Attending the first Virtual Assembly of Inhabitants, 31 July 2020
The first Virtual Assembly of Inhabitants was organized by the International Alliance of Inhabitants, a global network of organizations and individuals advocating for housing and urban rights. While the event covered issues from all over the world regarding health, civil rights, violence against vulnerable groups, and other general human rights crises, the central theme was their mission of “Zero Evictions for Coronavirus”. This follows their Zero Evictions Campaign which started in March after it became apparent that COVID-19 was already leading to massive, devastating housing outcomes. Globally, people from all walks of life face evictions from their homes due to the economic recession. While some communities and governments have relaxed payment rules for tenants, those ones are the exception. Over that past few months, it has become very apparent that this is a growing and menacing issue that may potentially have disastrous generational effects.
In the Virtual Assembly, a diverse group of speakers and activists from 48 different countries gave passionate speeches, calls for solidarity, and plans for global mobilization to prioritize basic human rights during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nonprofits and grassroots organizations in Europe, Africa, Asia, North America and Latin America represent people and communities that face deadly threats to their health and well-being. The main takeaway from the conference was the concern of over 1.8 billion people all over the world that either already faced, or as a result of the pandemic, face abhorrent and dilapidated housing conditions. Access to clean water and food was already scarce for impoverished communities and displaced persons. With the instability, and not to mention life threatening forces from the pandemic, the inordinate amount of added stress is weighing down on millions of individuals. The human suffering that comes from losing one’s home is unacceptable.
This is why the Zero Evictions Campaign is so important and ready to be mobilized. It is possible, for example, to give tenants compassion during this unprecedented time. It is also possible to direct money into relief for people who do not have anything. Losing one’s source of income during a pandemic is out of one’s control. It should be the priority to focus on these individuals, many of whom are already in vulnerable populations. With many communities and governments either lacking the funds or simply not paying heed to their houseless citizens, solid plans that lead to real policy reform are difficult to organize. Because of the strength of grassroots organizations and communities all over the globe however, there is comfort in the unity and solidarity. The Virtual World Assembly of Inhabitants confirmed that many organizations are indeed pushing policymakers for relief in housing rights, and it is a continuous battle.
The Amman Center for Human Rights Studies stands with the International Alliance of Inhabitants and calls for Zero Evictions during Coronavirus. More can be read about their mission here.