Housing

Luz Smedbron ― a disabled mother of three originally from Ecuador ― and about a dozen housing rights advocates, stood together on Smedbrons' porch in Addison, Illinois on July 29. With protest signs in hand, they chanted: "The people united, will never be defeated!" DuPage County sheriffs moved in, but protesters stood their ground. As news cameras arrived on the scene, the officers slunk back to their patrol cars, looking confused and embarrassed. They radioed for reinforcements.
This years global uprisings remind us how infectious the revolutionary spirit can be. In recent weeks, a social movement within Israel has sprung to life in an almost spontaneous manner. A small housing protest that started on July 14 has swept hundreds of thousands of people into protest across the country. As in many other countries, people in Israel face rapidly rising living costs and the privatisation of public assets. Israel once saw itself as a welfare state (though its policies have been designed to benefit mainly the Jewish population since its inception).
Victorian planning minister Matthew Guy has taken control of planning issues at Fitzroy and Richmond housing estates, enraging Yarra Council and tenants. In the July 26 Melbourne Times Weekly, Alana Schetzer: “The Department of Human Services last week informed the council of the decision, which took effect immediately. Mayor Alison Clarke said the council was shocked, adding the decision removed community consultation on future planning applications. The Federal government is due to fund a $113 million redevelopment of the estates.”
In recent weeks, something unprecedented has erupted in Israel. Protesting the high cost of living, especially of housing, predominantly young people have established protest camps. The campaign was sparked by a young single mother who, in desperation over her housing situation, pitched her tent outside the Knesset (Israeli parliament). Now the tent protests have spread like wildfire all over Israel.
The Perth community has witnessed in past weeks an inspiring mobilisation of people affected by homelessness or as they like to be called, the “streeties”. It started as a small rally to protest against the treatment of those living on the streets during the Commonwealth Heads Of Government Meeting (CHOGM), and against insensitive comments made by Liberal police minister Rob Johnson. Now it has broadened to challenge the government on homelessness.
The local residents’ action group "Hands off Glebe" held a protest on May 18 to stop the demolition of public housing in Cowper St, Glebe. The 15 buildings on the Cowper St site have the capacity to house 289 people but the former NSW Labor government decided to sell most of the land to private developers, with the remnant being earmarked for new public and so called affordable housing. The newly-elected Greens MP for Balmain, Jamie Parker, joined and addressed the protest. Workers on the site stopped work for the day in support.
Twenty five people joined a demonstration organised by homeless people to protest plans by the Western Australian government to remove homeless people from the city during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in October. on the street.” A parliamentary debate on April 7 revealed that homeless people would be directed away from CHOGM security areas in the city. Protesters were upset the government wanted to keep them out of sight during the CHOGM summit without doing anything to tackle homelessness.
Landlord and tow truck operator Frank Cassar owns rental properties and rooming houses around Fitzroy, Clifton Hill and Elsternwick. He has ignored dozens of fines and orders imposed by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal and the Magistrate’s Court since 1999 for his flagrant violation of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997. Consumer Affairs Victoria, the government body with the power to prosecute, has vowed to take him on. But so far, there has been no action.
Housing action group City is Ours organised a protest outside housing minister Richard Wynne’s office on November 12, to highlight Melboune’s growing housing crisis. City is Ours has also recently organised a public meeting and a protest against rooming house evictions outside Moreland Council’s offices.

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