What is the ‘Housing Office’?

The project ‘The        Housing   office’ in Madrid began as a response to the         problems  people were having with  housing       and   the intolerable situation which hundreds, thousands  if not       millions of   people are suffering at this very     moment:      those who have been thrown out of their homes yet still     have to  carry    on  with mortgage payments.; many people who have  to    give the  best  part   of  their salary to pay a rent or an   outrageous   mortgage;  the   homeless;   people who have never been   eligible for a   home;  tenants who   are  harassed  by owners who do   not want to   recognise  their   longstanding  rights for a  low rent 
Housing   problems, the reasons:
The reasons are multiple       but   can nevertheless be summarized in one word: speculation.      Through    speculation, 1% of the population is able to control     society   (commonly   known as THOSE UP TOP), and accumulate enormous     amounts of   wealth. This   is done by increasing house prices, high     interest  loans,  continuous   evictions, and longlasting debt.
These       fortunes administer  banks and construction companies and it is    these    same fortunes that  finance and guide the coalition PPSOE (PP    right   wing  party + PSOE  socialist party) who provide tailor made    laws to    guarantee investments  while convincing the population that    only    property can give you rights.   This extends the belief in   those  below    (we the people), that you only  have rights if you own    property. So,    when the housing bubble burst,  PPSOE “covered  holes”   by handing over   to  the speculators, mainly the  banks, the  necessary   funds to carry  on   with business as usual (funds  coming  from cuts  in  social  expenditure,   as we see on a daily basis).
The     Housing office is   created to give answers to and to help those     suffering the  consecuences   of this fraud and to serve as a support     while people  learn to use their  individual rights. It is also a  tool    which can be  used in the quest for  a transformation of  those    outrageous laws which  support this social  tragedy. 
Down  to basics: (Take and do rather than ask and wait) 
The  urgency of the situation has forced the Housing Office to decide not to  wait for    those  who caused the problem to solve it. We have therefore  started   to  work,  adopting three lines of action all of which attempt to    unite  those who  wish to exercise their right to decent housing. 
Counselling body: From     here information is given on the possibilities and consecuences of     taking over abandoned buildings, promoting cooperation in this type  of    action and a collective defense of the recovered buildings. At  the  same   time, the counselling body will encourage the study of the   housing   problem and help with the formation of collectives,   underlining their   responsibilities and the different solutions. 
Solutions for temporary shelter: As a result of all the above mentioned and the seriousness of the situation, the project contemplates the establishment  of designated areas for temporary shelter for those in   need.
Helping to expand: To    support those who are cooperating in local neighbourhoods in rehousing    projects by using uninhabited buildings/houses in the hands of banks   and  agencies. 
Social transformation:    (As long as there are unjust laws  we will have to fight against them  in  order to change them) -
The  provision of a public ‘houses to rent’ scheme made up of all those  houses which have been abandoned  by speculators. Given that the banks  and housing agencies have an abundance of abandoned homes in their  possession, it is necessary to apply the measures already approved in  other European countries to ensure the availability of these buildings  for rent at a price not superior to 30% of a person’s income. 
Backdated  dation in payment  and immediate halt in foreclosures of those families  with no financial  resources or at risk of social exclusion, having no  alternative shelter:  It is inconceivable that this mortgage fraud could  end up dragging  millions of families in this country into social  marginalization. Laws  and tribunals avoid placing any blame on banks  for their responsability  in the loans given out or for the inflated  price of houses which  increased their profits. Furthermore, after the  crisis, banks have  bought homes at half the price they fixed  themselves, putting people who  only wanted a home out on the street  with unpayable debt . We demand  that the handing over of the house  should settle the debt and that the  victims should not pay for the  culprits. At the same time, foreclosures  should be stopped for those  people with no alternatives, as would
 be  the case of first time  home buyers since it is understood that a house  as a basic right takes  priority over the private property of a bank.
Penalization   of  speculation, decriminalization of occupation: It is inadmissible   that in  a time when corruption is rife, when the social model leaves   millions  of homes empty and millions of people in the street, that the   political  model permits the  limitation of power to prosecute the big   guys (those  UP TOP), while it is a criminal offence  to occupy an   abandoned house.   15 years ago, when speculation in the housing market   rocketed, a new  reform was introduced (1995) making it illegal to   occupy an abandoned  house.  If laws were meant to be an obstacle to   greed, this is yet  further proof that those at the top are able to   change them to suit  themselves as they are the ones who profit from   speculation. We  therefore also demand the elimination of the offence  of  appropriation of  abandoned property from the Criminal Code whether  it  be for housing or  social purposes and the establishment and  fulfillment  of strong legal  punishment for those who are found guilty  of  corruption and speculation  leaving houses without people and  people  without houses.

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