Take Back the Land (Gentrification is Dead )
As the housing liberation movement grows, Take Back the Land is featured in many US and International news / watch the videos here:
Take Back the Land, a project of the Center for Pan-African Development, propositions that Gentrification is Dead.
Read Gentrification is Dead.
History of Take Back the Land
On October 23, 2006 a group of homeless people and local activists took over a vacant lot on the corner of 62nd Street and NW 17th Avenue, jointly owned by the city of Miami and Miami-Dade County, and erected tents. We planted a sign exclaiming the emphasis and name of the movement: Take Back the Land. Since then, the Umoja Village Shantytown, which takes its name from the Swahili word “umoja” or unity, has grown into a self-sustaining community housing 50 otherwise homeless people. The Village includes approximately 20 wood-framed structures, multiple duplex-style housing units built from wooden pallets, a fully functional kitchen, two porta-potties and a shower powered by an elevated water container. Residents are trained to run the Village themselves and vote on aspects of Village life.
While the mass media has celebrated what they have coined the “development boom”, the black community has been struggling to retain their homes amidst the raised rents and deteriorating living conditions. Miami has experienced a shift from being the haven for affordable retirement to being the center of land-based wealth building. The tens of millions of dollars designated by the county and city governments for low-income housing development was instead distributed to wealthy developers to create luxury condominiums that would attract wealthy investors outside of the community. Consequently, the black community has been enduring gentrification—the forced removal and replacement of low-income resident by wealthier people.
When the mass media issued reports on the corruption of government officials and their shady dealings with certain developers, the general public was outraged and a political opportunity was created to take back the land. Through the allowances of the Pottinger Settlement Agreement, The Take Back the Land movement set up temporary structures that would enable previously homeless people to conduct activities such as eating, sleeping, and other life sustaining activities.
The Take Back the Land movement is based on several theoretical assumptions: 1.The movement is fundamentally about Land. Black people have the right to control land in their own community and use it for the public good. 2.The government is an integral part of the problem. Therefore, it cannot be depended upon to shape the solution. 3.Development is not about buildings, paved streets or technology. True development is about the lives and potential of actual people.
The political component of Take Back the Land is led by an all-black decision making group. It is crucial that the movement to empower the black community is led by members of that community. However, the organizers of the movement also understood the importance of collaborating with other concerned parties and sought the support of Lake Worth Global Justice, a group of mostly young white people concerned with globalization, environmental and land issues.
Since the inception of the Umoja Village, the Take Back the Land movement has organized a rally to call for ‘hands off’ the Umoja Village; initiated a Week of Action Against Gentrification campaigns from January 29 to February 3, 2007 in order to challenge local governments and raise consciousness in the larger Miami community to the failures of the governing officials; have been the subject of national and international media coverage; inspired local college students to volunteer, study the impacts of gentrification and build a mock shantytown at FIU; most recently, a benefit concert was held at the village to raise funds for the continual operation.
On April 26, 2007, the Umoja Village burned to the ground under suspicious circumstances.
In October 2007, Take Back the Land began identifying vacant government owned and foreclosed homes and moving homeless people into people-less homes.
The Take Back the Housing campaign continues to this date.
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