” . . .Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth” was the way U.S. President Abraham Lincoln honoured Civil War deaths in his Gettysburg Address. You can count on a political speech to capture both the spirit and the meaning of a nation’s promise, even when the execution of that promise can trend in the opposite direction.
And so we have the noble objective of a ‘human right to adequate housing’ fall from the lips of many a politician, as if they will be the ones to carry the torch for such a modest national objective that might reasonably be pursued above all others.
And where stand those who control government in the current world-wide housing wars between shelter on one hand, and profit on the other?
For decades now, governments have sublet a significant portion of America’s housing objectives to homeowners and landlords, both individual and corporate. Needless to say, they pursue their own interests. At the same time, government has sublet its responsibilities towards renters to the landlord class, together with the industries that support them. If government is encouraged to get involved, it seems to invariably favour laws, bylaws, regulations, etc. that serve the purposes of a landlord class and their increasing holdings, as housing prices elevate into the stratosphere.
Who can act ‘for the people’ if they are increasingly homeless, or able to afford only rental housing? The government which, according to Lincoln — will not perish from this earth? It is still alive, still all-powerful, but when it comes to rental housing and its tenants, so profoundly absent on parade.
Currently, there is a small activist class, working with limited resources, who are prepared to stand up against the landlords
Here’s an article on American activist challenges and actions in the struggle to provide adequate housing for all Americans, not just homeowners and landlords. Read more in WAGING NONVIOLENCE: How activists are making the right to housing a reality