Introduction to the Housing Curriculum
(Full print version)
The purpose of this curriculum is to introduce the idea of Housing as a Human Right in the current market based system. It may be difficult to connect homeowners with renters and homeless and even more difficult to relate housing with other fundamental rights and needs, such as the right to healthcare. But United Workers is founded on the belief that all of our rights are connected; all life is sacred, and respect for human rights includes the rights to healthcare, housing, work with dignity, and a non-toxic living environment. By understand the big picture and working together, we can win our various human rights.
The articles, powerpoints, studies, and reports in this unit comprise a guide for committee facilitators. The materials can be modified and used as needed, depending on the circumstances and the current work or conditions that each committee is confronting.
The initial idea of taking on housing as one of the many issues that we confront is to see it as a manifestation of the biggest problem – poverty — caused by the inequality that we confront in society. It is important to remember that United Workers unites in differences and does not divide on similarities; therefore the goal of these discussions is to unite. Particularly with housing, we understand the difficulty of achieving unity between the “ones who have” (homeowners), the “ones who can afford” (renters), and the “ones who have not” (homeless).
We challenge the American ideology of private property and believe that the notion of the American Dream — that one can achieve everything if one works hard — has too much fine print to be viable.
The main objectives for this unit are to understand
- The history of housing, especially in Baltimore City, and its connection it with our own experience
- How housing became a commodity
- Why housing is not considered a human right in the current system
- The connection between housing and healthcare and other human rights
- The relationship between housing issues and the economic crisis
- What has been done to combat housing problems.
While economic indicators say we are out of the economic crisis and that the housing problem is finally decreasing, the stories that we hear from others indicate otherwise. There is a lot of data to prove our point, but our personal experiences bring these numbers to life and serve as a learning opportunity and a key piece of our leadership development processes.
Dialog is the main methodology of this unit. Through this discussion-based approach, combining personal stories with hard data, the voices and experiences of the participants themselves are placed at the center of the political and economic reality that we are confronting. This is the basis on which we unite, organize and develop leadership.
There are several interconnected components to this curriculum. There are some studies illustrating the extent of our inequality and articles showing that we can change what is politically possible. There are also many pieces that are helpful for building a new vision and developing the strategy to get there.