The Haitian Collective to the Defend the Right to Housing* is carrying out a series of advocacy and reflection activities to commemorate World Habitat Day, October 1, 2012.
The right to housing is fundamental. The Collective has chosen this as the theme for this year’s activities: « The struggle for social housing is the struggle to live as human beings. »
History of World Habitat Day
In 1985, faced with a growing, global housing crisis, the United Nations declared the first Monday of October to be World Habitat Day. The day was commemorated for the first time in 1986, on the 10th anniversary of the first international conference on housing issues.
Ever since, organizations around the world mobilize during the month of October to amplify the voices of people sleeping in the streets, people to whom society has not granted spaces to live. It is a time to find ways for homeless people to participate in creating solutions to housing issues.
Haiti’s Housing Crisis
The roots of the housing problem in Haiti lie in the structure of this society – a society built on exclusion, rather than organized to ensure that all receive the services they need. Housing is a basic, fundamental right. Although the Haitian government has the responsibility to guarantee this right, it has never taken steps to ensure that everyone has a place to live. Similarly, the State has never been concerned with guaranteeing that everyone has access to food, or to healthcare.
The January 12, 2012 earthquake brought Haiti’s housing problem to light. More than two years after the catastrophe, thousands of families are still living under tents. Many are threatened with forced eviction. Meanwhile, the Haitian government has yet to announce what they intend to do to resolve the housing crisis.
This is a serious violation of human rights, especially economic, social and cultural rights. In Haiti, any human rights advancements are civil and political. However, they are all connected. Economic, social and cultural rights cannot be separated from civil and political rights.
The Collective’s Position
When faced with the housing problems in this country, Haitian society cannot sit back with its arms crossed. We must struggle for an alternative plan, one that will construct a country in which the right to housing is guaranteed, because this right is also connected to issues of employment, education, healthcare, electricity, transportation, communication, labor conditions, zoning, government policies on environmental management, etc.
The Collective to Defend the Right to Housing renews its calls on the government to urgently:
- Claim land through eminent domain that can be designated for housing needs
- Consult the population on decisions regarding where housing and neighborhoods are built. We should be giving input into what kind of Port-au-Prince, what kind of city, we want to construct!
- Create a budget for social housing. So much money is wasted in this country that could be invested into meeting people’s social needs.
- Subsidize dignified, quality housing for those that cannot afford it. Ensure that the mortgage financing program through the National Bank (BNC) actually assists the people that need it – the vulnerable, the handicapped – so that they can repair or build quality homes.
Objective of World Habitat Day Activities
The Collective is organizing activities for these reasons:
- To raise public awareness on the housing crisis and how it affects everyone in the country
- Encourage dialogue with displaced people on what solutions they would like to see created and what kinds of housing and neighborhoods they believe the country’s leaders should build
- Present the Collective’s resolutions to a wide variety of institutions involved in this issue
What Activities are Planned?
- Press Conference (Friday, September 28, 10 AM)
- Reflection and Dialogue in 3 camps
- Camp Kid (Christroi) (Friday, September 28)
- Camp Gaston Magwon (Carrefour) (October 3)
- Camp Megakat (Delmas) (October 4)
- Creation of an advocacy document based on dialogue with camp residents
- Cultural activity in Camp Avik (Sunday September 30)
- Visit from South African Slumdwellers Movement delegation (19-25 October)
- Visits with members of the Collective
- Meetings with other organizations working on housing rights
- Projection of the ‘Dear Mandela’ film in camps
- Day of Reflection on the theme, “The struggle for social housing is the struggle to live as human beings.” (GARR office, October 19, 10 AM-3 PM)
- Advocacy activities
- Meetings with Parliamentary commissions
- Meeting with the UCLBP
- Camps in Christroi are organizing a peaceful march for World Habitat Day.
*Members of the Haitian Right to Housing Collective include: GARR, FRAKKA, DOP, POHDH, PAPDA, KRD, BATAY OUVRIYE, SJR-Haiti.