Friday — 10.24.14 — The Platform of People Affected by Mortgages (P.A.H.) in Spain: a Case Study of Mutual-Aid in Action
0. About Friday
1. More about P.A.H.
2. About the documentary
0. About Friday
What: Screening of documentary film ‘Sí se puede [Yes, we can]. Seven Days with PAH Barcelona.’ and meeting with PAH members
When: Friday, October 24th, 6:00 p.m.
Where: 16 Beaver Street, NY, NY
Who: Free and Open to all
Please join us on Friday, October 24th at 6pm for a screening of a documentary film and a conversation with members of PAH.
This meeting will help us know more about the Spanish Platform of People Affected by Mortgages (P.A.H.), and think about the possibilities of similar initiatives in New York City.
PAH is a mutual-aid oriented, autonomous, and horizontal initiative that has around 200 nodes in the Spanish state. Since its creation in 2009, it has stopped 1135 evictions and it has recovered 27 empty buildings, in which 1180 persons have been resettled. In the context of the current crisis of legitimacy of all institutions of power in Spain, PAH has the support of a wide majority of the people, and it has become a model for other political projects.
The exceptional ‘empowerment’ that the PAH inspires can be attributed, among other things, to its determined rejection of a ‘service’ model through which the problem of mortgages would be confronted with the aid of a series of legal experts, mediators, or activists offered to an undifferentiated contingent of so-called ‘victims’ whose abilities and ways of knowing would not be relevant. On the contrary, the key to the PAH’s success – as noted by those who began it and maintain it day to day – is that everyone affected participates in all the processes of the struggle for all the cases, with everyone contributing his or her own kinds of knowledge and abilities, and becoming advisers for other affected people.
We hope in discussing and viewing PAH’s methodology, and by inviting local housing groups, to draw from PAH’s example and inspire concrete initiatives in NYC — for direct-action, coalition building, and creative resistance. Continuing work initiated this summer, we would like this evening to issue a broad call for invited groups to meet and discuss ways that the struggles to common the city can be extended — keeping in mind both the parallels and differences of local conditions with the Spanish example.
1. More about PAH
Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca (PAH)/ Platform People Affected by Mortgages
The PAH was born in February 2009 in Barcelona as a citizen’s movement focused on the right to housing. The main aim of the PAH is to denounce the dramatic situation suffered by thousands of families who are unable to pay their mortgages, facing foreclosure processes and evictions. The PAH makes visible the violence of such processes, informs public opinion of the horror that is the perpetual debt that remains after losing your home according to the Spanish Mortgage’s Law, and demands political solutions to Public Administrations. The PAH is a political (but non party-oriented) movement in which people directly affected and supporters fight together against this problem. We take actions in many different fields (political, trials, communicative, emotional, etc.) to create empowerment and promote legal changes that respond to those who are directly affected, and in a broader framework, propose solutions to fulfill the right to housing for all the citizenship. The 3 basic and emergency demands of the PAH are:
1- Cancelling mortgage debt upon handover of the property to the bank;
2- The immediate prevention of evictions;
3- Transformation of the homes in the hands of financial institutions into ‘social rents’.
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 that sector above all else.
Examples of actions carried out:
In the Stop Evictions campaign we use institutional mechanisms to delay the eviction and put pressure on the bank using media and social networks. If none of this works, we resist evictions by making a public call to turn up on the day to block the legal authority and police.
Obra Social campaign denounces that while in Spain banks are starting foreclosure processes and accumulating empty houses, thousands of evicted people have no place to go and the Government refuses to give real solutions. The PAH recovers these buildings as social housing for these families.
With a People’s Legislative Initiative campaign we needed 500.000 signatures to propose a legislative change. We collected almost 1.5 million but the Government refused to discuss the proposal.
After, we started the Escrache campaign to persuade those politicians that had expressed their opposition. Diverse non-violent actions in the particular houses of these politicians were organized in which people explained their situation and asked them to vote “yes”.
Nowadays, in October 2014, there are around 200 active nodes of the Platform in Spain. Every week, several hundred people attend the various PAH meetings. We are continuously carrying out not only local and regional actions but, often, we also organize massive coordinated actions at a national level.
Since 2007, more than 550.000 foreclosures have been initiated. The most recent statistics indicate that there were 115 evictions per day in 2012. Nowadays, with an unemployment rate exceeding 25% and nearly 6 million people unemployed it is easy to imagine the magnitude of the mortgage tragedy in Spain. However, even the origin of the PAH is apparently only connected with the housing rights of mortgage holders — the PAH, along with many of other initiatives that emerged sharply on May 15-2011, has served to position very clearly in the centre of political discussion the responsibility of public authorities and financial system for this in the current economic crisis. The PAH is a very diverse movement, where there are people with different sensibilities. But the PAH belongs to the 99% that has been ripped off and that is why we are collaborating with other groups to understand, discuss and share fights related with health, education, transparency, democracy, debt, etc.
2. About the documentary ‘Sí se puede [Yes, we can]. Seven days with PAH Barcelona’
From the authoring collective, ‘Comando Video’ (Silvia González-Laá, Pau Faus y Xavi Andreu):
»Sí se puede. Seven days with PAH Barcelona‘ is a daily account of the Platform of People Affected by Mortgage Barcelona in what could be a week of its tireless activity. Departing from the concrete and the everyday, the documentary tries to explain the complexity and diversity of a movement that has spread throughout the state and has been a real challenge for civil society to government policies and financial institutions after the economic and human disaster which marked the bursting of the housing bubble.
Seven interviews (combined with images collected for more than one year) lead the viewer through the different activities performed weekly in PAH Barcelona, illustrated with case studies and anecdotes of everyday life. From the Welcome Assemblies, Coordination and State-wide PAH to the Mutual Aid Group, the ‘Obra Social’ Campaign or Advocacy and Action in the Banks, this documentary has put cameras in the heart of the organization to visualize, in addition to the drama, the huge invisible work behind the PAH and the process of transformation and empowerment of people who compose it.’
What is ‘Comando Video’?
‘Comando Video‘ was born in early 2013 almost impromptu. We were three people who had come to the PAH with different backgrounds and interests but with one thing in common: we worked in audio-visual production and wanted to put our experience in service of the fight against evictions.
Together we have made more than 40 videos for PAH, both « guerrilla » (document actions, escraches [home and workplace interventions], evictions, press conferences or demonstrations) and « campaign ». With this documentary we collect and share some of our experiences, to bring to the public a view of the movement hardly found in the media: from the inside out.
3. Links of interest:
Mortgaged Lives, book by PAH members Ada Colau and Adrià Alemany (English Translation by Michelle Teran):
A note in Spanish about audio-visual representations of the fight against evictions:
An interview with PAH member Lucía Delgado
The web page of PAH’s international committee
Groups Invited and Participating:
Community Action for Save Appartments (CASA)
Crown Heights Tenant Union (CHTU)
Queens Neighborhoods United
No Rockaway Pipeline
Brooklyn Solidarity Network
Reclaim Bushwick (Colonie 1209)
CAAAV – Organizing Asian Communities
Picture the Homeless
Occupy Sunset Park
New York City Community Garden Coalition
Right of Way
WE ACT for Environmental Justice
New York Year Zero
and the New York City Anti Eviction Network
16 Beaver Group
16 Beaver Street, 4th fl.
New York, NY 10004
for directions/subscriptions/info visit:
4,5 — Bowling Green
2,3 — Wall Street
J,Z — Broad Street
R — Whitehall
1 — South Ferry