The Surreal Estate

Perspectives on Tenant Organizing from the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board

Tag Archives: free university

Friday News Round-Up!

Needless to say, this has been an eventful week– not only at UHAB, but throughout the country! Here are some of the prominent stories:

  1. Romney eloquently belittled 47% of the country this week! Mother Jones leaked a video that featured Romney claiming that 47% of the country is “dependent on government” and believe that they are “entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.” What Romney fails to realize is that most people don’t want to rely on government, but due to many more complex forms of marginalization and injustice, they need government subsidies to help. He also overlooks the fact that the “47%” do contribute to society– while the contribution is not in the form of income tax, it is in the form of payroll tax.  Interestingly, most of the “47%” folks pay a higher percentage of their income tax than Romney: “Among the American who paid no federal income taxes in 2011, 61 percent paid payroll taxes—which means they have jobs and, when you account for both sides of the payroll tax, they paid 15.3 percent of their income in taxes, which is higher than the 13.9 percent that Romney paid.” Perhaps Romney should do some more research before he makes such accusations next time…
  2. This past week marked the 1 year anniversary of the Occupy movement, started right here on Wall Street.  After some exciting days of protest, folks have organized a Free University! Over 130 workshops have been scheduled between September 18th to the 22nd, ranging from “Take Back the Land” to a “Strike Debt” workshop series to “Occupying Language.”  To us at UHAB, this has been one of Occupy’s greatest strengths: generating conversation about activism and alternative ways of structuring our world.  To participate in the final days of Free University NYC and to learn how to reconnect with that movement that once made you want to quit work and live in the street, check out the schedule of workshops here.
  3. Yesterday, the New York Daily News released a story asserting that New York is a great place to find quality affordable housing. In New York City, many tenants receive Section 8 vouchers which allows tenants to “pay one-third of their income as rent.” The article illustrates the “top 5″ Section 8 apartments in NYC, including spaces in West Harlem, Union Square, and the Bronx, and expresses that there are an additional 93,000 available Section 8 units in the city. However, there is an 124,000 person waiting-list to receive this government subsidy and the government is threatening to cut additional funding to this program. Our hope is that they offer more Section 8 vouchers in homes that look as good as these!

These are just some of the stories of the week! We’ll return next week with more news. Have a great weekend!

Tomorrow: May Day “General Strike”…No work, No School, No Housework, No Shopping, No Banking….

Tomorrow is May Day, marking the the126th anniversary of the Haymarket Riot in Chicago, turning this traditionally Celtic holiday into a lefty labor rights anarchist immigrant rights prison justice anti-corporate Occupy everything holiday.  This year, there is a nationwide call for a General Strike – “A Day without the 99%” – encouraging people not to go to work, to school, to shop, or to buy anything.  Like in 2006, El Dia Sin Inmigrantes, the general strike will demonstrate just how powerful collective organizing can be. We see the power of collective organizing every day.  Tenants join forces through group lawsuits, building-wide petitions, and even by the simple act of coming together and brainstorming solutions to building problems, tenants improve their buildings and establish community. May Day is not only a time to assert people-power, but to assert labor and immigrant rights.  Tenants we work with are almost exclusively low-income immigrants or people of color, and all are effected by the racial implications of policies like “Stop and Frisk,” “Operation Clean Halls” and the would-be “Secure Communities” program.  Tomorrow is a chance to band together across racial and class lines to assert an anti-racist, anti-classist, anti-sexist agenda.  There will be a plethora of free food, music, art supplies, educational teach-ins allowing for us to live one day in without participating in the system (capitalism) which promotes policies that hurt our communities. Check out Occupy Wall Street’s website for a full list of May Day activities and organizational endorsers. A few events we wanted to highlight:
Tenants and Neighbors:

This May Day, the New York City Rent Guidelines Board (RGB) will be voting on a proposed range of rent adjustments for rent stabilized tenants. Every year since it came into existence, the Rent Guidelines Board has voted to raise rents, usually to levels that are unaffordable to many rent stabilized tenants.  This year, join us in expressing our collective frustration with the Rent Guidelines Board and demanding that it be made to be more accountable to the millions of New Yorkers who want the city to remain affordable to low and moderate income people. The meeting is at 5:30 at 7 East 7th Street; we will be rallying outside at 5:00 PM. For more information or to RSVP for the rally, please contact Sam Stein at sstein@tandn.org or 212-608-4320, ext. 316.

Take Back the Land:

The Free University at Madison Square Park is an open invitation to educators around New York to participate in May Day. Lectures, workshops, skill-shares, and discussions will be held — all open to the public. University professors will bring their classes to the commons. Join Robert Robinson,  representatives from Take Back the Land and from Organizing for Occupation for a teach-in and conversation about the current housing crisis and the growing movement of communities taking positive action to collectively secure the human right to housing.

positive action (direct action) to collectively secure the human right to housing

Jews for Racial and Economic Justice:

2pm – JFREJ joins GOLES to support Public Housing residents taking their struggle to the streets! Meet: NE Corner of Houston and Avenue D, New York Sick and tired of being left out of decisions that affect the future of their homes, Lower East Side residents have decided to take to the streets — marching from Houston to 14th street to raise awareness about the New York City Housing Authority’s proposed policy changes that will affect the future of public housing. The LES has always been a safe haven for immigrant and low-income families – public housing is one of the few affordable housing options left. Protect what we have! March with LES public housing residents to Union Square where we’ll join the masses for the Unity Rally.

For the massive solidarity rally, we will be meeting at 4pm in Union Square, and at 5:30 we’ll be marching to Wall St.! We hope to see you there.

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