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The Urban Way

Leaving the market to house a billion people

(WAI, Tunis, 28 March 2013)


Cesare Ottolini : Presentation of the workshop objectives
Pascale Thys :  Presentation of the World Map of Urban Habitat and its relationship to the proposals
Paul Maquet Makedonski : Presentation of the Latin American initiative to formulate organised and participative alternatives for peoples' housing.
Jules Dumas : Cooperative experience in Cameroon
Antonhy Prashant : Experience from India
Cristina Almazán : Experience from Mexico

Summary of proposals

1.The objective is to organise the work of making participative and joint proposals, that come from the organisations, to find housing for a billion people in the coming years across the world.

2. In order to achieve this, we need specific tools to support this work. An important tool for this purpose is the World Map of urban habitat which organises information and provides analysis of the problems, policies, legal framework, proposals and actors involved.

3. For Latin America and the Caribbean, the organised movements are coming together in each country, as well as in international networks, to conduct national analyses and formulate alternative proposals for housing, distinct from the neoliberal recipes of the International Development Bank. We would like to propose a series of alternatives in accordance with each reality and present them to national governments and the official regional coordination bodies, to help to create awareness in each country and to put pressure on governments in order to force through changes to public policy.

4. As a framework for this effort, we are agreed on the following key points:

a) Support the struggle against evictions with positive proposals on how to address the housing issue.

b) Despite the considerable differences that may exist in each country, the problems have common origins and the policies are based on the same neoliberal principles: Housing is conceived of as a market, as a "lever for growth" and an individual problem.

  • This is why the solution must be a statement of alternative shared principles: We propose setting the objective of finding dignified housing for a billion people; supporting cooperation and solidarity rather than competition and greed, and establishing housing as a human right; conceiving of housing as a complex and diverse phenomenon; basing the solution to the housing issue on inhabitants getting organised, analysing the concrete realities of each situation, and respecting specific differences in each case.
  • On this basis, we propose that solutions should be local and local action plans should be implemented for  land, habitat, housing and the city.
  • For the implementation of these alternative policies, we need to find adequate financial resources involving the external debt and adequate systems of management suited to each reality.
  • In the workshop we heard experiences from Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, both cooperative and self-managed, illustrating the variety of alternatives that exist.
  • It was proposed right here that this Latin American initiative enters into dialogue with and is replicated in other regions in order to present a united front of struggle and proposals to confront the neoliberal housing policies that are predominant today on a global level.


The Volunteer translator for housing rights without frontiers of IAI who has collaborated on the translation of this text was:

Juliette Rutherford


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