Affordable Housing for All: Is housing a human right or a privilege?
Our University of the Streets Café public conversations are much like any you’d have with friends or family around a dinner table, except with more people, more points of view, and slightly more structure. Conversations are hosted by a volunteer moderator who is there to welcome everyone and keep things on track. To get things started, there’s a guest, or sometimes two, who get the ball rolling by sharing their ideas, experiences and questions. After that, it's all up to the participants.
Housing, in our social context, is universally recognized as a right - a fundamental necessity for us to experience individual security and growth. Yet, many among us live in conditions that consistently fail to live us to the broad range of public policies that seek to promote the provision of homes for all. Lofty expressed commitments notwithstanding, should we consider safe and affordable housing a privilege that s afforded only to a select few? This public conversation considers how where and how we get to have a home. Faced with undeniable precarity in accessible housing, how can we effectively mobilize to demand action? What are strong and autonomous community-led alternatives that can inspire and be extrapolated into our neighborhoods? How can we bring a commitment to social justice to the realm of urban planning?
Faiz Abhuani has been a community organizer for over 15 years. He has worked on a number of issues around expanding access to healthcare, immigrant rights and popular education. He has contributed to the efforts of a variety of organizations including Project Genesis, Le Frigo Vert, No One Is Illegal, CKUT Community Radio, the Quebec Public Interest Research Group, Moisson Montréal and the McGill University Student’ Union. His objective remains to promote a long term vision for social change and to raise awareness on the importance of building infrastructure for success.
Since 2010, André Trépanier has been responsible for tenant rights advocacy and fighting against poor housing conditions as part of his work with the Comité d'action de Parc-Extension - CAPE. The CAPE is the neighborhood's housing coalition. Parc-Extension is one of the poorest neighborhoods in Canada and is home to newcomers to Canada who come from all over the world. Housing issues are frequently found in Parc-Extension and it is the role of the CAPE to act as a front line actor in promoting safe housing conditions and social housing.
Cheryl Gladu is currently an Interdisciplinary PhD Candidate at Concordia University (Management and Design), and her interests include collaborative design, dialogue, and the creation of communities that encourage long-term sustainable living. Prior to her studies she worked for several years in the trenches of the environmental movement and co-created and managed a small, award-winning green real estate development company.
Tejaswinee Jhunjhunwala is actively involved in Montreal based community projects and organizations. Her studies and work experiences have covered an umbrella of social justice, environmental and economic issues. Having been in India for more than half her life, where for many housing is definitely a privilege, she brings an interesting perspective to this conversation. She also hopes to be part of a cohousing project in the medium-long term.
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