HOUSING + LAND RIGHTS
“For when a people no longer have the space to construct homeplace, we cannot build a meaningful community of resistance”
(bell hooks, 1991)
Homelessness has different faces and different causes. Two ways of preventing homelessness are through resisting illegal evictions or displacement through urban renewal or gentrification processes, through litigation and other forms of legal action; and through community education that helps communities to know and understand their basic housing and land rights.
Housing and land rights
Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) is an independent human rights NGO, using the law as a positive instrument for making change in the public interest.
LHRs land and housing programme intersects closely with their strategic litigation programme as well as their programme focusing on refugee and migrant rights.
In the City of Tshwane they have been closely involved in fighting illegal evictions, and protecting the housing and land rights of particularly vulnerable populations.
Residents of sites such as Schubart Park and Kruger Park, Woodlane Village, and the Salvokop precinct, have long relied on the litigation and legal interventions of LHR to protect their secure tenure.
LHR is supporting reclaimers (self-employed individuals earning their living through recycling waste material), both in their right to conduct business but also in protecting their right of living in spaces accessible to their work opportunities.
It also supports refugee and migrant communities, both through protecting their housing rights but also through mediating their access to housing.
The Tshwane Urban Activist School
The Tshwane Urban Activist School is a community of practice where community leaders and activists from contested urban sites in the City of Tshwane, educate themselves on land and housing rights through popular education models.
Connected to real-life struggles of people in local communities across the City of Tshwane, the Activist School seeks to empower communities to resist displacement, and to imagine and organize for their right to the city, in the most optimal ways.
The Urban Studio is both a concept and a physical reality.
The Urban Studio uses the city – different spaces and themes – as a classroom for action, reflection, dialogue, and research.
It bridges the gap between theory and practice; research and action; advocacy and policy.
It seeks to support local communities through research, documentation of unfolding narratives, and the shaping of alternative narratives.
It includes practitioners, NGOs, FBOs, CBOs, local homeless forums, activists, academics, and most importantly current and former homeless individuals. It also partners with various government institutions and departments.
Established in 2017, the network seeks collectively across South Africa to help prevent homelessness, to improve the conditions of people who are homeless, and to find pathways out of homelessness.
Other House and Land Rights Sources
In 2017, the City of Tshwane became one of the first cohort of Vanguard Cities, committed to reduce street homelessness among a specific vulnerable population. In the City of Tshwane, the objective was to reduce the number of older homeless persons with 50% by the year 2020.