Fight Big Real Estate
The Empire Files
Low-income Black and Brown housing activists in Philadelphia are fighting to stop the displacement of residents who live in an affordable housing complex in the largely gentrified neighborhood of University City. The complex, known as University City Townhomes, was built to provide affordable housing to low-income residents, many of whom are elderly and disabled, but the property owner has since announced plans to redevelop the property, which is near the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University. We speak with University City Townhomes residents Rasheda Alexander and Sheldon Davids, who have held months of encampments and protests alongside William Barber, president of Repairers of the Breach and co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign. “It was always about greed and money and racism,” says Barber, who notes the move to redevelop the complex is part of a larger assault on poor people and housing services in the United States.
Over the years, I’ve seen what was invested into our community slowly stripped away from us. They took our children’s institutions away, learning institutions, a elementary school, a early childhood center and a high school. And then, years later, they are displacing the families here. But this community has been a close-knit community for over 40 years now, so everybody in the community are pretty close. We’re pretty much like family.
— source democracynow.org | Sep 27, 2022
California in the middle of a record-breaking heat wave, with temperatures 10 to 20 degrees hotter than usual. We’re talking about breaking three digits, over 100 degrees in some places in the region — that’s Fahrenheit.
Some of those most vulnerable are the more than 150,000 people who are experiencing homelessness across the state. In Los Angeles County, there are an estimated 60,000 people who are unhoused, even as some 20,000 hotel rooms remain vacant.
Last week, Governor Gavin Newsom announced new funding for the state’s Homekey program to create homes for people exiting homelessness. It builds on a program called Project Roomkey, which sheltered thousands of people experiencing homelessness during the pandemic at hotels and motels and is now set to end. Governor Newsom spoke at a news conference
Project Roomkey, in our view, was a brilliant idea. We had, during the pandemic, the entire city was bereft of tourists, and so there were tens of thousands — a hundred thousand hotel rooms that were vacant. We had people who were facing homelessness and housing insecurity, and we had hotel workers who were unemployed. And so, the idea was: Can we marry those three problems in this program? And it worked. We were able to put 10,000 unhoused folks into hotels — like Will, in one of our downtown properties, the L.A. Grand — where
— source democracynow.org | Sep 02, 2022
in California, where the Los Angeles City Council voted Tuesday to ban encampments for unhoused people near schools and daycare centers, expanding an anti-homeless ordinance to include some 20% of the city. The vote came after a dramatic meeting where two protesters were arrested as they denounced the council’s vote.
The scope of the problem, really quickly — and thank you for having us on this morning, Amy. The scope of the problem is that Los Angeles does not have currently, or never has had, a real housing plan to address the needs of poor Angelenos. It was interesting listening to the last caller. Here in Los Angeles, 120 people exit houselessness every day in Los Angeles, 50% of whom do it on their own, right? Because it’s a matter of rising rents, losing a job. Of that number, 128 people enter houselessness every day in Los Angeles. And so, as you can see, as the homelessness crisis gets worse, there is no reprieve at the end, because there is not a policy to protect people.
What we continue to see in Los Angeles is the march towards criminalization. That is the strategy. And Los Angeles, it’s an anywhere-but-here strategy. It’s an out-of-sight, out
— source democracynow.org | Aug 11, 2022
Housing advocates are calling on the Biden administration to address the soaring cost of rent with the same level of dedication he’s shown to reducing gas prices. This comes as a new report shows evictions are spiking as rental protections disappear. A coalition of hundreds of tenant unions and housing activists call the situation a national emergency as rental costs rise at the fastest pace in three decades.
We are in D.C. because the rent is too damn high. You heard Zonnie speak to this. But people across the country are being squeezed at the gas pump, at the grocery store, but the biggest expense for most American households is their cost of their housing. It’s their rent. And rents are up 6.3% in the latest inflation figures. This is the biggest increase in rents in 35 years. Median rent across the country is over $2,000 for the first time ever. And people simply can’t afford it. This rent inflation crisis is really sparing no one and no place. So we’re in D.C. with
— source democracynow.org | Aug 11, 2022
Shelter is a basic survival need, along with food, clothing and health care. But it’s even more than that. It’s also a psychic and spiritual need. As the French philosopher Gaston Bachelard wrote: “A home shelters daydreaming, a home protects the dreamer, a home allows us to dream in peace.”
We cannot experience our full humanity without a home, which is one of many reasons why housing is both a basic human need and a basic human right. That’s why the US housing crisis is unforgivable.
According to the federal government’s latest figures, more than half a million (580,000) men, women, and children were without shelter on any given night in 2020. That figure is unconscionable, and it’s been getting worse. The number of chronically unhoused people rose by 21 percent between 2019 and 2020. Now, it’s about to go through the roof.
We don’t know the exact scope of the problem because we don’t have an accurate database of evictions. But we know it’s bad. As the Washington Post reports, the Urban Institute
— source commondreams.org | Richard Eskow | Oct 7, 2021
A majority (54%) of British homeowners would be happy if their own home did not rise in value in the next ten years if it meant houses were more affordable for those who don’t own property, according to YouGov polling commissioned for a new report on Britain’s housing crisis, published today by research and campaign group Positive Money.
The report, ‘Banking on property’, debunks the dominant narrative that inflated house prices are primarily the result of a failure to build enough homes. Rather, the authors argue that the rapid house price growth of recent decades has been driven by the transformation of homes into financial assets, through a loosening of financial regulation and monetary policy, as well as wider policy changes such as tax incentives, right to buy and the deregulation of the private rental market.
Positive Money’s YouGov polling indicates that the majority of the British public – including a majority of homeowners – are in favour of bold reform. As well as most homeowners being happy for house prices not to increase:
Two-thirds of Britons (66%) support the Bank of England being given a target to keep house price inflation low and stable in the same way it does consumer price inflation
— source positivemoney.org | Chloe Musto | 31 Mar 2022
in New York at a vigil Tuesday night, people mourned the 17 victims of a high-rise apartment building in the Bronx, the city’s deadliest fire in decades.
Officials have now released the names of the 17 people who died in Sunday’s deadly fire in the 19-story apartment building in the Bronx. They range in age from 2 to 50 years old. Some came from the same families. All of them died from smoke inhalation. Many were immigrants from West Africa and part of the local Muslim community. A nearby mosque and the Gambian Youth Organization are gathering support for families of the dead and the survivors.
Investigators say Sunday’s fire began when an electric space heater malfunctioned and that victims suffered from severe smoke inhalation after a pair of open doors allowed smoke to spread throughout the building. The building acted as a kind of chimney. City records show tenants of the Twin Parks tower had complained about a lack of heat in the building and doors that didn’t close automatically, as required by law. The building did not have fire escapes or sprinklers, and many people were trapped in upper floors, where self-closing doors were supposed to have blocked toxic smoke and flames from spreading.
— source democracynow.org | Jan 12, 2022