistance, drug rehabilitation, and benefits for veteran and active duty soldiers have been slashed. The poor of all races are paying the price of the war.
While the federal government responds to the terrorist attacks of 9/11 with its full strength, it opens itself up to oncoming man-made disasters such as witnessed during and after Hurricane Katrina. The lack of preparation and response to the Hurricane left over a million homeless and over a thousand dead. Two years after this catastrophe, thousands are still homeless, displaced and without basic services, and you should add this to
more than 3 million people homeless and 1 million at risk of losing their homes. The causes of these figures being privatization policies in the sector; federal budget cuts (section 8); urban gentrification processes; and, recently increased mortgage costs.
Atlanta: a city of eviction and struggles
The 1996 Olympic Games gave clear evidence to the gentrification suffered by the poorer residents of the host city.
Meanwhile, approximately 30,000 marginalized Atlanta residents lost their homes and over 9,000 arrest citations were issued to homeless people in an attempt to ‘clean up’ the city for the Olympics. By the time the athletes arrived, downtown Atlanta had been cleared for the white middle classes.
Before this, the Atlanta metro area had a housing deficit of 200 000 units for residents on incomes less than 40,000$ per year, according to the Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership. One-third of households earn less than $40,000 and 63 percent of the region’s jobs pay less than this figure. Despite this desperate situation, the City of Atlanta is planning to demolish what remaining social housing units have not already been converted to so-called "mixed-income," mixed-use developments as part of the AHA Quality of Life Initiative. The project will affect approximately 3,000 units and 9,600 people. In theory, mixed use is great if everybody is accounted for and finds accommodation. In reality, promises of mixed-income housing too often prove to leave most, if not all, of the homeless, and social housing residents out of the equation.For example, one study showed that during the negotiations to demolish the former New Orleans St. Thomas Housing Project in 2002, developers, promising 50%, only built 9% as affordable units.
Finally, lest we forget, the proposal to move all homeless people out of the city, to close the facilities addressing their needs and to “house” them on a redundant military base outside of town.
Building unity within the fight for the Right to Housing without Borders
The USSFprovide space to build relationships, learn from each other's experiences, and share the problems and lessons found within U.S. communities.
The USSF deal with six central themes:
The reconstruction of the Gulf Coast in the post-Katrina period;
War, militarism and the industrial complex of prisons;
Voices of Native People from the heart of mother earth;
Gender and sexuality freedom;
Workers' labor rights in the global economy.
Within these themes, The Hemispheric Council of the Americas Social Forum is organizing two workshops dealing with "Another United States: a View from Latin America” and “Building a 21st Century Socialism?: Transforming Processes in Latin America ", the 29th and 30th of June.
Other organizations facilitate dozens of workshops related to housing rights, social housing and habitat, privatization, criminalization of homelessness and other subjects linked with these urban issues.
“All of the initiatives brought to Atlanta by a variety of organizations will, for the first time, enjoy this historical opportunity to share a common space,” stresses Cesare Ottolini, coordinator of the International Alliance of Inhabitants.
“They [the initiatives] form the foundation for the construction of a united space for the urban social associations and movements fighting for the Right to Housing without Borders. The proposal, launched during the 2004 World Social Forum in Mumbai involves 250 entities from more than 40 countries and every continent. Considering the increasing necessity of connecting local mobilization with the dimension of international solidarity against neo-liberal globalization of cities, “ continues Ottolini, “the Social Forum is the right place to discuss and organize, through an inclusive and united meeting, how best to integrate movements within the U.S.; and, on a global level, the Act Together for Housing for All! Campaign starting by the World Zero Evictions Days in October, 2007 until the World Social Forum’s Global Day of Mobilization, on January 26th, 2008.”
Call for Global Campaign 2007-08: Act together for housing for all!
Appeal for the unity of urban social movements
Atlanta's Olympic Legacy (COHRE)
Activists Mobilize to Save Atlanta Public Housing, Seek Legal Options
Report of the Commission of Truth in the United States
The State of the Nation's Housing 2007
Initiatives on housing at US Social Forum
Stop the High Rent: Housing as a Human Right , People's Hurricane Relief Fund
Organizing for the Human Right to Housing , Coalition to Protect Public Housing
The Poor Organizing for Economic Human Rights of the Poor , Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign
Why promote an economic human rights framework? , Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign
Housing as a Human Right! , National Coalition for the Homeless
Stop Segregation of People with Disabilities: Housing for ALL! , Access Living
Eviction – Gentrification
Right to the City: Building a National Movement Against Displacement and Gentrification , Tenants and Workers United
Right to Self Determination from New Orleans to Miami: Displaced Black Communities' Right to their City , POWER Center for Social Change
Gentrification in Global Cities: Working Class Communities' Right to the City , CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities
Gentrification: The Death of Urban Black Centers, Harlem Tenants Council
Forced Displacement and the Right to Return: Palestine, New Orleans, and Urban America , Middle East Children's Alliance
The Faces of Homelessness , National Coalition for the Homeless
Youth Activism and Homeless Youth Empowerment , Peace for the streets by kids from the streets
Homeless People Organizing for Justice , Picture the Homeless
Families in Extreme Poverty as Equal Partners in Poverty Eradication for Another Possible World , Fourth World Movement
The Criminalization of Homelessness and Poverty , Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless
The Pangaea Project: Young People Taking Leadership on Housing and Homelessness , The Pangaea Project
The Kingdom of God: Inclusion and Celebration , Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless
Atlanta Housing Authority Creating Homelessness: 10,000 residents to be displaced , Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless
Illegal to be Homeless , Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless
Money – Money- Money…Ending Homelessness with Livable Incomes , National Coalition for the Homeless
Illegal/Dangerous to be Homeless in the US , National Coalition for the Homeless
Public and Affordable Housing
National Public Housing Action , Coalition to Protect Public Housing and CVH
Affordable Housing for those in need , "Just" People
Public Housing Policy: History and Opportunities for National Collaboration , Community Voices Heard
Post Katrina New Orleans: The Reconstruction and Rebuilding of a Police State , Critical Resistance New Orleans
Using Methods of Green Building to Develop Affordable Housing , WE ACT, Greenproofing, West Harlem Group Assistance
Right to the City
Best Practices in the Struggle for the Right to the City , FIERCE
Right to the City: Urban Struggle from the Phillipines to South Africa , Just Cause Oakland and POWER
Developing Our Leaders for the Struggle for the Right to the City , PODER
Race, Gender, Nationality: A Fight for the Right to the City , POWER
Participatory Budgeting: Community Control Over Public Money , Liberty Tree, Planners Network, Institute for Policy Studies, Lawrence Community Works
Reclaiming Neighborhoods Through Community-Driven Planning , Environmental Health Coalition
Planning for Social Justice , Planners Network Picture the Homeless
More information and complete program at US Social Forum 2007
Diversos comentarios y reportajes de la prensa sobre el foro están
disponibles aquí .
Los dos paneles organizados por el Foro Social Américas (Consejo
Hemisférico) fueron muy concurridos. Se puede escuchar el audio del
panel: "Otros Estados Unidos: la mirada desde América Latina".