Tenants Organizing as Corporations Gobble Up Housing Around the World

By Michael Kane

AIMCO, the landlord of Lincoln Place, owns or manages more than 115,000 units of the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) housing (about 7% of the entire HUD housing stock), our local affiliates have encountered them for years.

In 1999-2000 we organized a national campaign, coordinated press events in several cities, and a national demonstration at their DC office during our annual conference in 1999.
We collaborated on a Sacramento Bee series exposing AIMCO.

For a brief period (2003-2004), the then VP for HUD housing, Chuck Turner, actually approached us and met with our national Board in two meetings and several conference calls (with our organizing network also) to discuss common ground (this was a period when they were trying to dump some properties to non-profit purchasers to consolidate their portfolio), but this dialogue ended when Turner left AIMCO about 18 months ago. We got a few improvements at the building level in Kansas City, New York, etc., but not much else.

In particular, the stunning revelation about the Deutsche Bank role in AIMCO opens up a whole vista of potential connections and strategies, linking with a housing network in Germany, who are focusing on the role of Anglo-American investment groups buying up the social housing stock in Germany and converting to condominia. There are many groups in the US who are working against AIMCO, this is a major opportunity for collaboration.

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The National Alliance of HUD Tenants (NAHT) has joined the Habitat International Coalition (HIC), a global housing rights network headquartered in Chile, we’re the North American board rep. HIC has picked up our suggestion for coordinated International Housing Rights Days of Action each October in different countries and cities, timed with the UN’s World Habitat Day. HIC has also agreed to sponsor a Working Group on the Privatization and Globalization of Habitat, which I and others coordinate.

One current project is to raise the themes of housing rights and anti-privatization through a demonstration and march and other activities at the UN’s World Urban Forum in Vancouver, June 19-23.

Michael Kane works at the National Alliance of HUD Tenants in Boston.

Posted: Sat - April 1, 2006 at 06:11 PM