Who is the PAH?
The PAH is a citizen’s movement focused on the right to housing. It was created in February 2009 in Barcelona. The main aim of the PAH is to denounce the dramatic situation faced by thousands of families who are unable to pay their mortgages and are facing foreclosure and evictions as a result of the financial fraud of 2008. We seek to make housing fair and accessible to all.
What we do
The PAH demands political solutions from government and public administrations, but since they have been excessively slow or unable/unwilling to provide them, we have taken action in order to safeguard our rights. The PAH is a political movement (but not linked to a political party) in which people directly affected by the mortgage crisis and those indirectly affected by it, fight together against this problem. We take actions in many different fields (political, legal, communicative, emotional, etc.) in order to empower people and promote legal changes. We also propose solutions in order to enact our right to housing. We have three basic and non-negotiable demands:
1) Cancellation of mortgage debt upon handover of the property to the bank;
2) Immediate stop of all evictions where it is the family home and sole property;
3) Transform empty houses held by financial institutions into social housing.
Given the centrality of mortgage debt to the expansion of financial capitalism in Spain, the PAH has come into direct conflict with the banking sector as well as the government which prioritizes the financial industry above all else.
The Stop Evictions campaign is a strategy to prevent families from being evicted from the only place they have to live, their homes. Before the eviction day, we use all institutional mechanisms available to delay the eviction and put pressure on the bank. These include talks and negotiations with the bank, collective actions against financial institutions, outreach to public administration offices that can mediate and provide social housing in the event of an eviction, campaigns and calls to action through social networks and mass media support to increase visibility of our actions and petitions. If none of this works, then we resist the eviction by physically blocking the building or door of the property of the family in question. We make a public callout to anyone able to come to block the legal authorities and the police from effectively carrying out the eviction.
Obra Social campaign is the freeing up of empty houses held by financial institutions in order to relocate families that have been evicted or have lost their home to the bank and have nowhere to go. The campaign denounces that while in Spain banks are starting foreclosure processes and accumulating empty houses, thousands of evicted people have no place to go while the Government refuses to give real solutions. Thus far, fourteen building have been recuperated by the PAH and 712 people have found housing through these actions.
The People’s Legislative Initiative (ILP) campaign was a legislative proposal advanced by the PAH with the collaboration of various social movements and other organizations in order to change Spain’s foreclosure law. Even though an ILP in Spain needs only 500.000 signatures in order to be put before parliament, the PAH collected almost 1.5 million signatures. Sadly, the Spanish Government did not give it enough importance and refused to discuss the proposal. This gave way to the Escrache campaign in order to put pressure on Government.
The Escrache campaign is meant to persuade politicians and other people in positions of power to take into account the public’s petitions. By publically rebuking them at their work place or their homes, the PAH tries to communicate a message from thousands of people suffering from the decisions (or lack of) that they take with regards to housing. Diverse non-violent actions are carried out, like showing signs, chanting, or giving out speeches of people explaining their situation to politicians and asking them to vote favourably for the ILP. Regardless of all this campaigning government did not vote in favour of the ILP, but this is not the end; we will continue fighting for the right to housing and to change Spain’s mortgage law.
The PAH International Committee of the PAH is the working commission seeking to engage with pro-housing affinity groups, collectives and organizations across Europe and beyond. Well aware that predatory and fraudulent activities in the financial and mortgage industries are not exclusive to Spain but ongoing across the globe, we hope to continue to contribute to a growing coalition of grassroots activists and organizations fighting for the right to fair housing. This committee emerged as a response to increasing interest in the work the PAH has been carrying out for the past five years in Spain. Please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org