Statement by MieterInnenverein Witten (Witten Tenants Assoc.) on behalf of the “International Working Group for the Regulation of Real Estate Markets and Market Alternatives” to the Habitat III Plenary 20th Oct. 2016
Within the frame of the conference „Ways to affordable Housing“ of the German Network Renting & Housing, Sept. 16 & 17 in Berlin, Humboldt University <GERMAN PROGRAM HERE> housing right internationalists are organizing workshops dealing with critical views on Habitat III and political proposals for the regulation of financialized real estate corporations.
May 31 a huge majority of delegates at the biannual federal assembly („Mietertag“) of the German tenant union “Deutscher Mieterbund” (DMB) voted for two motions expressing a political rejection of the planned free trade agreements TTIP and CETA. The delegates, who represent regional and local associations with a membership basis of 1.27 million households, were especially concerned about possible consequences of the planned investor protection through state independent arbitral tribunals (“investor-state dispute settlement“) on rental laws.
For the development of an Anti-TTIP front in the housing field this clear standpoint of the big German tenant union is a big success. Just in April some groups started to raise the international housing questions as part of the TTIP. See the statement here:
Blackstone is one of the largest private equity firms world wide. It also is used to “invest” the money it collects into speculation with housing and mortgage in many countries, the U.S., Spain, Germany forinstance. Recently it bought up parts of the publicly bailed out Catalunya Bank. People from the orgnaization of those affected by mortgage (PAH) in Barcelona as well as groups in New York City and San Francisco did some parallel action of protest.
See the PAH movie and statement:
Blackstone, the world’s largest real estate private equity fund bought part of , a Spanish financial institution that received 12 billion euros ($15.4 billion) of taxpayers’ money as a bail out. Blackstone buys non-performing loans at huge discounts but these loans are actually families, families who have lost their jobs and are now about to be evicted from their homes. Everyday citizens receive no aid or solutions to social problems while global financial billionaires profit from bailed out banks. For PAH activists this is abusive and unjust to all citizens. These homes belong to people not to financial profiteers. Foreclosures and evictions are rapidly escalating in Spain under Blackstone’s pressure, but the PAH has a message: this is a global fight for the right to housing, we won’t stop, and we will win. Si Se Puede
Diverse housing action groups in London have called for protests againt the real estate fair “MIPIM UK”. Hashtag for the campaign is #stopMIPIM.
Here is a flyer from the the “radical housing network“:
MIPIM, the world’s biggest property fair, is coming to London, October 15-17th.
MIPIM proudly describes itself as the world’s largest property fair, attracting around 20,000 investors, developers, local authorities, and banks each year.
It usually takes place annually in Cannes, France. This year will see the first MIPIM UK, to be held at London’s Olympia 15-17 October. Billed as ‘the 1st UK property trade show gathering all professionals looking to close deals in the UK property market’ – a gathering of professionals and elites looking to profiteer from UK land and property.
Join affected communities, the Radical Housing Network, the European Action Coalition for the Right to Housing and the City, Defend Council Housing, trade unions and a range of other groups to demand a City for People, not for Profit.
MIPIM UK: 15 – 17 October, Olympia W14 8UX
Opening protest – #blockBoris: Wednesday 15 October from 9am
Alternative conference Cities for People, Not for Profit: Thursday 16th and Friday 17th until 4pm
Closing protest – Paper round the Houses: Friday 17 October from 5pm
… and here a call from Lewisham Defend Council Housing (“an open group dedicated to resisting any proposals to privatise council housing”):
The MIPIM trade fair is the world’s largest property trade fair. For the first time London will be hosting the event (normally held in Cannes) with an opening address from our mayor, Boris Johnson.
Given the estimated 340,000 households on the housing waiting list across London, the steady rise in homelessness rates and emergency housing in B&Bs and hostels (often for families and vulnerable individuals) it is clear we need truly affordable social housing and effective regulation of the private rental market.
Instead of our politicians looking into a sustainable housing sector, we get the mayor opening MIPIM, with many councils keen to strike up lucrative deals with property developers. MIPIM will be a place to discuss further profiteering from the capital’s housing market, including some great talks such as “Social Housing: What’s the point?” and “NHS Restructuring: Opportunities for the Property Industry”.
We need to send out a clear message: London needs to think of housing as a public right, events like MIPIM promise more of the same profiteering which has given us scandals like the Heygate Estate “regeneration” (http://www.urban75.org/blog/elephant-and-castle-regeneration-outrage-2535-new-homes-and-just-79-social-rented-units/), the almost now almost meaningless definition of “Affordable Housing” (http://www.theguardian.com/housing-network/2014/feb/03/affordable-housing-meaning-rent-social-housing) and Boris Johnson’s constant siding with luxury private developers against council’s protests (http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/architecture-design-blog/2014/jan/29/boris-johnsons-abuse-of-planning-power-is-an-assault-on-democracy).
The surge in homelessness and soaring housing waiting lists doesn’t happen by accident, this is what happens when London only views housing as an asset, never a public right.
Enough is enough, #stopMIPIM , deliver the housing we need.
You can find out more about the #stopMIPIM campaign athttp://radicalhousingnetwork.org/
European Action Coalition demands European social housing policies and immediate protection against “financial evictions”
As a consequence of the unsolved crisis and anti-social austerity measurements the housing situation of many Europeans has extremely worsened during the past five years. This is the reason why, before the coming elections to the European Parliament and to many local councils, housing grass-root groups of the “European Action Coalition for the Right to Housing and to the City” are joining protests for a democratic and social transformation of the European structures and for a rights based approach in urban development. We urgently need an immediate stop of forced evictions which are the result of financial speculation and economic collapses. And we need a general shift from the rule of financialized real estate markets to social housing policies. Below, we want to highlight two of the national protests..
In SPAIN economic growth for a long time was based on a construction bubble which was financed by the expansion of family indebtedness in favour of globalized investors. When this speculative model collapsed and unemployment increased many people became unable to pay the high rents and debts which were a result of the overvalued housing stock. Since 2007 more than 500.000 foreclosure processes were initiated. In 2011 more than 100 evictions took place every day. While no national legislation and no European program protected housing rights the established crisis management mechanisms are still continuing to transform the livelihoods in Spain into financial assets, for example by selling the remaining public housing and bad bank (SAREB) property to global speculators.
Since 2009, mortgage victims have organized themselves in the “Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca” (PAH) with the purpose to mobilise and protect the right to housing from below. PAH blocked thousands of evictions and occupied vacant properties, amassed by financial institutions, to relocate thousands of families that had become homeless. A judgment of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) that Spain’s mortgage law was abusive and incompatible with European consumer rights seemed to back the positions of PAH. However, Spain’s government, headed by the Popular Party (PP), has mostly dismissed the court decision and only applied it partly. Government has also repeatedly blocked a Popular Legislative Initiative (ILP) presented by PAH and backed by 90% of the population.
At 9th May PAH in Barcelona and other cities will start actions which will inform voters and remind politicians on the pending legislation and their responsibility for leaving thousands homeless and indebted for the rest of their lives. The three demands on the ILP are now more needed than ever: (1) moratorium on evictions, (2) regulate Dación en pago for all debtors in good faith: it means that mortgage debt must be cancelled as soon as a house is foreclosed and repossessed by the bank, (3) transformation of foreclosed properties in the hands of banks into affordable housing.
The new PAH campaign will demonstrate that self-organized citizens will be vigilant and combative again. Democratic politics are not those agreed in bank offices or behind the public eye, but those claimed by citizens – in the streets if necessary!
Similar to many other countries, property prices in FRANCE have doubled over the last ten years while rents have increased by 50%. According to the organization „Droit au Logement“ (DAL) this price explosion has been heated up by investor-orientated „urban renewal“-projects, privatisation of public land, tax reductions for real estate speculators and the deregulation of rents. Another reason for the price bubble is the inadequate number of new housing construction, especially of social housing.
„During the past five years the French state has abused public savings of 120 billion €, which originally were dedicated to social housing, for the support banks“, DAL says. „The social consequences have been disastrous: 30% of renters spend more than half of their income on housing costs, 120 000 eviction authorizations were made in 2012, 140 000 people have no shelter. That is twice as much as 10 years ago. Laws protecting the homeless and poorly-housed are ignored, and shantytowns are reappearing.“ As a consequence of the economic crisis and public deficit the French have to fear an increasing conflict with the European fiscal regime, which soon can result in further social degradation and housing shortage.
DAL together with other social movements like ATTAC will organize a march of protest against austerity. On May 17 protesters will walk from the Place de l’Opéra in place of the Republic in Paris with stops at banks and institutions.
Many more protests against the European austerity will include slogans and actions against real estate speculation and for the Right to the City, for instance the Blockupy demonstration in Düsseldorf, Germany, at 17th May. We call for participation.
HOUSING FOR PEOPLE, NOT FOR PROFIT!
STOP EVICTIONS AND EXPENSIVE RENTS!
The „European Action Coalition for the Right to Housing and the City” since 2013 has been trying to develop new approaches for a transnational cooperation between multiple local alliances. Through parallel decentralized activities (European Action Days, Oct. 2013), coordinated solidarity action (against the criminalization of homeless in Hungary, Feb. 2014), targeted protests at business shows (“Anti-Mipim”, March 2014 in Cannes) and the development of concrete common European demands it intends to challenge the global real estate actors as well as the European austerity regime.
- PAH International Committee
- PAH: Campaña de escraches al PP en las elecciones europeas
- Droit au Logement (DAL)
- No Vox
- Witten Tenants Association: Gegen verschlechterte Wohnbedingungen in Europa
Contacts for this statement:
- PAH International Commission – pahinternacional <at> gmail.com
- Annie Pourre, DAL and No Vox, pourre.annie <at> orange.fr
- Knut Unger, MieterInnenverein Witten, knut.unger <at> mvwit.de