Occupy Our Homes
"Everyone deserves to have a roof over their head and a place to call home. Millions of Americans have worked hard for years for the opportunity to own their own home; for others, it remains a distant goal. For all of us, having a decent place to live for ourselves and our families is the most fundamental part of the American dream, a source of security and pride.
In 2008, we discovered bankers and speculators had been gambling with our most valuable asset, our homes--betting against us and destroying trillions of dollars of our wealth. Now, because of the foreclosure crisis Wall Street banks created with their lies and greed, millions of Americans have lost their homes, and one in four homeowners are currently underwater on their mortgage.
Not only do we have thousands of people without homes, we have thousands of homes without people. Boarded-up houses are sitting empty--increasing crime, lowering the value of other homes in the neighborhood, erasing the wealth that lifts families into the middle class.
The Occupy Wall Street movement and brave homeowners around the country are coming together to say, "Enough is enough." We, the 99%, are standing up to Wall Street banks and demanding they negotiate with homeowners instead of fraudulently foreclosing on them.
Occupy Our Homes is a movement that supports Americans who stand up to their banks. We believe everyone has a right to decent, affordable housing. We stand in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement and with community organizations who help the 99% fight for their homes." (http://occupyourhomes.org/about/)
"Occupy Our Homes has three particularly good instincts.
First, it takes the general critique of inequality that the movement has been voicing -- something often expressed in abstract charts and tables -- and makes the issue concrete.
Since so many people in America are dealing with insecurity about their homes, the shift to doing foreclosure prevention and anti-eviction actions allows new groups of people with a clear sense of their own connection to the struggle to engage with the Occupy movement. Social movements at their best are about helping people take their individual troubles and link them to a public problem and shifting the focus from trying to personally cope to taking collective action.
Second, the campaign connects the Occupy movement with organizing that has been going on for years. Community-based groups have been resisting foreclosures and evictions at least since the bursting of the housing bubble in 2008, if not before. Bringing the energy of Occupy to bear affords these campaigns more visibility and helps scale up local struggles, which can see themselves as part of a national movement.
Third, Occupy Our Homes identifies an arena for concrete change. Thus far, Occupy has been successful in creating enough general unrest to keep issues of inequality from being ignored and to shine a spotlight on the real economic problems affecting the majority of Americans. But as the movement progresses, it will benefit from targeting its discontent. Yes, we need to create a crisis in public consciousness, but the movement also needs to be able to drive specific changes.
As a new frontier for action, Occupy Our Homes raises a variety of difficult questions: How can we make sure that protests at a home or bank are actions that get real results instead of merely momentary occurrences? And how do we scale up so that we are not just addressing the problems of a few homeowners but instead making an impact that can resonate throughout the national economy?
I will be devoting two columns to these pressing questions.
To begin to understand the tactics and prospects of Occupy Our Homes, I spoke with Steve Meacham, organizing coordinator at City Life/Vida Urbana in Boston. City Life is one of the groups that has long been at the forefront of grassroots anti-eviction actions, and I was excited to get Meacham's insights.
First, I asked him about the history of City Life's anti-foreclosure work." (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/amy-b-dean/how-occupy-our-homes-can-_b_1252186.html)