Friday, August 2, 2013

The Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca (PAH)

The PAH has been one of the strongest social movements in Spain since 2011, fighting for fair access to housing and social rents through a politics of networked mutual aid and campaigning. 

This entry focuses on the specific campaigns and organizational ways in which the PAH works, and briefly outlines the complex entwinings of different levels of crisis (housing, financial, sovereign debt, ...) in Spain as well as the legal situation surrounding mortgages (which involves host of old and new laws and many ongoing levels of contestation and reform). For now a summary description of the PAH from 15MPedia:

The Platform of People affected by mortgages / the subprime mortgage crisis, or PAH, is a social movement and platform struggling for decent housing, which emerged in Barcelona in February 2009 and now extends across the Spanish territory. It surged in response to the real estate crisis of 2008 that triggered the bursting of the Spanish housing bubble and became a strong part of the movements that later emerged in response to the sovereign debt crisis and austerity politics. It's part of the 15M movement, which kicked off in 2011.
The PAH brings together people who find it difficult to pay back their mortgages or find themselves in a process of eviction due to unpaid mortgages, and people in solidarity with this problem. It defines itself as 'a group of people who, unaffiliated with any party, recognizes that […] the current legal framework is designed to guarantee that banks cash in on debt, while at the same time the law gives no protection to the people with mortgages who are unable to cover their payments due to reasons such as unemployment or rising fees/interests'. It's a horizontal, non-violent and assembly-based movement unaffiliated with political parties.The PAH meets in assemblies that go through the different cases of people affected by the mortgage crisis and laws, to offer advice and mutual aid in order to give both practical and emotional support.In January 2013, the PAH was awarded the national prize for human rights. [i]

We are very interested in the organizational and everyday dimensions of the PAH, not just because struggling around housing is to struggle around a key dimension of social reproduction, but also because this is a movement that brings together collective care and popular support in a political practice that is both situated and widely networked.