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IDENTIFYING, OCCUPYING AND TRANSFORMING “UNIDENTIFIED” PUBLIC HOUSING

Land & Housing Action Group Working Paper #2

Over 3 million homes were foreclosed in 2009. More than 2.4 million are expected in 2010. With the 3 million recorded in 2008, an outrageous 8.4 million plus homes have been foreclosed in the span of 3 years.

Obama’s mortgage modification program has fundamentally failed to save millions of families from losing their homes. The only thing the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) has accomplished is saving the banks and restoring their profits. Meanwhile millions have joined the ranks of the “hidden homeless” while millions of homes sit vacant on the warehousing rolls of the banks and the government.

In November 2009, the Land and Housing Action Group (LHAG) of the US Human Rights Network (USHRN) stated that all the houses cleared for the Banks via TARP constituted public housing as they were purchased with public funds. Building on this position, we demand that all homes and housing units currently being warehoused by the banks and the government be publicly identified and opened to occupation by the millions of families displaced from their homes and the tens of thousands languishing on public and/or affordable housing waiting lists.

The United States government is obligated under international law to respect, protect, and fulfill the human right to adequate housing for all persons residing within the confines of its jurisdiction. Publicly identifying vacant housing stock suitable for occupation is an immediate means for the US government to begin fulfilling its obligations. But, this is just a starting place. Further steps must be taken to protect families and communities from biased policies and the arbitrary dictates of the financial markets.

The Land and Housing Action Group maintains that one of the critical next steps that must to be taken is transforming the vast stock of vacant homes into cooperative housing and land trusts to be directly governed and administered on a local level by impacted families and communities. We believe direct management is essential to avoid the destruction of public housing goods or its deformation into private possessions utilized strictly to generate individual profit.