The Mortgage Holders Platform: Resisting the Financialization of Housing

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The Provisional University, an activist research and autonomous education project based in Dublin is posting a series of articles on the Mortgage Holders Platform (Platforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca, or PAH), a Spanish movement of people in danger of being evicted because they cannot pay their mortgages.  The movement has emerged in response to the repossession of the homes of those who cannot afford to pay their mortgages.  The same banks that have been wholeheartedly supported with public money are kicking people out of their homes and leaving them to pay for the consequences of reckless bank lending.

The PAH has grown from a small campaign to a national movement and has been one of the most active and succesful forms of action in the context of the 15-M movement. They have undertaken a number of actions to fight for the right to housing, including direct action to resist evictions, campaigning for legislation to stop evictions and occupying housing under the control of banks.

The financialization of housing has meant that what should be a social right has become an enormously profitable business for the banking sector, allowing financial institutions to capture huge quantities of socially produced wealth. López and Rodríguez argue that this process of financialization should be conceptualized in terms of a “spatial and temporal extension of the dynamics of exploitation”. But against this process of ‘enclosure’, the PAH are fighting for a different way of accessing and organizing property. Most concretely, by occupying housing held by banks the PAH are creating what can be understood as a form of ‘commons’, a way of accessing and managing urban resources in a manner which is different from, and against, the current model of financial capitalism.

In the first post, published on the 2nd of August, we look at the political economic context of the struggle around housing, focusing on the Spanish property bubble and its crash from 2006.

In the second post, published today, the 31st of August, we look at the social movement background to the PAH, in particular the developments in the ‘okupa’ and social centre movements. In tomorrow’s post we will examine the initial challenges faced by the PAH as well as their campaign around ‘dación en pago’.

We think that it is particularly important to learn from the PAH in the Irish context, given our own mortgage crisis.

The provisional university would like to thank the Institute for Anarchist Studies who provided a grant for the research presented here.

Provisional Univerity

 

2 Responses

  1. tinder

    September 8, 2012 8:25 pm

    mid-aged; and in ‘private rented’. So, this is a subject that causes me untold angst. btw – this ‘private rented’ should be called ‘investor housing’ i.e. that there are three kinds of housing: public (loc. auth); private; and investor housing.
    “spatial and temporal extension of the dynamics of exploitation” – sounds good to me; spot on. They are approaching this subject from the highest macro level; a perfect counter-point of the banks’ own stellar approach to human populations.
    ‘Exploitation’; yes; it is; most definitely.
    Housing, imo, is, beyond the shadow of any doubt; a ‘natural’ necessity; this, I would most definitely put before ‘social’ necessity, (as I consider that ‘social’ brings in the concept of ultimate economic profit). Banks understand perfectly that housing is the ‘prime’ life-buy of people; that simple fact itself, speaks volumes of proof that it is the ‘prime’ ‘natural’ necessity of human beings.

    This ‘investor (private rented)’ is dreadful and no matter what anyone might say, it is a modern form of bondage and even may transform over years, to homage i.e. that the ‘investor’ is the person that statutory bodies take note of; definitely not the tenant.

    The Irish banks seem in a conundrum at present of who to lend to; and are no lending to people working on ‘contract’; but how, beyond this one concept, can any predict that persons will not be: sick, fired, the firm closes down, etc. etc.
    Also, as I understand it, when the above may happen to people there, the banks take the property, sell it; but at least the initial owners are not pursued for any negative equity.

  2. tinder

    September 8, 2012 9:29 pm

    whoops – that last para. is: ‘Also, in the United States, …… the initial owners are not pursued for any negative equity’.

    btw, a very useful site: http://www.FDIC.gov – the federal U.S. insurance corp., usually gives a good overview of the health of their banks.