samedi 1 août 2009

Des communautés squattent avec Take back the land aux USA

Selon le bureau des sondages des ÉU, une maison sur 9 y serait vide. Pendant que ces maisons attendent d'être vendue par leur propriétaires légaux soit les banques ou le gouvernement, les familles qui y résidaient vivent dans la rue. Alors que les programmes gouvernementaux ne réussissent plus à répondre aux besoins de logements, un groupe appelé "Take Back The Land" prend les devant dans l'illégalité en ouvrant les maisons vides à des familles qui en ont évidemment plus besoin que les capitalistes. Voici un reportage avec un des organisateurs de ce groupe(25 min 36)

"Take Back the Land on NOW (PBS TV) June 2009"

Si vous avez un peu moins de 25 minutes pour vous informez, voici un clip plus court, mais plus "crap media" aussi.

et à l'image voici les milles mots:
Take Back the Land
By Max Rameau
Tiré de "news of the global intifada"

The recent economic volatility, marked by a housing boom spurred by massive gentrification and the current cycle of capital divestment resulting in mass foreclosures, has been a major challenge for a social justice movement caught off guard and flat footed. After high rates of housing construction during the boom years, the subsequent bust has witnessed hundreds of thousands of people evicted from their homes. The net result is a simultaneous increase in both the number of homes and the number of families without homes.

It is immoral for human beings to be forced to live on the streets while perfectly good structures stand vacant, sometimes just blocks away. This moral outrage is only compounded by a bailout which extracts billions of dollars from people who need housing for the benefit of corporations which get to keep both the money and the vacant homes, allowing the bank to, effectively, sell the home twice.

While the January 2008 census reported 4,574 homeless people in Miami-Dade County, Florida (including a spike in homeless families), the county endured 4,726 foreclosure-related evictions during the first four months of 2008. Rarely in the social justice movements do the solutions lie in such obvious proximity to the problems they’re meant to solve.

Grassroots organization

In October 2007, Take Back the Land, a Black led, Miami-based grassroots organization,began identifying vacant government owned and foreclosed homes and moving homeless people into them, without permission from the banks or the government. To date, we have liberated seven homes with seven families.

Early on we recognized the movement to liberate housing benefited everyone involved: the occupied homes are protected from the vandalism that often plagues vacant houses, saving the bank thousands in repairs. Families are provided housing security with obvious financial benefits and less obvious mental health benefits from reduced stress levels. Communities are made stronger by the elimination of vacant homes and the neighborhood involvement of their new occupants.

Take Back the Land met for many hours hashing out our guidelines for conducting move-ins. First, we decided to only liberate vacant homes that are government-owned or foreclosed. Additionally, we only select homes in good physical condition, without significant wall or floor board damage.

We find the homes via foreclosure lists or by going street to street, and have them checked out by our scout team and researchers. As for tenants, we focus on families and do not move people with problems that could be exacerbated by living alone, such as severe drug addiction or mental health conditions. We provide them with a standard care package of cleaning supplies and customized donations based on their individual needs such as beds, children's clothes, etc. We do not provide social services, but share phone numbers of appropriate agencies. All families are required to contribute “sweat equity” by cleaning, painting and moving into their homes.

Tenants are given phone numbers and told what to say in the event the police or property manager shows up. They are required to maintain electricity and running water and, equally as important, to be good neighbors. We generally meet and talk with one or more neighbors in advance and encourage the tenants to continue those conversations with them.

Each “move-in” has been handled well, resulting in a full eviction process and not an arrest. Each family has decided to leave the home rather than fight to remain--so far.

Factors conspire

Invariably, every society suffers contradictions between competing sets of rights, such as the right of free speech versus the right to peace and quiet. Each society negotiates those dilemmas, building its culture and history along the way. Every so often, however, factors conspire to heighten contradictions so significantly that the society forever changes as a result.

US society is hurtling towards a major social clash between two contradictory sets of rights: the right of human beings to housing on one side and the right of corporations to maximize profits on the other. The housing bubble demonstrated clearly that the right of corporations to profit threatens the right of many human beings to secure housing. Conversely, the housing bust indicates that the right of human beings to housing encroaches upon the right and ability of corporations to maximize profits by holding on to vacant housing until prices rise again.

Consequently, the economic crisis is compelling a vigorous struggle to determine which set of rights has priority over the other and how that priority is manifest in public policy and day to day life. The struggle will result in a significant social shift which will either see housing elevated to the level of a human right or corporate interests elevated above those of humans. Take Back the Land asserts that the right of human beings to housing supersedes the corporate drive to maximize profits. We advance that assertion by directly challenging existing laws which favor corporate profits over human needs. We urge those who concur to join the struggle for the liberation of land. Forward.

Max Rameau is with Take Back the Land a project of the Center for Pan-African Development. His book, Take Back the Land: Land, Gentrification and the Umoja Village Shantytown, is available on For more information visit: Take Back the Land or email: Blog:

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