Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Right to Housing Event at Manilatown Heritage Foundation

Last night Tenants Together was one of several co-sponsors for an event hosted by the Manilatown Heritage Foundation in San Francisco.

Chester Hartman (pictured left) gave an insightful presentation on "Right to Housing." Hartman is an urban planner, author, and Director of Research for the Poverty and Race Research Action Council in Washington D.C. and Adjunct Professor of Sociology at George Washington University.

Hartman actively organized the resistance to stop eviction at San Francisco's International Hotel in 1977. The event was held at the New International Hotel Senior Housing/Manilatown Center where the original International Hotel once stood.

Other co-sponsors for the event included St. Peters' Housing Committee, Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco, Just Cause Oakland, Fair Housing of Marin, Asian Law Caucus, Bay Area Legal Aid, SF Human Rights Commission, National Housing Law Project, and Chinatown Community Development Center.

Emil de Guzman of the Manilatown Heritage Foundation

Hartman stressed that as a society we must reframe our thinking when it comes to housing -- it can't just be a goal to provide housing for all, we must consider it a universal human right. He also stressed the need for housing advocates to work hand in hand with advocates in the fields of education, public health, etc. as the issues and struggles in these different fields are closely connected. Only by building coalitions across disciplines will we ever be successful in achieving adequate and affordable housing for everyone.

Hartman explained that we must rethink the entire housing system and not leave it merely to the mercy of the free market. We need to emphasize grants vs. loans for housing, and create more community land trusts etc.

When asked about predatory lending and the foreclosure crisis, Hartman noted that tenants are the hidden victims in the crisis and that it's vital that their rights be protected and that lenders be held accountable for their treatment of the tenants in foreclosed properties.

Chester Hartman is the author of several books including City for Sale: The Transformation of San Francisco, and There Is No Such Thing As a Natural Disaster: Race, Class & Hurricane Katrina.


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