ForewordHabitat International Coalition




Chapter 1
Canada: Hallmark Events, Evictions, and Housing Rights


Kris Olds

Chapter 2
Chile: The Eviction of Low-income Residents from Central Santiago de Chile


Alfredo Rodriguez and Ana Maria Icaza

Chapter 3
The Dominican Republic: Urban Renewal and Evictions in Santo Domingo


Edmundo Morel and Manuel Mejia

Chapter 4
South Africa: The Struggle for Access to the City in the Witwatersrand Region


Lauren Royston

Chapter 5
South Korea: Experiences of Eviction in Seoul


Hyung-Hook Kim

Chapter 6
Overview: The Evolution of Housing Rights and Their Social Context


Antonio Azuela and Emilio Duhau

Appendix 1
Acronyms and Abbreviations




This page intentionally left blank


The studies included in this volume are intimately related to the central objective of Habitat International Coalition (HIC): to institutionalize and effectively implement the right to housing. The studies opportunely fill an important gap in the systematic and comparative study of issues of concern to the Coalition in its efforts to fight the practice of violent evictions, which remains a still widely practiced violation of this right.

On the one hand, the context for the results of these studies is the recent conclusion of the second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements, Habitat II, which confirmed the commitment of the participating governments to guarantee the right to housing as a human right and more specifically to provide “effective protection from forced evictions that are contrary to the law, taking human rights into consideration” (United Nations 1996). It is indispensable to also point out the adoption by the United Nations Human Rights Commission of the extremely relevant resolution 1993/77, which defines forced evictions as a “gross violation of human rights.”

On the other hand, these significant achievements at the international level do not automatically translate into adequate national legal systems and government practices. On the contrary, in many cases a long and difficult process of struggle and social mobilization is required at both the national and international levels to institutionalize the positive rights and guarantees called for by such international agreements. To this end, HIC has for the past several years undertaken an intense program of analysis and denouncement of a large number of forced evictions. Also, HIC has on various occasions intervened before national governments, and in virtually all the relevant international forums, HIC has promoted the explicit recognition of the right to housing as a basic human right and the qualification of forced evictions as a flagrant violation of this right.

Unfortunately, forced evictions still occur in many countries, precisely because the required rights and guarantees are in many cases not yet adequately reflected in the law and otherwise institutionalized at the national level. These evictions occur within very diverse contexts, at varying scales, and for multiple explicit and hidden motives. They are insufficiently understood in terms of their causes, types, conditions, and social effects. Also, the most effective forms of social action are relatively little known or understood, both to prevent or stop evictions and to struggle to institutionalize norms and procedures to progressively and definitively eliminate evictions, as part of the recognition and assertion of the right to housing.

It was for all these reasons that HIC, with the invaluable support of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), promoted the formation of the International Evictions Research Network, established in February 1990, at a seminar held in Tepoztlan, Mexico. In 1991, as a result of that seminar, the network solicited and received from IDRC financial support to carry out the research presented in this book. First drafts of the case studies were discussed at a seminar in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, in September 1992; the final drafts of the studies were completed in 1993. In late 1994, the studies were compiled and edited and the final general conclusions were elaborated.

Although we cannot pretend that these studies are entirely representative of the world situation with respect to evictions, they do present a sufficiently diverse spectrum of national and local situations to provide enormously rich comparative material. The first of the five case study covers the processes of expulsion of poor residents from the Canadian cities of Vancouver, Calgary, and Toronto in conjunction with the celebration of hallmark events. The second investigates the eviction of poor inhabitants from the downtown area of Santiago de Chile during the period of 1981—90, within the context of the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. The third describes evictions in the city of Santo Domingo that took place within the framework of a policy of urban “beautification” undertaken by the authoritarian regime of President Balaguer to prepare for ceremonies to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Columbus in America. The fourth study focuses on the region of Witwaterstrand in South Africa in the years of apartheid and encompasses four experiences. The last study focuses on the evictions resulting from the “urban-renovation” policies in Seoul, South Korea, with observations of a case that acquired at the time a paradigmatic significance (the settlement of Sang Kye Dong).

The results of the studies may help researchers to systematically explore the ways in which the context and the whole of the factors related to the housing status of the affected populations interact when evictions occur. The concluding chapter describes how the characteristics of diverse political regimes and people’s diverse levels of respect for the legal state combine with inadequate access to housing and the unstable housing status of population groups to set the stage for evictions. Although the cases studied in this volume are very diverse in the levels of violence, motives, and scope and relevance within the national contexts, they all demonstrate that the way eviction scenarios develop and unfold is closely related to the evolution of the affected populations’ forms of resistance and organization.

The five research teams followed the same analytical scheme in the development of their studies, which allowed us to carry out a comparative analysis and derive solid overall conclusions. In the end, the conclusions support the principles that motivate HIC to support the struggle of social organizations in their countries in defence of the right to housing and of all basic human rights.

As readers will be able to appreciate, the material included in this book provides a number of elements of enormous analytical value in relation to evictions. Even more useful than the lessons it gives will be the important reference source this work provides on issues in the struggle to institutionalize and effectively vindicate the right to housing and hence to progressively eliminate evictions.

It is worth noting that very favourable advances have occurred in several of the cases in the years since these studies were carried out. In the Dominican Republic, some of the most notorious eviction decrees were canceled, and the new national government began calling on the social movement and its partner nongovernmental organizations, the Committee for the Defence of Barrio Rights (Comité para la Defensa de los Derechos Barriales) and the Alternative City Project (Ciudad Alternativa), to participate in dialogue to draft new housing policies with emphasis on neighbourhood improvement. In South Africa, the new political context has opened fresh hopes for community participation in the resolution of that country’s severe housing problems.

Habitat International Coalition
September 1996

This page intentionally left blank


Habitat International Coalition (HIC) would like to warmly thank the many people who contributed directly or indirectly to this research. First of all, we want to thank all of those at the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) who supported this project through the past years, including Patricia L. McCarney, who is no longer with IDRC but is responsible for having initiated the collaboration between HIC and IDRC on the theme, and everyone at the IDRC offices in Ottawa who contributed to making this book possible. Most special mention is due to Denise Deby for all of her efforts to guide the development of the manuscript toward publication and for continuing to work with us to further advance our research activities.

Although it is impossible to mention all their names, the dozens of people who formed part of each of the research teams that carried out and prepared the case studies deserve special recognition. Many of these people were the authors of the case studies; the work of countless others at the local and national levels must unfortunately remain anonymous, but no less valuable.

HIC would also like to express its deep gratitude to the academic advisors on this project, Antonio Azuela and Emilio Duhau, who, in addition to guiding the research process, drafted the concluding chapter. We also thank Miloon Kothari and Scott Leckie of the HIC-affiliated Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions for their role as commentators on the studies at the workshop in Santo Domingo. Thanks also go to all those at the HIC Secretariat who managed the intercontinental coordination of this project.

Finally, we must express our most sincere gratitude to the social movements and the nongovernmental organizations whose struggles are the focus of these studies. Their collaboration in sharing information and experiences provided the content for the case studies. But most important, their years of painful sacrifice and struggle, the obstacles and setbacks they suffered on the way, and the creative and courageous ways they found to continuously develop, adapt, and advance their cause provide lessons for us all.

This page intentionally left blank

Chapter 1

Kris Olds2

Department of Geography, National University of Singapore, Singapore


This chapter examines hallmark events, community action, and housing rights related to evictions in three Canadian cases: Expo ‘86 in Vancouver, the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics, and the rejected proposal for the 1996 Summer Olympics in Toronto. Although the study focuses on housing issues, it sets the stage for discussion of housing impacts in a broader economic, cultural, and political context. However, because of space limitations, it was impossible to address many important issues related to these events, their impacts, and community action.

Research questions

The objectives of this project were to gain further knowledge of peoples’ struggles for the right to housing and to identify the obstacles to linking the right to housing to a more comprehensive right — the right to the city. A variety of research questions were developed. These fell under four broad categories:

Actors and motives— Who were the actors in the eviction issue? What were the interests and motivations of the various actors in the eviction process? How did the various actors relate to each other? What actions

1A version of this chapter has been published in Current Issues in Tourism, 1(1), 2–46). This chapter is published here with the kind permission of the journal.

2 The research presented in this chapter was conducted while the author was affiliated with the Centre for Human Settlements, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada.

were taken by the governments and the sponsors of the hallmark events to prevent evictions from occurring?

Forms of social resistance — What were the actions undertaken to prevent the evictions? What were the reasons for the success or failure of these actions?

Institutional context — What was the legal and jurisdictional context of the eviction process? What rights did landlords, tenants, governments, and hallmark-event sponsors have? What options did the community have to prevent the evictions? Were these options used? What sorts of discussion took place on the issue of housing rights?

Effects of evictions — At the microlevel, how many people were evicted? What were the housing conditions of the affected parties before, during, and after the evictions? What were the health effects of the eviction process? What impact did the evictions have on existing social networks in the community? Were there any gender-specific issues? At the macrolevel, what was the impact of the hallmark events on housing stock in the community? What were the roles of the hallmark events in redeveloping urban space? What were or could be some of the long-term implications of such redevelopments for tenants?

Research methods

A qualitative case-study approach was used in this research. Both primary and secondary sources of data were used to address the research questions outlined above. Focused interviews and semistructured interviews were conducted with representatives of community groups and nongovernmental organizations, government officials, politicians, hallmark-event sponsors, and the media. Reports, academic articles, student theses, and various media documents were analyzed.

Fieldwork was carried out for 1 week in both Calgary and Toronto in 1991. Ten to 15 people were interviewed in each of the three cities on the research questions. The Vancouver case was an update of previous research conducted by the author (Olds 1988), but in the Calgary and Toronto cases, completely original research was conducted for this study.

Because of the nature of the research questions, the analysis was primarily qualitative, and it told a story from an informed perspective. Some quantitative data were drawn on to illustrate specific points.

Background: hallmark events and forced evictions

Tourism is emerging as a major industry. One high-profile component of tourism is the hallmark event. Hallmark events are defined by Ritchie (1984, p. 2) as

major one-time or recurring events of limited duration, developed primarily to enhance the awareness, appeal and profitability of a tourism destination in the short and/or long term. Such events rely for their success on uniqueness, status, or timely significance to create interest and attract attention.

World’s fairs and the Olympics are the two largest hallmark events. Forced evictions and the subsequent negative impacts on evictees are phenomena rarely associated with the western, industrialized First World. In recent decades, however, it has become increasingly common to hear of large-scale forced evictions as a result of hallmark events such as a World’s Fair or the Olympics. As such events are by their very nature unique, communities in host cities are often unaware of, or lack the knowledge of, how to prepare for and prevent such evictions. Following the event, longer term displacement impacts often occur. In the majority of cases, these events have been used to initiate and propel urban redevelopment plans. Long-term redevelopment planning occurs with the hallmark event acting as a catalyst, and communities — usually those of the urban poor — pay the costs in terms of displacement, negative effects on health, the breakdown of social networks, and the loss of affordable housing (Olds 1988; Hall 1992).

Little research has been carried out on the issue of evictions related to hallmark events and no comparative (regional or international) research has been done. Olds (1988) examined the changing nature of the World’s Fair since the late 1800s. In the last two decades, the hallmark events’ use as an inner-city redevelopment-planning tool, in combination with the pressures created by millions of fair visitors, has tended to create four main forms of housing impact: on-site impact; post-announcement speculative impact; pre-event tourist-accommodation supply impact; and post-event impact. In cities as diverse as Brisbane, Knoxville, Montréal, New Orleans, San Antonio, Seattle, and Spokane, hundreds to thousands of tenants have been evicted because of event-induced pressures. For example, between 1 000 and 1 500 people were evicted in Knoxville, Tennessee, because of redevelopment pressures associated with Expo ‘82. Consequently, the Korean and Canadian cases in this book represent a first step toward the detailed examination of the social impacts of hallmark events, impacts that clearly contravene the human right to housing.

Overview of research findings in the three case studies

As noted in the preceding sections of this chapter, forced evictions related to hallmark events took place in both Vancouver and Calgary, and the potential for evictions became an important issue in deliberations over the Olympic bid proposal in Toronto. In each case, the nature of the issue was structured by specific contextual elements (for example, the nature of the political regimes in power; local housing markets) and by more generic forces related to the specifics of both bidding for and operating a hallmark event.

In Vancouver, although no housing was demolished on the Expo ‘86 site, post-announcement speculative impacts were created in the inner-city Downtown Eastside neighbourhood that bordered the fair site. Land values increased after the announcement, and between 1000 and 2 000 lodging-house units were demolished or closed down. This loss occurred between 1978 and 1984 (Expo ‘86 was announced in 1980), with another 600 units permanently lost between 1984 and 1986. However, Expo ‘86 was only one of several factors contributing to this loss. Pre-event tourist-accommodation supply impact began occurring vigorously 3 to 4 months before 2 May 1986, when Expo ‘86 opened. By July 1986, the impacts ceased, leaving a total of 500-850 residents dislocated. Many of the poor, elderly, and primarily male evictees faced serious health problems, and several committed suicide, or died prematurely. Following Expo ‘86, Downtown Eastside vacancy rates returned to prefair levels, and the vast majority of evicting residential hotels began catering to traditional clientele. Some hotel owners faced serious financial difficulties because reality did not meet their expectations of tourist demand. The Downtown Eastside housing and land market remained unstable after 1986. The future development plans for the site of Expo ‘86 and other downtown areas were beginning to create pressures on existing residents, and these could be expected to continue over the next 20-year development phase (Hulchanski 1989b).

Community action based on the right to housing was vigorous and strategic in Vancouver, but it had little ameliorative impact. This was because of the “politics of planning”: the issues of political jurisdiction, ideology, and ideological differences. The provincial government alone could pass rent and eviction-control legislation. Analysis of comments by provincial politicians and their supporters suggests an ideology that values the exchange value of housing over the use value; a belief in the primacy of economic relations; a belief that the inner city must be redeveloped; and a belief that Downtown Eastside residents did not live in a community, but in a geographic area without bonds to the physical or social environment, and obviously without the right to housing. Long-term housing impacts continued to be addressed by the community, with only partial support from the government. Unfortunately, in the long-run, the residential-displacement process would be more damaging to the community than the Expo ‘86 eviction saga. Although people in the community were active, they were engaged in an exhausting struggle in a long-term process that received little supportive attention from policymakers.

The 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics caused or contributed to four forms of housing impact. First, in the construction phase of the games, a stadium was sited in a recreational area bordering one of Calgary’s poorest residential communities, Victoria Park. The stadium was sited in this area, against most of the community’s wishes, in a process of autocratic decision-making. This decision contributed to the ongoing destabilization of the community to accommodate future expansion plans for the recreational area — the Calgary Stampede and Exhibition grounds. Second, about 740 tenants were displaced from two apartment-building complexes in Calgary. The tenants were offered moving assistance and financial incentives to move. But it should be noted they had no legal alternative, as the Alberta Landlord and Tenant Act (1988) permitted eviction without cause. Third, several dozen long-term dwellers in residential hotels were relocated from their rooms (with incentives again) to make room for visitors to the Winter Olympics. Fourth, about 1450 students were temporarily displaced from residences at two Calgary educational institutions. Again, assistance and prior notice were offered to the students to help them move, but they had no choice.

Community resistance was ineffective in Victoria Park and failed to develop significantly in the other cases. This was because of lack of access to, and support from, powerful local and provincial politicians and event organizers (groups with interlocking networks), who also had long-term plans for the community’s land. Moreover, provincial laws governing landlord and tenant relations enabled such displacement to take place, effectively annulling the reasoning behind the tenants’ protests. This situation both reflected and contributed to the perception of tenants in Alberta as second-class citizens.

Toronto failed to win the bid for the 1996 Summer Olympics. However, housing issues, including the potential for evictions, were incorporated into the bidding process, and a plan to address such concerns was developed by the city and agreed to by the provincial government. The main reasons for this included (1) active and strategic community work on the issues; (2) important support for community concerns from some political and bureaucratic actors; and (3) contextual factors, including an ongoing housing crisis, which made various actors aware of the need to address housing concerns, and historically strong tenancy laws (relative to Vancouver and Calgary), which effectively forced all debates to be based on the assumption that evictions should be categorically abhorred. However, numerous weaknesses in the landlord and tenant laws were identified by community activists in the bid-preparation process, demonstrating that even with rhetoric, as well as law, political commitment is needed to implement the right to housing.

The case studies

Vancouver — Expo ‘86

The Vancouver context

Vancouver is Canada’s third largest city; in 1991, it had an urban population of about 460 000 and a regional population of 1.4 million. Located on the west coast of North America, the city has been the western terminus of the cross-Canada railway since the turn of the 20th century. In the first seven decades of the 1900s, Vancouver grew rapidly, acting as a service centre for British Columbia’s growing resource economy (primarily logging, mining, and fishing). The city had a relatively small (compared with a city like Toronto) manufacturing base, which was gradually shifting to the suburbs.

From the 1970s on, Vancouver’s tourism industry grew at a rapid pace, and Expo ‘86 could be seen as both symbolizing and contributing to this growth. Overall, the city was generally perceived to have made a successful transition from industrial to post-industrial status (Ley 1980). Vancouver had become a centre for higher order producer services (for example, accounting, engineering) not only for the province but also for much of western Canada, as well as increasingly for the Pacific Rim (Davis and Hutton 1992). Such structural change contributed to the ongoing transformation of industrial land in the centre of the city, toward residential and commercial uses, and this increased land values in the inner city, the location of much of Vancouver’s low-cost housing. In 1986, Vancouver was the second-most expensive city in Canada to live in (after Toronto), and by 1992 it overtook Toronto in terms of overall living expenses.

Vancouver won the bid for Expo ‘86 during a major recession in British Columbia, as resource industries were being ravaged by global restructuring processes. Also, a neoconservative provincial government was developing and implementing a highly contentious restraint program. Expo ‘86 was designed to be a “feel-good” spectacle to help people forget the conflict and economic hardships felt in the 1980s, to create jobs (construction and tourism), and to demonstrate to the world the potential for investment in various sectors of the province’s economy, including real estate. As noted in The Expo ‘86 General Report, “it was imperative that this exposition transcend the reality of a troubled decade” (GoC 1986, p. 75).

Expo ‘86

The first documented proposal for holding a World’s Fair in Vancouver’s inner city was in 1974, and not until February 1978 was the idea of sponsoring a fair seriously suggested again. Architect Randle Iredale prepared a concept study for the redevelopment of the north shore of False Creek. On the opposite shore, the celebrated False Creek neighbourhood was being developed at that time. The north side of False Creek had been under consideration for redevelopment since 1967, when Marathon Realty (the real-estate arm of Canadian Pacific Railway) first raised the issue of building residential towers on the declining industrial site.

After reading the Iredale concept study, its sponsor, the Provincial Recreation and Conservation Minister, proposed an “international exposition to complement Vancouver’s 1986 centenary” (Bennett 1980). Vancouver’s centenary was simply a suitable excuse to hold a World’s Fair, given that all fairs are linked to important dates, such as the centennial of the French Revolution (Expo 1889), the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Columbus in America (Expo 1893), and the 10th anniversary of the gold rush (Expo 1909). This linkage is required to attract support from the community, all levels of government, and the Bureau of International Expositions (BIE).

In January 1980, Premier William Bennett announced his “vision for the future, a vision to build a great meeting place for all our people that we would call British Columbia Place” (Bennett 1980). His vision consisted of a sports stadium, a World’s Fair, and a brand new rapid-transit line linking the central business district to the World’s Fair site and the suburbs. He mentioned the enormity of the site and the consequent benefits for all people of Vancouver, if it were developed properly. Most important from the perspective of this research was the use of a fair to launch the redevelopment project:

The trigger for this development will be Transpo ‘86. ... We see in this Exposition an opportunity to host both a major World Fair and to proceed with developments that suit our present and future needs. ... We see in Transpo ‘86 the chance for a celebration that will leave a lasting legacy.

(Bennett 1980)

Soon after, the Expo ‘86 Corporation was officially established. It was a Crown corporation with an appointed board, responsible to the province. Unfortunately, as we shall see, the fair and its 70-ha site was situated next to one of Vancouver’s poorest communities — Downtown Eastside.

Evictions, displacement, and community action in Vancouver

HOUSING RIGHTS AND THE LEGAL FRAMEWORK IN VANCOUVER — The housing rights (or lack thereof) of residential hotel dwellers (the vast majority of Expo ‘86 evictees) in British Columbia in 1986 were critical to understanding the nature and scale of event-related evictions in Vancouver. In British Columbia, landlord-tenant relations were governed by the provincial Residential Tenancy Act (RTA). Local government did not have the legal authority to create regulations affecting key relationships between landlords and tenants, such as the setting of rent levels or security of tenure. The provincial RTA stipulated the various rights and obligations of both landlords and tenants, including concerns such as rent increases and subletting. For example, evictions could only take place for specific reasons, such as suite damage, although rent increases (permitted once per year, with no limits on the scale) could effectively force a tenant out. The RTA did offer some degree of security, albeit very limited.

Unfortunately, in 1986, residential hotel dwellers were not even protected by the RTA, as they were classified as licencees or guests, rather than as tenants. Moreover, the landlord was considered an innkeeper. In this context, the relations between these two actors were governed by the Innkeepers Act, which laid out the rights and obligations of all hotel owners (and their guests) in the province. In effect, this Act covered guests and owners of the luxurious Hyatt Hotel, as well as those living in and owning decrepit residential hotels. The impact of residents’ being defined as licencees included the following (TRC 1986):

• Guests were only permitted between certain hours, and they were charged extra if they stayed overnight;

• Eviction was permitted at any time for any reason; and

• Guests’ goods could be seized at any time.

This classification implied that even if residential hotel dwellers had lived in a room for 25 years (as some of the Expo ‘86 evictees had), they would not be afforded the barest of protection from the actions of the building manager or owner. Community and housing activists had been attempting to change this situation for years before the Expo ‘86 evictions but were unsuccessful because the provincial government refused to act. This left the hotel dwellers in a precarious housing situation.

EXPO ‘86’s NEXT-DOOR NEIGHBOUR: DOWNTOWN EASTSIDE —Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside community bounded the northern and eastern edges of the site of Expo ‘86. The 1981 Census found 16 608 people living in Downtown Eastside, with just under half (45%) residing in lodging houses (residential hotels, rooming houses, nonprofit hostels, and multiple-conversion dwellings). A 1986 survey by the City of Vancouver Social Planning Department (CVSPD) registered about 9 600 lodging-house units in Downtown Eastside. The lodging-house population (the residential-hotel residents in particular) came under examination in this case study. As characterized by the Downtown Eastside Residents Association (DERA 1987), a typical Downtown Eastside resident was an unemployed man, about 55 years old, receiving social assistance, living alone in a small housekeeping room, and paying $225 a month. He had probably lived in the community in a variety of lodging houses on and off for the past 15 years. He had previously worked in primary industries (for example, logging, mining) and may have become disabled while working.

Residents of Downtown Eastside tended to be fiercely independent individuals with links to informal social-support systems. A strong sense of community existed in Downtown Eastside. The residents had been represented by DERA since 1973. This community organization was formed after residents became upset with the decades of intransigence and neglect they had been forced to endure. In the last two decades, DERA had become involved in a wide array of activities, including critical analyses of plans for the area, lobbying, and affordable-housing development. Led by Jim Green for the past decade, DERA was one of Canada’s most organized and powerful community organizations and had received much attention from the media and academics (see, for example, Gerecke 1991; Ley and Hasson 1994). DERA had about 4000 members when the Expo ‘86 eviction crisis began.

THE EXPO ‘86 EVICTION SAGA — The first questions about the possible housing impacts of Expo ‘86 (then called Transpo ‘86) and British Columbia Place were raised during the summer of 1981, 6 months after BIE officially ratified the Expo ‘86 application. In Downtown Eastside, the First United Church representatives predicted that at least 800 low- and fixed-income residents would be evicted from residential hotels and rooming houses being upgraded for Expo ‘86’s lucrative tourist trade (Rankin 1981; Lyotier and Shuter 1982; SDEC 1982). DERA began voicing concerns in public over the potential for evictions at this time, and it initiated a research project to discover what impacts occurred in cities where hallmark events had previously been held.

In response to community concerns and to calls from some local politicians for preventative planning, the CVSPD initiated work in October 1983 on a major initiative called the Expo Housing Program. This program involved seeking additional housing assistance from the Canada and Mortgage Housing Corporation to offset potential housing impacts of Expo ‘86. Community groups in Downtown Eastside, such as DERA, were to manage the newly constructed housing projects if the plan was accepted by the federal government.

DERA and CVSPD developed various other options in 1984. The most important and controversial of these was a rent-freeze and no-eviction program. This option was initially proposed by DERA and refined with CVSPD staff input. In the proposal, the long-term (more than 1 year) residents of lodging houses would receive protection from both rent increases and evictions during Expo ‘86. This option required approval from provincial government because the city did not have legal authority to enact either rent controls or eviction protection.

By June of 1985, the results were in from a CVSPD survey entitled Downtown Expo Housing Survey (COV 1985). In the report, it was noted that a large majority of hotel operators would not be undergoing major upgrading specifically for Expo ‘86 until the last possible moment — January or February 1986. DERA stepped up its lobbying activities and pressured all levels of government, as well as the Expo ‘86 authorities, to take preventative action. Local-community meetings were held on the subject.

The Downtown Expo Housing Survey prediction, and the lack of support from the Expo ‘86 organization and both senior levels of government for the Expo Housing Program, caused DERA and CVSPD to focus on the ounce-of-prevention option — time-limited, no-rent-increase, no-eviction legislation applied to long-term residents of residential hotels. By 13 August 1985, this option had come before Vancouver City Council for approval. It failed to pass as Council split 5 to 5 on the motion to request the provincial government to amend either the City Charter or the RTA until 13 October 1986 (the day Expo ‘86 was scheduled to close). There was firm opposition to this option from various members of City Council, including Alderman (now Mayor) Gordon Campbell, who aligned himself with the British Columbia Hotels’ Association. Their perspective was that no hotel owners intended to evict tenants. Rather, in the words of Campbell, rent-freeze advocates were “trying to set up a bunch of straw men and burn them down .... The hotels in the Downtown Eastside are not going to be prime locations for Expo” (Minovitz 1985). The same motion was entertained by City Council a month later, and it too failed to receive majority support.

By February 1986, at the exact time predicted by CVSPD, forced evictions had begun to occur. Lodging-house managers began evicting large numbers of short- and long-term residents to complete minor renovations so that they could attempt to rent the units to Expo ‘86 tourists. Once the media began covering the poor, elderly, and often handicapped people being forced out of their homes, City Council addressed the matter again. On 25 February 1986, Council finally passed a motion requesting the provincial government to legislate an end to the evictions. Certain members of City Council continued to oppose this option, however. A public debate was held the same day in the Downtown Eastside community. Mayor Mike Harcourt represented the city; Jimmy Pattison, Expo ‘86 (Pattison was president of the Expo ‘86 Corporation); and Jim Green, DERA. DERA and empathetic members of City Council hoped that Pattison would lobby the provincial government for the proposed legislation if he could be convinced that the situation was severe. Countless evictees paraded before Pattison to tell their story (see Kelly [1986] for a critical analysis of this self-made millionaire). However, the provincial government refused to act, because it did not perceive the evictions to be a serious problem. As the pace of evictions increased during the latter days of February, a major protest march was organized by DERA, in association with other local groups, and it attracted considerable media attention.

Six days after the rally, a Provincial-City Task Force was created and the city (via CVSPD) was pressured into creating a “clearing house” to relocate residents. At this time, tension in the community was extreme, with concern over the scale of the evictions and the potential health problems associated with evicting elderly, poor, and often already unhealthy people. The media covered the eviction issue with detailed daily reports during this period, which were generally empathetic toward the evictees.

During March and April, both the city and DERA continued to lobby the provincial government for legislation while identifying actions the city and community could take to slow the pace of evictions. By late May, the evictions had slowed to a trickle, and CVSPD considered closing the housing registry it had set up in Carnegie Centre. A Concert For The Evicted was held, featuring such luminaries of social protest as Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie.

In the summer of 1986, event-related evictions stopped taking place and the housing registry was closed. The City’s Health Department and DERA continued to monitor the health status of the evictees. Little effort was devoted to lobbying for legislation because the eviction crisis was waning and because by now it was apparent the provincial government would not grant legislation. Expo ‘86 closed in October, and by spring 1987, the vacancy rate of Downtown Eastside lodging houses returned to normal (about 10-20%).

In summary, through a variety of strategies, the Downtown Eastside community, as represented by DERA, actively sought to prevent forced evictions. Before the start of the forced evictions, DERA undertook the following:

• Background research on the tenuous situation of area residents;

• Research on cities that had previously hosted hallmark events;

• Public-information meetings;

• Development of strategies to leverage permanent affordable housing for the area;

• Development of a temporary rent-freeze-no-eviction plan via changes to municipal regulations and the RTA;

• Lobbying efforts directed to all levels of government and Expo ‘86 Board; and

• Media campaigns.

Once the evictions started, the community attempted to both halt the evictions and lessen their social impacts. DERA specifically undertook the following measures:

• Lobbying efforts directed to all levels of government and the Expo Board;

• Collaboration with supportive city politicians and officials on various initiatives;

• Relocation of evictees;

• Documentation of the issue — research and art;

• Protest rallies;

• Media campaigns; and

• Initiation of a campaign to boycott bars of residential hotels evicting residents.

All strategies were explicitly based on the principle of the right to housing, as well as the right to community self-determination (J. Green, personal communication).

THE SOCIAL IMPACTS OF EXPO ‘86 — As noted above, generally four different types of housing impact are created by evictions. Three types of impact occurred in the Vancouver case.

1. Post-announcement speculative impact — Following the announcement of Expo ‘86 and the British Columbia Place development in 1980, some land speculation began in Downtown Eastside. Examination of data detailing changes in the value of downtown residential hotels points to a destabilized market with a rapid increase in land values or change in ownership. This was determined by examining land and building values in a sample of 70 downtown lodging houses in four subareas of Downtown Eastside. As land values in the area increased, the relative value of the buildings decreased. This signifies that redevelopment pressure on the housing stock as a whole (land + building) was not being used to its maximum economic potential. Notably, the ratio dropped following the 1980 announcement of British Columbia Place and Expo ‘86, and redevelopment pressure on the stock generally increased throughout this period. Similar conclusions can be drawn from the CVSPD lodging-house surveys for 1983 and 1985 (COV 1983, 1985). Substantial housing loss occurred in Downtown Eastside after 1978. Various estimates of the loss put it at between 1 000 and 2 000 units for the period of 1978 to 1984. This is supported by data from the 1986 survey, which showed a permanent loss of about 600 lodging-house units (primarily sleeping–housekeeping units) between 1984 and 1986. As the Mayor of Vancouver put it (Harcourt 1984a),

In the past four years, about 80 private rooming houses — which provided more than 2,000 rooms for low-income families and individuals — have closed down. Some have been converted to nonresidential use, others have been demolished.

Shayler (1986) and Hulchanski (1989a, b) also documented this trend. Thus, Expo ‘86 had a destabilizing effect on land values (and therefore housing supply) in Downtown Eastside before the fair. Other contributing factors included core commercial expansion, the expansion of the Chinese district, the low profit margins of this type of rental housing, the enforcement of city standard-of-maintenance bylaws, and general urban-redevelopment pressures.

2. Pre-event tourist accommodation-supply impact — This form of housing impact occurs when landlords evict tenants from housing units in order to rent these units to people working at or visiting the hallmark event. Generally, the rooms receive minor renovations (for example, paint) once the inhabitants have been evicted. The exact number of Downtown Eastside lodging-house residents who were displaced because of the pressure induced by Expo ‘86 was a controversial issue. Politicians, planners, and community representatives have suggested estimates of “a few” to 2 000 evictees. After examining various data sources (government and community reports, press clippings, and interviews with key actors), I estimated that between 500 and 850 evictions occurred from Downtown Eastside lodging houses because of pre-event tourist-accommodation supply impact. In addition, between 1 000 and 1 500 lodging-house rooms were switched from monthly rental to tourist-rental status during the spring of 1986. To put some perspective on both of these figures, the 1981 census tabulates about 7461 lodging-house tenants living in Downtown Eastside and, as of April of 1986, about 9600 lodging-house units in Downtown Eastside.

It should be noted that evictions were both direct (for example, receipt of an eviction notice) and indirect (for example, rent increases or implementation of strict regulations banning cooking in the rooms). The evictions had significant negative social implications for the displaced residents. Individuals were forced to relocate, either privately or with assistance, to another housing unit. If suitable vacant units could not be found in Downtown Eastside, some evictees were offered vacant public-housing units in outlying suburban districts. Many evictees moved to another unit, only to be evicted a second time. The impact in the case of Expo ‘86 was amplified because the average Downtown Eastside resident is unemployed, elderly, poor, and either handicapped or in a weak state of health. These residents could not adequately deal with the physical and psychological stress brought on by the eviction. As one evictee, 59-year-old John Muller, noted (Hume 1986),

I’m not going to move unless they force me out. I’m not a piece of garbage. I’ve been here three years and don’t mind if they raise the rent, but I won’t move. ... Once you get used to a place, it’s like a pair of shoes, they’re comfortable. Even if they get worn out you still put your old shoes on.

This hotel to me is home. You go to the beer parlor, you know everybody.... I like this place but what they’ve done — it’s inhuman.

Some of the evictees who faced health problems after being evicted include Olaf Solhein, an 80-year-old man who “made a conscious decision to stop living” because of the stress associated with the eviction (J. Bla-therwick, personal communication) and two men who committed suicide soon after receiving their eviction notices. DERA organizer Jim Green stated that 11 evictees had died as of March 1988 and numerous others experienced negative health impacts (personal communication).

3. Post-event impact — While Expo ‘86 was operating, a high proportion of the owners and operators of residential hotels from which residents were evicted failed to see the materialization of their dreams of financial gain. Significant negative publicity occurred because of the evictions and the poor quality of the renovation work. Also, Downtown Eastside residents stopped frequenting the bars of hotels where residents were evicted. This action cut off an important source of revenue.

Following Expo ‘86, many residential hotels attempted to bring back the previous residents. Some of the hotels initially attempted to continue catering to tourists, but their efforts had mixed results. By spring of 1988, only one hotel that formerly rented to long-term Downtown Eastside residents had remained a tourist hotel. Many hotels borrowed money to renovate and failed to make up this cost. Consequently, several of the hotels where residents were evicted went into receivership, and some have been sold. The rent levels in lodging houses returned to pre-event rates after Expo ‘86 closed, and the vacancy rate (as of October 1987) was about equal to the rate recorded more than 1 year before Expo opened.

Between 1986 and 1992, residential hotels continued to be demolished or closed down in Downtown Eastside (Hulchanski 1989b). Between 1985 and 1989, about 1150 units were lost, leaving about 9000 units in total (by 1989). This trend continues, with pressures exerted on the stock from a variety of redevelopment initiatives in the downtown area, including Pacific Place, the urban megaproject that is being built on the Expo ‘86 site (Beazley 1992). Some efforts were being made to develop nonprofit housing in Downtown Eastside to offset the loss of lodging houses (Hulchanski et al. 1991). Indeed, an ironic impact of the Expo ‘86 evictions was that it spurred DERA to get involved in affordable-housing development, and it now manages more than 600 units of housing in the community (including Solheim Place, named in honour of Olaf Solheim, who died after being evicted). However, given the inadequate and steadily decreasing funds for nonprofit-housing programs in Canada, future trends would most likely have a negative impact on current Downtown Eastside residents.

Community action and impact: the critical factors

Clearly, the community attempted to prevent forced evictions from occurring in the first place. Once the evictions started, rigorous efforts were made to force all levels of government to halt the disruptive impacts by legal means. However, the community goals were only supported by some of the local politicians, including the mayor, and they in turn had no success in pressuring the provincial government to halt the evictions. Could the dislocation of between 500 and 850 Downtown Eastside residents have been prevented if both City Council and the provincial government had acted on the DERA-CVSPD recommendation for preventative rent-freeze-no-eviction legislation? The answer is yes. However, the process of addressing issues such as housing rights and housing policy is inherently political and structured according to the particular ideology of each party involved. Ideological differences and political jurisdiction also affect the way the issue is handled. The main community goal (and city goal once the evictions began) of ensuring that the potential permanent or temporary displacement of long-term low-and moderate-income residents be stopped or held to a minimum was not attained. Why?

The recommendation for preventative legislation met stiff opposition as soon as it was publicly considered in late 1984. At the municipal level, the mere suggestion of the possibility of evictions, let alone the consideration of a legislative solution was considered by several alderpersons to be only politically motivated. For example, in September 1985, one stated (Rogers Cable TV, Vancouver, September 1985),

I think it’s an arbitrary and political type of action which doesn’t serve anybody’s needs in the long run. ... I think that this has been a scare campaign that frankly, is strictly politically motivated and not one based on any kind of fact.... It should be a non-issue but I think some people are trying to make it an issue.

At the provincial level, the government refused to heed the recommendation of City Council for a legislative solution to the eviction crisis. Comments in the media suggested provincial politicians perceived legislative action preventing evictions and rent increases to be an unneeded, unfair intervention in the marketplace. They preferred to give assistance to people to move. Michael Walker (an advisor to the governing Social Credit party) stated that “displaced rooming house tenants” would

save everyone a lot of trouble if they all were put on buses to the Kootenays [a region 300 miles from Vancouver]. ... The world runs by greed ... everyone is greedy in one way or another. What we’re talking about is relative greed. It’s not a question of dire necessity. It’s a question of choice of location. People are saying “I don’t want to live in the Kootenays ... I want to live where the action is.”

(Glavin 1986)

When Vancouver Mayor Mike Harcourt asked Walker about the proposed legislative solution, Walker asked, “Isn’t it morally wrong to do that?” (Glavin 1986). Another Fraser Institute spokesperson also presented such views in a Vancouver newspaper column (Block 1986).

The provincial government refused to seriously consider a legislative solution to the pre-event tourist accommodation-supply impact of Expo ‘86. Instead, it put its full weight behind relocating tenants through the housing registry. The province felt that evictees should be grateful for this assistance. For example, when several evictees displayed reluctance to move into distant suburban social-housing units far from their community, Jack Kempf, Minister of Lands, Parks and Housing, stated that

The old adage that you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink sure holds true in this situation. You can provide all the accommodation you want to those so-called evictees but you can’t make them move into it.

(Vancouver Sun 1986b)

The provincial government and some Vancouver alderpersons deemed the housing registry a suitable option for dealing with the housing impacts of Expo ‘86 because it was a “positive” solution to place “these people in appropriate accommodation” (Alderman Gordon Campbell, CBC Radio, 2 June 1985). More importantly, such an option permitted the inner city to be redeveloped. In a 26 February 1986 BCTV News Hour program, Bill Ritchie, Minister of Municipal Affairs, was interviewed. He stated that “despite hardship of individuals, development must take place.” Also, a Vancouver Province article (Vancouver Sun 1986a, p. 27) quoted Premier Bill Bennett as saying that legislation aimed at preventing evictions would also stop redevelopment: “Handling problems of people, and also encouraging the removal of areas that in many communities could also be called slum areas, are the government priorities.”

Although the resources and power existed at the provincial level to prevent evictions (thereby acknowledging the residents have at least some housing rights), a decision was made to allow the evictions to occur. This is because the view of the politicians reflected a philosophy that emphasizes the exchange value over the use value of housing; a belief in the primacy of economic relations; a belief that the inner city must be redeveloped; and a belief that Downtown Eastside residents do not live in a community. Rather, those with power considered Downtown East-side residents to live in a geographic area, without bonds to the physical or social environment.

The right to housing, including security of tenure, simply does not exist, according to this view, unless you can purchase this right with adequate personal income. This philosophy continued to be demonstrated in the early 1990s as affordable albeit often inadequate housing in Vancouver’s poorest community continued to disappear in the face of market-led redevelopment pressures and inadequate government protection.

Calgary—the 1988 Winter Olympics

The Calgary context

Located about 100 km east of the Rocky Mountains, Calgary (population of 650000 in 1988) is the capital of Canada’s oil and gas industry and also acts as a major agribusiness centre for the three prairie provinces.

Calgary has grown rapidly since the 1960s. Employment opportunities in a variety of economic sectors have attracted people from across Canada. The population has swollen with an educated white-collar labour force (indeed, it is the most educated population of all Canadian cities); most of these people come to Calgary seeking a comfortable existence in sprawling suburban settlements. Links to the past remain, however. Calgary is home to the Calgary Stampede, an annual July event with cattle-tying contests, chuck-wagon races, and hearty breakfasts. The mythology surrounding the Stampede continues in the later part of the 20th century, even though the majority of the population makes a living in enclosed office space (Campbell 1984). This event, along with plans for the Stampede site, were linked to the Olympic Games as well, and they contributed to the destabilization, and likely also the breakup, of a lower income community bordering the Stampede site.

The 1988 Winter Olympics was an important stage in the planned image transformation of this former western-Canadian cow town to that of a more international city — a city that presents its inhabitants and visitors with world-class recreational activities, high-tech manufacturing opportunities, and tourism thrills (CEDA 1988; Scott 1992). In keeping with the tradition of “boosterism” and pro-growth goals that long characterized prairie cities like Calgary (Artibise and Stel-ter 1979; Reasons 1984), the Winter Olympics were designed to act as a catalyst to propel the city into the 21st century. For example, Hiller (1990, p. 133) suggested that the

Olympics symbolized the urban transformation in both population growth and downtown expansion that recently had occurred in the city, and the Olympic Games became the vehicle to make a statement about this transformation to the world.

As such, the hopes of the city’s economic and political elite rested with the successful operation of the Winter Olympics. Although not without dissenters, it was apparent that the goal of having everyone contributing to the cause was an overriding element that coloured most interactions, not the least of which were eviction and displacement processes.

The 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics

From 13 to 28 February 1988, Calgary hosted the XV Olympic Winter Games. Fifty-seven countries participated in the most expensive Winter Olympics in history. More than 180000 people visited Calgary to watch the Winter Olympics at six venues in and around the metropolitan region. An estimated 1.5 billion people watched the Winter Olympics over their 16-day stretch on television.

The bid for the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics was initiated by the Calgary Olympic Development Association (CODA). CODA was formed in 1960 to prepare a bid for the 1964 Winter Olympics. Although unsuccessful, the organization remained in existence (with brief periods of hiatus) and put in bids for both the 1968 and 1972 Olympics, although they too were awarded to other cities. Preparatory work for the bid for the 1988 Winter Olympics began in 1978, with Frank King, chair of CODA (who later became chair of the Olympic organizing organization, Olympiques Calgary Olympics [OCO]) acting as catalyst. The bid was a collaborative effort, with CODA coordinating the bid and with support (financial and otherwise) coming from the Calgary Booster Club, the Canadian Olympic Association, the City of Calgary, the Province of Alberta, the Government of Canada, the University of Calgary, and a large number of interested organizations and individuals (Hiller 1990). The main players constituted a cross section of Calgary’s business and government elite, and they had very strong links to the ruling provincial political party, the Progressive Conservatives. The bid cost about $2 million to prepare.

The bid was designed to leverage funding for legacies from the provincial and federal governments, as well as from OCO. Strong financial commitment on the part of senior levels of government also helped sell the bid to the International Olympic Committee (IOC). For example, the federal government committed up to $200 million in 1979 toward the Winter Olympics (this figure represented about 50% of the total Winter Olympics’ budget at the time of the bid). The final budget for the Winter Olympics was about $1 billion.

On 30 September 1981, the Winter Olympics were awarded to Calgary. OCO was enlisted to turn the plans from the bid book into a reality. As with most bid books, though, new ideas and realism meshed to create a somewhat different result. The budget doubled, as did revenue projections. The organizers pushed for the creation of even more new facilities in order to leave Calgary with as many legacies as possible. In the end, more than $350 million was spent on athletic facilities on sites both in and throughout the Calgary region (OWGOC 1988).

The many permanent legacies of the Winter Olympics were funded by various contributions from the federal, provincial, and municipal governments, as well as OCO. Legacies include the $98 million Olympic Saddledome Stadium, the $72 million Canada Olympic Park (bobsled, luge, ski-jumping, and skiing facilities), a $28 million addition to University of Calgary buildings, and the $5.9 million Broadcast Hill Media Village (27 three-story walk-up apartment blocks with 266 residential suites). This housing reverted to private ownership on conclusion of the Winter Olympics. It was built by the owner earlier than it might otherwise have been in return for the above-noted financial contributions. Another of these legacies was the $5 million Lincoln Park Media Village, with 2 500 beds in 550 Atco Trailers. Most of these units were presold to the federal and provincial governments, moved, following the Winter Olympics, to rural Alberta, and converted into low-cost housing. Some were relocated at the nearby Mount Royal College, as well, and are now used as student housing (Reasons 1984; Hiller 1987; COC 1988; OWGOC 1988; King 1991; P. Fraser, personal communication). The Games also created a variety of economic impacts. The official report of the XV Olympic Winter Games Organizing Committee suggested that there were $1.4 billion in economic benefits created, with $506 million coming from capital projects and improvements; $310 million, from operations and planning; $150 million, from visitor expenditures; and $424 million, from induced economic effects (OWGOC 1988). Rooney (see Hall 1992) suggested that $449 million worth of economic impact occurred in Calgary and that $650 million worth of impacts occurred in the rest of Canada. An estimated $30 million in profit was made from these Winter Olympics (OWGOC 1988; see in Hall 1992).

Evictions, displacement, and community action in Calgary

The 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics caused or contributed to the four main types of housing impact, and each generated a specific form of community action. Before these impacts are discussed, however, it is important to briefly outline the institutional context (that is, the laws affecting housing, landlord and tenant relations, and political jurisdiction).

HOUSING RIGHTS AND THE LEGAL FRAMEWORK IN CALGARY, ALBERTA — The laws governing landlord and tenant relations (as of 1988) played a key role in facilitating the evictions associated with the Calgary Winter Olympics. As is the Expo ‘86 case, in Calgary, Alberta, the province has the jurisdiction to create laws affecting security of tenure and rent levels.

Although a tenant is afforded various rights and obligations in Alberta — such as the right of not being disturbed by a landlord (for example, surprise inspections), of having a safe and clean premise, and of receiving his or her damage deposit with interest when moving out — two major aspects of legislation undermine security of tenure.

First, tenants can be evicted without cause, providing the landlord gives the tenant 90 days notice. In 1988, Albertan landlords could evict a tenant for whatever reason, from disliking the colour of their hair (or skin), to wanting the suite vacant to rent it to tourists. Second, a landlord was legally permitted to raise rents by any amount, provided 90 days notice had been given. The tenant had no recourse if rents were increased by, for example, 1 000%. The consequences of these two aspects of the Alberta Landlord and Tenant Act were that landlords could evict and displace tenants at any time and that the tenants would have no option but to move if they received an eviction notice or if the rent was raised beyond their financial means.

It is also important to note that in 1988, students living in nonself-contained residences (for example, a room without a kitchen or washroom within its space) were not covered by the Landlord and Tenant Act. Rather, they were considered licencees (a condition offering even less security of tenure), whereas residents of residential hotels and rooming houses were covered by the Inn Keepers Act (P. Fraser, personal communication). This Act was less protective of the rights of tenants, and they could be evicted at a moment’s notice or have their rents raised by any amount at any time.

VICTORIA PARK AND THE SADDLEDOME IMPACTS —The social impacts of the Calgary Winter Olympics go back to 1980 and the preparation of the city’s bid for the Olympics. As noted above, one of the main aims of hosting the Winter Olympics was to leave Calgary with a range of legacies in the form of modern, world-class athletic facilities. Calgarians had long desired a large covered stadium, which could be used for ice hockey, as well as other sporting, musical, cultural, and convention events. This goal developed into a commitment that enabled Calgary to obtain a National Hockey League franchise and the right to sponsor the Winter Olympics. With the Olympic bid as a backdrop, the Calgary Flames, a professional ice-hockey team in the National Hockey League, began playing in 1980 (Hiller 1989). The franchise for the Flames was awarded in expectation that a new ice-hockey arena would be built.

Several options for locating the building were under consideration in 1980. The Calgary Exhibition and Stampede property in the inner city was the option favoured by CODA and the Stampede Board, the latter an elite Calgary group who ran this nonprofit organization as a joint-stock corporation (Campbell 1984; Gray 1985). The Calgary Exhibition and Stampede leased Stampede Park from the city and sponsored the famous Calgary Stampede, at which a host of events are held every summer. Unfortunately, the inner-city grounds were located next to Victoria Park, one of Calgary’s oldest and poorest neighbourhoods. This neighbourhood had a long and colourful history and was made up of wood-frame single-family houses. From the early 1960s on, it had provided some of Calgary’s most affordable housing, primarily in older single-family houses, many of which had been converted into rooming houses (COC 1980). The proximity of Victoria Park to the Stampede grounds provided for a long series of conflicts, primarily because of repeated Stampede expansion plans (COC 1980; Reid 1991/92; SOS 1992). For example, in 1968, City Council permitted the Stampede to expropriate eight city blocks of Victoria Park for expansion purposes.

In this context, and given that many of the promoters of the Winter Olympics were also on or linked to the Stampede Board, it was not surprising to hear expressions of support for situating the stadium next to Victoria Park, in the northern end of the Stampede grounds. Both CODA and the Stampede Board favoured this location. Debate raged in late 1980 and early 1981 over where to site the stadium. At the same time, the Olympic bid was being finalized with City Council. CODA, citizens’ groups, Victoria Park residents, and Stampede representatives all lobbied over the issue. During the course of debate, a split developed in the community. The Victoria Park Community Association categorically opposed siting the Saddledome on the Stampede grounds, whereas the Victoria Park Property Owners Association supported siting the Saddledome on the grounds, provided efforts were made by OCO to tie the Winter Olympics to a community-revitalization strategy (M. Giammarco, personal communication). At this time, the City Planning Department quickly produced a preliminary impact study, which acknowledged the difficulty in involving the community in the decision-making process, given the time frame. In 1981, as the date neared for submission of the Olympic bid, the siting issue was being considered by the city’s Development Appeal Board (DAB). The Victoria Park Community Association had gained access to the DAB via a Court of Queen’s Bench injunction (a court order). However, City Council convinced the provincial government to pass an order-in-council suspending city planning regulations and canceling the court order. This enabled the city to authorize siting the stadium next to Victoria Park. The mayor of Calgary suggested that there was a need to “demonstrate to the World Olympic Committee that Calgary was capable of hosting the Winter Olympics” (Campbell 1984, p. 118). The city, CODA, and the Stampede Board put an expedient end to the public deliberations, at the expense of local-community desires and participatory democracy.

Construction of the stadium proceeded at a fast pace in 1982 and was completed by the fall of 1983. The stadium cost $98 million (a 13% cost overrun) (OWGOC 1988) and is topped with a distinctive saddle-like roof, with arguable aesthetic and symbolic qualities. It seats about 20 000 people and is permanent home to the Calgary Flames ice-hockey team.

In 1984, an Area Redevelopment Plan (ARP) was developed and adopted by City Council for Victoria Park. This plan was an attempt to spur new private-sector residential development, in contrast to previous attempts at rehabilitation of existing dwellings (Reid 1991/92). The plan “detailed a vision of a neighbourhood with a significant commercial component and enough high density residential development to significantly further the City’s inner-city housing objectives” (SOS 1992).

Between 1984 and 1988, the plan had little impact on quality of life for Victoria Park residents (SOS 1992; M. Giammarco, personal communication). Indeed, people continued to move out of the community. Reasons (1984) noted that Victoria Park was hit hard by the siting of the stadium, with 1013 residents moving out in 1983, but he failed to detail the impacts. It is clear, though, that the population declined in the area. The population of Victoria Park East, where the main impacts of the Stampede were felt, was 2300 in 1976, 1 482 in 1980, and only 1 000 in 1990 — clear signs of out migration and negative change (COC 1977; Reid 1991/92). It should also be noted that the 1984 ARP was passed at the start of a 3-year worldwide recession, when little residential development took place anywhere in Canada.

Interestingly, a small sum of city capital ($22 000) was spent on “beautification” in the area before the Winter Olympics (COC 1988, p. 95). Houses on the main road through “the near slum district” of Victoria Park were painted to “spruce up” the area for tourists and athletes on their way to “our magnificent hockey arena” (King 1991). Houses off the main road were not painted. The revitalizatton initiative desired by the Victoria Park Property Owners Association in exchange for support of the Saddledome siting was not carried out (M. Giam-marco, personal communication). Instead, the community was left with “mementos” symbolizing the encroachment of the Winter Olympics, broken promises, and the age of spectacle.

The many forces acting on Victoria Park have created unstable conditions that give potential residential investors cause to worry. Why rehabilitate or move into a community seemingly on a gradual slide to nonexistence? In 1980, during the battle over the siting of the Saddledome, area residents stated (COC 1980, p. 51) the following:

For those who argue that the area is run-down and, therefore, has no future, we offer a simple fact: the community has never had the security of permanence long enough to allow proper development to occur. As long as the threat of expansion northward by the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede persists, Victoria Park has no chance to be rejuvenated.

Twelve years later, in response to a current Stampede Board Plan to demolish the entire Victoria Park community, Spirit of Stampede (1992, appendix A, p. 5) echoed the same concerns: “While it is true that a lack of new development has led to Victoria Park East becoming run-down, many believe that the underlying cause has been the ever-present threat of Stampede expansion.”

The community was exhausted by this continual struggle. It had been extremely difficult to resist the entire weight of the establishment and the strength of its political forces. Indeed, it had been impossible to appeal to the provincial government for assistance because of the interlinkage of local and provincial economic and political elites. As one area resident put it, powerful actors were behaving more in the manner of “secretive Eastern Bloc countries,” which have since fallen in their attempt to “destroy community” (M. Giammarco, personal communication) to satisfy their goals for the Stampede.

EVICTIONS FROM RENTAL APARTMENTS — As in other cities that have hosted hallmark events, tenants in Calgary were evicted from rental apartment units because landlords attempted to use the units for short-term economic gain. Moreover, the eviction process was specifically structured by the legal context. In Alberta, landlord and tenant laws strongly favoured the landlord. This bias effectively enabled and encouraged landlords to evict tenants when opportunity was perceived in the Winter Olympics.

In Calgary, most of the evictions appear to have occurred in two large apartment complexes: the Riverside Towers and the Point McKay Complex — a luxury apartment complex of two towers and one townhouse-style building near Canada Olympic Park. Units were temporarily rented to Winter Olympics visitors, and tenants were encouraged to move, although they had little option to do otherwise, given Alberta’s Landlord and Tenant Act. The owner of the towers devised a scheme to spend $1 million upgrading the towers to “provide entertainment and services for the upscale clientele of corporate and sports executives” (Martin 1987c, p. Bl). The president of Riverside Towers, Bart Messier, estimated that “Olympic month” would generate total revenue of about $9 million. To encourage tenants to move, an employee dressed as Santa Claus ran around handing out $1000 cheques (“vacation bonuses”) to some of the tenants and promised to rent the units to them once the Winter Olympics were over (Martin 1987c, p. Bl; M. Grey, personal communication).

In all, residents from 270 units were displaced from the towers, as were people living in 100 townhouse units. Given that on average at least two people live in a dwelling unit in Canada, it can be concluded that about 740 people were displaced because of event-related housing impacts. Some of the resident owners of the townhouses would have willingly moved given the financial incentives, as would some of the tenants. However, all of the tenants had no choice but to relocate. The owners of the complex had the power and the desire to cater to Winter Olympics visitors, who would be willing to pay large sums of money for temporary housing. Moreover, as Riverside Towers president Bart Messier stated, “this opportunity is not going to come again ... people have to realize how important it is to the city that we look after our guests” (Martin 1987c, Bl). The social pressure to contribute to the cause of the Winter Olympics, in tandem with a perceived financial opportunity, and the weak nature of the tenancy laws enabled the evictions to occur. As far as it can be ascertained, there was little resistance to the evictions. One tenant expressed moral indignation in the local newspaper over receiving a rent increase during this time (from $600 to $805), presumably to force the tenant to vacate the unit for the Winter Olympics guests, although she noted that it was “not illegal” (Martin 1987c, Bl).

Rocky Mountain Court is another example. In June 1987, residents living in 120 rental apartment units in Rocky Mountain Court received notice to vacate their units by November 1987, for 5 months. About 51 of the units where tenants received notice of eviction were subsidized by the Alberta Mortgage and Housing Corporation for lower income tenants (Martin 1987a). The Corporation agreed to let the owner of the building relocate tenants to other units in the building (Mitchell 1987; FMTA 1990). Most of the units were on the side of the building that faced Olympic Plaza, a public square used for daily Olympic medal ceremonies, fireworks, and other celebratory events.

The leasing of the units was arranged by OCO for eventual use by the Coca Cola Corporation and other Winter Olympics visitors (R. Ford, personal communication). The eviction letter sent to the tenants offered a variety of compensatory incentives, such as relocation, 1 month’s free rent, and moving costs. It was estimated that the owner of the building would be generating $5 000 per unit (or $1 million) for the period of the Winter Olympics, as opposed to rents in the range of several hundred dollars per unit. The landlord stated that about $500 000 was being spent on renovating and upgrading the building “for future tenants” (Martin 1987a).

Although offset by incentives, the requirement to move was a problem for many of the tenants. Comments by tenants included the following (Martin 1987b, p. Bl):

• “It seems like the same old thing that goes on with the Olympic sponsors .... They get the first choice. They’re taking my home away from me. The same thing happened in Vancouver with Expo.”

• “We weren’t given a choice.”

• “I put $250 down on some drapes already. I don’t know if I get that money back.”

• “I just moved in ... I didn’t want to move.”

Angry tenants met several days later in June to discuss their options. At this meeting, one of the tenants stated, “Everybody here is very upset. ... We’ve been looking forward to the Olympics because of our convenient location; we’ve bought tickets and now they’re kicking us out.” Another resident stated, “The Olympics should be brotherly love through world-wide competition and somehow this is not mentioned” (Svoboda 1987).

In contrast to the Riverside Towers case, the eviction notices at Rocky Mountain Court and the York Hotel (described below) generated a considerable amount of local-press coverage (the press was notified of the evictions by disgruntled tenants), as well as some consternation of local and provincial politicians and OCO officials. Initially, the mayor, Ralph Klein, attempted to use his status to create some pressure to resolve the issue as quickly as possible. Behind-the-scenes pressure was also put on the landlord by senior OCO and City of Calgary officials to resolve the issue as quickly as possible, even though OCO had no policy on the issue (B. Holmes, personal communication).

In the Rocky Mountain Court case, Klein expressed his unhappiness with the potential “black eye” the evictions might cause Calgary. He suggested that “if people are being forced out, it’s not the kind of thing we want to see happening. It’s bad for the city ... but if it is an equitable deal and by consent, then it’s OK by me” (Martin 1987b, p. Bl). The following day, the board of directors of OCO asked the provincial appointee to OCO to see what could be done to address the issue. Several days later, Elaine McCoy, ministry of Consumer and Corporate Affairs, announced the formation of a Ministerial Committee (“special investigation team”) to look at all Olympics-related housing complaints (Board 1987; J. Clouse, personal communication). The main aims of the committee were to act as an advisory and investigative body and to suggest ways to resolve any potential conflict in an “unbiased” manner (D. Luft, personal communication). The committee received 18 complaints in all from July to December 1987, and it “determined” that “only four” were related to the Winter Olympics (Cattaneo 1988). The committee disbanded in January 1988, stating that there were few problems to deal with.

In the end, after intervention in the matter by the Ministerial Committee and OCO officials, about 88 tenants moved from their suites in Rocky Mountain Court to satisfy the financial aims of the landlord. Of this total, 63 were relocated to other units in the building, and 25 moved out. The vice president of the apartment management company (Martin 1987a, p. Bl) “conceded many of the tenants [were] unhappy with the move, but said all but one accepted perks of free rent, moving allowances and packing assistance to pave the way for a corporate tenant occupancy during the Olympics.” The incentives helped the landlords “stay friends with our tenants,” he went on to state, adding “if we had them all mad at us and wanting to move out, we would have problems renting after the Olympics.”

EVICTIONS FROM A RESIDENTIAL HOTEL — Although in Calgary the scale of residential-hotel evictions was far less than in Vancouver, there were some. The York Hotel first tried to evict 75 tenants from 38 suites on three floors in November 1987. The mainly elderly and handicapped low-income tenants received a one-page “Dear Guest” letter notifying them that they would have to vacate their units by 31 December 1987. The owners of the hotel had made some arrangements with OCO a year earlier, in July 1986, to rent out 270 beds in the 38 units to the “Olympic family” (Donville and Haynes 1987; R. Sandrin-Litt, personal communication).

As in the case of Rocky Mountain Court, the press was contacted by disgruntled tenants, and the following day the story hit the front pages of Calgary’s major newspaper, the Calgary Herald. A number of initial tenant reactions to the eviction notice were covered in the paper (Donville and Haynes 1987, p. Al):

“I tell you it’s no fun moving, man, when you’re old. No fun at all. They’re pulling the same stunt they pulled in B.C. Someone must have offered them big money. OCO should be blamed too ... they should have let us know when they pulled off the contract.”

The manager of the hotel, James Lo, defended his decision to evict tenants on such notice, stating that all the tenants rented on a monthly basis, as at Rocky Mountain Court, and he was legally permitted to ask his tenants to move out (Donville and Haynes 1987).

The public nature of the controversy caused quick action on the part of OCO, particularly as the rooms were to be used by Winter Olympics guests. The following day, Ron Sandrin-Litt, OCO’s accommodation-service manager, publicly stated that the evictions were unnecessary and that he would rather see the rooms empty than have long-term tenants forcibly evicted. He went on to add (Lamb 1987, p. A2),

There’s no need to push it to the limit, and take up all of that building. It’s not a top priority. ... It seems to me that there’s plenty of room for compromise: we’re flexible and Lo should know that.

It is interesting to note that there was a floor occupied by female strippers working in the hotel, but they were not served eviction notices with the rest of the tenants, presumably because they generated income beyond rent for the hotel owners.

Apart from Sandrin-Litt’s public comments, OCO directors, local politicians, and the Ministerial Committee moved quickly to halt the controversy, ever wary of the Vancouver experience. They put behind-the-scenes pressure on the landlord through phone calls and a meeting to give the tenants the option of staying or leaving (B. Holmes, personal communication). Incentives were offered to tenants to move, much as in the Rocky Mountain case, and they were also told they would be relocated within the building to vacant suites, as some would be required to move (Warwick 1987, p. Bl). The promise was made not to force anyone out in the middle of a cold Alberta winter. Two days after the tenants received their notices, the issue was seemingly resolved, and the editorial pages of the Calgary Herald publicly praised the “diplomacy at the York” (Calgary Herald 1987, p. A4). In the end, various Calgary contacts suggested that only a handful (several dozen) of York Hotel tenants moved out or relocated within the York Hotel, with most taking advantage of the incentives offered to move.

EVICTIONS FROM STUDENT RESIDENCES — About 1450 students were displaced from their residences for about 2 months in 1988 because arrangements had been made to lease residence space at several Calgary educational institutions to the Olympic family.

The support of the University of Calgary was a critical component of the bid for the 1988 Winter Olympics, and indeed, it is unlikely that Calgary would have been chosen as host of the Games without the university’s commitment (Reasons 1984; P. Fraser, personal communication). Housing was the key component of the university’s contribution to the Winter Olympics. Having all of the athletes in one locale facilitates effective planning for security and transportation. Although university planners knew alternative arrangements would have to be made for the displaced students who were living in the housing and attending classes, they felt that the university (and the students) would gain in the long term (P. Fraser, personal communication).

The commitment was made to use student residences in 1978, and students had been receiving notice in their residence application forms of the impending plans since 1984. But not until 1986, with the Winter Olympics approaching fast, did the displacement become a political issue (during the course of a local election). This concern came out during a press conference, on 10 October 1986, when student leaders charged the mayor, Ralph Klein, with “passing the buck to OCO officials who don’t seem interested in protecting the thousands of student renters who will lose their homes to athletes and tourists” (Calgary Herald, 1986, p. B2). Concerns were raised about the stress of moving at mid-term in their educational programs.

Various officials made public commitments to deal with the students’ concerns, although university officials noted they were addressing such issues from the start of the Winter Olympics planning phase. A reversal of the student-housing commitment was never considered. Instead, the university developed initiatives such as the Adopt a Student Program and moving assistance, to be “fair” to the students (P. Fraser, personal communication).

At the University of Calgary, 1 000 students were displaced, and about 87% of these returned on completion of the Winter Olympics, 2 months later in March (P. Fraser, personal communication). University housing authorities felt that these students were assisted “as much as possible” (P. Fraser, personal communication) during this period and that they would benefit in the long term because of the many university legacies, including sporting facilities, as well as the construction of 300 new housing units, which were effectively paid off because of the Olympic contribution. The eviction of the University of Calgary students was clearly a disruption to the class of 1988. Several expressed unhappiness with the temporary move (Mate 1988). They paid the costs for the significant long-term university gain and for the financial gain of subsequent students, even though they were not financially compensated.

As in the University of Calgary case, students at one other Calgary educational institution were temporarily evicted to make way for people associated with the Winter Olympics. The Southern Alberta Institute of Technology leased its entire student residence for the period of 1 January 1988 to 3 March 1988. This 22-story building had 491 beds (for students) in 204 apartments. In the end, a legacy fund of $1 million was left because of this arrangement, and the interest it generates is used for housing improvements. Once the decision was made to lease the building, the students’ association was involved in negotiations over what would be done to lesson the disruptive effects of the displacement. Students also discussed the issue with University of Calgary student-residence organizations. Some assistance was made to locate alternative accommodation, and the students were permitted to move back into their suites once the Winter Olympics were over (Cattaneo 1988; N. Collin, personal communication).

Community action and impact: the critical factors

As noted above, in describing the housing impacts of the Calgary Winter Olympics, community resistance to such impacts had little effect. The most significant resistance was expressed in Victoria Park. This resistance, as noted above and as noted by Reid (1991, 1991/92), evolved, fractured, ebbed, and flowed over many years of struggle after the 1965 decision to maintain the Stampede site next to Victoria Park, instead of moving it to a suburban location. The event-related impacts of the Winter Olympics marked the beginning of the end for Victoria Park. Although resident action took many forms and extracted some compromises, such as the scaling down of initial plans to widen the gateway street to the Saddledome and Stampede grounds, they were unsuccessful in halting the construction of the Saddledome — the guarantor of future encroachment and possible destruction of the neighbourhood. Why?

A variety of factors prevented community action from achieving its aims. The factors were interrelated, and they reflected the nature of power, government, and economy in Calgary. The Stampede, as noted above, and as noted by Campbell (1984), was perceived by many to be a very important component of Calgary’s tourism industry. Moreover, the Stampede had important cultural significance to the citizens and elites of Calgary, although Reid (1991/92) and Spirit of Stampede (1992) both noted how the cultural significance of the Stampede had been distorted by the Stampede Board. Regardless, the Stampede was partnered with the Winter Olympics, an event of international significance. The perceived benefits of these events for Calgary created enough impetus that their organizers (mainly the same people at senior levels) rammed through with their plans regardless of community resistance from the Victoria Park Community Association. Simply put, the goals of a relatively powerless, low-income residential community had little hope of being achieved in opposition to one of the perceived engines of economic and cultural significance in Calgary, in conjunction with a spectacle of international scale. Contributing factors to the powerlessness of Victoria Park included historical uncertainty over its future, as outlined above, and a split within the community between the property owners and the community association about whether the Winter Olympics could be used for the benefit of the community.

In the two cases of people being evicted from rental apartments and a residential hotel, tenants expressed some individual unhappiness with the moves to evict them, but this did not lead to any significant individual or collective action. There appear to be five main reasons for the acquiescence. First, as noted above, landlords in Alberta were legally permitted to evict tenants, and people living in residential hotels had virtually no rights to protection from eviction or rent increases. The legal sanction of such actions legitimized eviction and displacement. Protests against evictions had no effective basis. Indeed, it was quite likely that the only reason even these minor expressions of unhappiness received public attention was that they could be linked to the Winter Olympics. The state sanctioned the abuse of the human right to housing in Alberta.

Second, landlords offered tenants a variety of incentives to move — financial and otherwise. Given tenants had no legal protection, these incentives were perceived to be a bonus. Apart from the tenants’ organization representative, numerous people in Calgary interviewed for this study felt that the offer of incentives to ease the stresses of relocation ameliorated the problem. The general impression was that tenants did not have anything to complain about if given financial and other incentives. Although some people expressed genuine concern about the welfare of the tenants, the majority of people rejected the tenants’ fundamental right to housing. The tenants were effectively treated as cattle.

Third, social pressure to contribute to the Winter Olympics was, in both positive and negative ways, common in Calgary in 1987 and 1988. Spectacles of this type are designed to create a euphoria that draws people along, enabling them to feel that they are part of the venture. Thousands of volunteers contributed to the Calgary Winter Olympics, hosting visitors, directing people, cleaning sites, etc. (King 1991; Holmes 1992). In a strange way, many people perceived the evictees as also “doing their part” for the Winter Olympics.

Fourth, vacancy rates were relatively high in Calgary in 1987 and 1988. Evicted tenants perceived alternative options when they were forced to move. Had vacancy rates been low, it is safe to speculate that more resistance would have been expressed.

Fifth, tenants in Calgary (and throughout Alberta) rarely organize in a collective manner, and organization is important when dealing with such political issues.

Toronto — the bid for the 1996 Summer Olympics

Although Toronto was not awarded the 1996 Summer Olympics, housing issues (including the possibility of forced evictions) were key community concerns in public deliberations over the bid. As such, the case is worth briefly examining, as it provides insights for other communities seeking to address such matters.

The Toronto context

With more than 3.5 million people, Toronto is Canada’s largest city. It has a long history of being on the leading edge of economic and cultural transformations in the Canadian context. The city is Canada’s main destination point for immigrants from around the world, the centre of economic power, and home to many of the country’s cultural and media intelligentsia.

For much of the 20th century, until the late 1970s, Toronto was Canada’s manufacturing powerhouse. Most of the wage labour force worked in factories, steel mills, and garment-production sweatshops. However, the city has been hit by two major recessions and suffered the loss of much of its manufacturing base (Lemon 1991). The quaternary sector (including producer services, such as accounting and banking) had been growing at an incredible rate but not enough to offset the blue-collar job losses (COT 1991). Concurrent growth in the low-paying service sector effectively transformed Toronto into a city of extremes of wealth, lifestyle, and housing choice. Housing costs in Toronto came to be among the highest in Canada, and in 1992 the number of homeless had grown to more than 25 000, with 80 000 people depending on food banks and 200 000 living in substandard housing (Borowy 1992). Large tracts of former industrial and waterfront land became available for redevelopment, and pressures existed to transform these inner-city sites into new commercial and residential communities to satisfy demand for office and residential space, although there was considerable debate about the composition of these projects (Beazley 1991). The Olympic bid included plans to use many of these sites for various facilities.

The Toronto bid for the 1996 Summer Olympics

In 1984, Los Angeles hosted the Summer Olympics. In April 1985, the president of the Los Angeles organizing committee, Peter Ueberroth, came to Toronto and gave a speech about the benefits of hosting such an event. Paul Henderson, self-made millionaire (plumbing) and former Olympic athlete (sailing) was present at that speech, and it renewed a dream he had had since the 1960s of bringing such an international spectacle to Canada’s largest city (Palomba 1990). Henderson collaborated with several corporate colleagues in the marketing and communications industries, and they quickly formed the Toronto-Ontario Olympic Council (TOOC) (Dale 1987). In 1985, the City of Toronto appointed TOOC to prepare a bid for the 1996 Summer Olympics. TOOC received financial and in-kind support from the private sector to prepare the bid.

In August 1986, TOOC released Toronto as Host to the 100th Anniversary Olympics: A Feasibility Study (TOOC 1986). This feasibility study formed the basis for subsequent documents preparatory to the final bid document, which was approved by City Council in April 1990. In the feasibility study, and in all subsequent TOOC documents, the main selling points for hosting the Summer Olympics included

• The opportunity to improve existing sports facilities;

• The opportunity to develop legacies in the form of new sports facilities and an ongoing legacy fund;

• The potential economic benefits (direct and induced);

• The international profile the city would gain;

• The opportunity to use the games to spur development in former industrial and waterfront areas of the city;

• The construction jobs that would be generated;

• The opportunity to attract funding from the federal government; and

• The spectacle of the games itself.

In the end, the bid for the 1996 Summer Olympics cost about $17 million, with $5.5 million coming from the provincial and federal governments and the rest coming from the private sector. The actual budget for the Summer Olympics was estimated by TOOC at $1.053 billion for expenditures and $1.063 billion for revenues, although City of Toronto officials noted that direct and indirect expenditures and revenues would be about $2.52 billion and $2.43 billion, leaving a deficit of $90 million (Coutts and Polanyi 1990). The Toronto bid depended on receiving $125 million from the provincial government and at least $60 million from the federal government (Coutts and Polanyi 1990).

The final bid presented to the IOC had the events staged at a number of facilities throughout the metropolitan region, although many of the high-profile facilities were to be in the City of Toronto itself. The recently constructed Skydome, a domed stadium in the inner city, was to be the site of the opening ceremonies and many of the track and field competitions. The story behind the Skydome is a lengthy one, but it is worth noting that it was originally projected to cost about $130 million and ended up costing more than $580 million, leaving the provincial taxpayers responsible for some $440 million. Such debacles are increasingly common in North America as cities become infatuated with monumentality, “world classism,” and intercity competitiveness.

The central waterfront and railway lands were also to be used. The Athletes Village was to be constructed directly west of the Skydome, and more than 3 200 new units were to be built. Afterward, the Toronto Olympic Commitment directed these units to be 100% “affordable” and 60% social housing, using the provincial definition of affordable housing (COT 1989b). The Media Village of 2 500 new units was to be constructed in the Ataratiri area of the city. Ataratiri units were also to be used as affordable housing, following the games. It is important to note, however, that the Ataratiri redevelopment plans were shelved in 1992 because of excessive clean-up costs, owing to the toxicity of the soils of this former industrial area (Mclnnes 1992).

The nonhousing legacies of the Summer Olympics were to include a $125 million Olympic stadium, $60 million aquatic centre, $20 million rowing course, $8 million velodrome, $145 million upgrading to various facilities, and $257 million worth of other sports facilities, scattered throughout the Greater Toronto Area (Coutts and Polanyi 1990).

Before continuing, it is important to note one more background detail. Between August 1986 and April 1990, when the final bid document was approved by the City of Toronto for presentation to the IOC, some significant changes took place in the composition of Toronto City Council. Following city elections in November 1988, a larger number of “moderate reformers” and New Democratic Party members (social democrats) were elected, rather than “conservatives.” These changes affected how housing issues were handled, with more emphasis placed on attempting to leverage affordable housing out of the Olympic bid, facilitate public-participation processes, and address potential social impacts, such as evictions.

Housing rights and the legal framework in Toronto

As in the previous two cases, regulations affecting the rights and obligations of tenants and landlords in Toronto fell under provincial jurisdiction. There is no need to go into the intricacies of Ontario’s complex landlord and tenant law, but it is important to note that Ontario had Canada’s most tenant-protective housing laws in Canada. Relations between landlord and tenant were affected by three Acts: the Landlord and Tenant Act, the Rental Housing Protection Act, and the Residential Rent Regulation Act. In June 1998, this legislation was reformed under the single Tenant Protection Act. In very general terms, tenants are protected by law from discrimination (for example, race), exorbitant rent increases, and arbitrary eviction. Rooming-house tenants, boarders, and lodgers are theoretically protected as well. Moreover, local government had traditionally been more proactive in Ontario in the creation of some laws that augment or contribute to provincial housing law. However, it should also be noted that key provincial and municipal laws had many gaps and inadequacies (FMTA 1990). Protection also depended on the forcefulness with which the government implemented its laws, as well as the degree of knowledge each tenant had of his or her rights under the law.

The incorporation of housing and eviction concerns into the bid process

As briefly noted, housing issues were key components of the Toronto bid for the 1996 Summer Olympics. The bid was designed to leave some permanent housing legacies, although it should also be noted that the final plans fell far short of community demands. This section describes and analyzes how housing issues (the potential for evictions in particular) were incorporated into the bid process.

The potential for evictions related to the Summer Olympics in Toronto was a topic of focus from the start of the bid process, although sharp differences emerged about the potential for actual impacts. In its 1986 feasibility study, TOOC (1986, p. V-1 1) suggested that “residential displacement is not a likelihood in Toronto” because of the “increased awareness” of the issue after the Expo ‘86 eviction crisis and because

Toronto has a highly-developed and growing accommodation base, and the short term influx of tourists to participate in the Olympic festivities would not provide a sufficient profit potential to encourage displacement. Public awareness of this potential problem should result in the articulation of a public policy on this issue.

It was not until late 1988–early 1989 that the issue of forced evictions received a surge of attention. The explanation for this is threefold. First, during the time of bid preparations, Toronto was experiencing its worst affordable-housing crisis in its history. Moreover, this crisis peaked at about the same time (1989–90) that key bid components were being decided on. Local citizens and most politicians of a variety of political perspectives began to worry about the potential of the Summer Olympics to exacerbate these trends. Housing, tenants’, and legal-aid organizations, such as the FMTA, Metro Tenants’ Legal Services, and community organizations such as the Parkdale Tenants Association, became very worried about the potential for negative social impacts, such as evictions. Second, local community groups and some civic politicians were becoming impatient with the perceived closed-shop mentality of TOOC organizers. Ironically, this frustration spurred these groups to action. Third, the Bread Not Circuses Coalition (BNCC) was formed in February 1989. A diverse variety of organizations in the anti-poverty, women’s, labour, arts, and social-services movements came together to oppose mega-project mania in Toronto (BNCC 1990). BNCC’s main point was that “we believe that the first priority should be on the real needs of people — affordable housing, a decent income, good jobs, child care, an accessible city, clean and safe neighborhoods, affordable recreation and popular culture.” This organization became very active in a high-profile manner and forced TOOC and various levels of government to address a wide array of issues, including housing and eviction issues, which in turn consumed “unexpected resources” (P. Henderson, personal communication).

Between the summer of 1989 and April 1990, a frantic flurry of lobbying, research, coalition-building, protest, and media coverage occurred as community groups, local government, and politicians all became involved in deliberations about the issue. In very general terms, the most important activities in this period are noted below.

TTHE CITY OF TORONTO — The City of Toronto set up a Committee of Department Heads Olympic Task Force because City Council had felt excluded from much of the bid-preparation process, and it wanted to ensure that city goals were incorporated into the final bid document. The head of the Task Force was appointed to TOOC, as well, in order to facilitate greater city involvement. The Task Force was to address a wide range of issues, including finance, environmental impacts, public-involvement processes, and housing impacts.

The Task Force, in conjunction with civic politicians, drafted the Toronto Olympic Commitment. This document, approved in September 1989, was a set of principles

that embodies the spirit of the Olympic movement. ... The Toronto Olympic Commitment was adopted by Toronto City Council to ensure that if Toronto were awarded the Games, we would plan and stage an equitable, affordable Olympics that would leave a lasting legacy for all Canadians.

There were five main categories of commitment: social equity, environment, financial guarantees, a healthy Olympics, and jobs and the Olympics. Housing concerns fell under the social-equity category, and a commitment was made to ensure that existing residents were not displaced because of visitors to the games. The Toronto Olympic Commitment was developed after pressure was exerted on City Council by some local political and community leaders, who recognized the potential for significant negative impacts. In contrast, TOOC, and Paul Henderson in particular, felt that this commitment was one more needless “political,” “unnecessary and troublesome” interjection into the efficient preparation of the Olympic bid (P. Henderson, personal communication; P. Berck, personal communication). It should also be noted that the Toronto Olympic Commitment was a policy document; as with most policy documents, implementation of each policy was or would be carried out with varying degrees of success.

Following on from the Toronto Olympic Commitment, a wide variety of city activities occurred in this period:

• The City of Toronto Housing and Properties Department hired a consultant to conduct research on the housing impacts of hallmark events in other cities. The consultant reported back with findings and recommendations for the city Task Force. These recommendations were used to develop a tenant protection and tourist accommodation strategy. The tenant-protection component of the plan dealt with rooming and boarding houses; private rental accommodation; low-income residents in hotels; and emergency housing. The consultant shared information with the person conducting a similar study for the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Association (FMTA) (see below). After both studies came out in January 1990, the city’s plans were improved with the input of the FMTA study and the comments of various interested parties. An affordable housing group of bureaucrats from various city departments was formed as well. In March 1990, work on the City’s tenant-protection and tourist-accommodation plan was put on hold until September, when the final decision of the IOC was made.

• A consultant was hired to design a public-involvement process so that a wide range of issues could be addressed. Public meetings were held on housing issues, and community representatives discussed the potential for evictions.

• A consultant prepared a preliminary social-impact assessment report, which included a section on potential housing impacts.

• The city approved the provision of $110 000 of intervenor funding to allow groups to (COT 1989a) “participate more meaningfully in the discussion and evaluation of the Bid, and that the Committee of Heads Olympic Task Force report on the implementation of this commitment.” A wide variety of nonprofit organizations applied for funding from the city to finance a short-term research project on various areas of concern (for example, the environment, multicultural issues, housing). Twenty groups applied for funding, and 8 had their applications approved, including 2 housing organizations — FMTA and the Supportive Housing Coalition (SHC). A third group (Women Plan Toronto) addressed housing, as well as one component of a multicomponent report written from the perspective of women. Ironically, it was active community lobbying, most notably from the BNCC, which led to city support for intervenor funding. However, BNCC’s proposal was not funded, as the city decided the money should only be allocated to groups that were committed to improving the bid, not halting it.

• Various city politicians (including the mayor) and senior government officials worked to ensure that the housing units constructed for the Athletes Village and the Media Village would be used to provide affordable housing after the games. This was designed to meet housing needs while convincing or pressuring people with power to support the Olympic bid — basically “what is your social price to support the Games?” (M. Melling, personal communication; T. Greer, personal communication). In the end, the final housing component was reached after hundreds of hours of negotiation, lobbying, and last-minute ultimatums between politicians and officials from all levels of government, TOOC officials, crown corporations, housing advocates, and others. The final bid was supposed to result in 1000 additional provincial housing units (at a $150 million cost), creating in all 5 700 units in 6 years (2 500 units on the Ataratiri lands and 3 200 units on the Railway lands). This plan was to act as a catalyst, or “fast-tracking” mechanism, which would enable housing units to be built earlier than they might be otherwise. However, the plan was riddled with weaknesses, including the fact that the Railway lands were owned by a Crown corporation (Canadian National Rail Co.) and negotiations were not finalized. It was also unclear where all the funds would come from to construct these units and buy the land, and a plan to clean up the environmental contaminants on the Ataratiri lands was not in place.

Also in this period, the community engaged in activities in response to the Toronto Olympic Commitment:

• A variety of housing, tenant and neighbourhood organizations became involved in an array of activities related to housing issues, including research, lobbying, decision-making, and consultation, with other community organizations and groups like BNCC. Throughout this period, the groups mulled over and fluctuated in terms of what their response should be to the Olympic bid. Some thought the Summer Olympics could be leveraged to extract long-term positive benefits in terms of affordable housing. Others thought the games’ costs outweighed potential benefits. For example, the FMTA met frequently to debate the bid and their stance on it, eventually supporting the bid, provided a range of protective actions for tenants were carried out. Opposition to the bid was consistently expressed in Parkdale, a lower income inner-city community (much like Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside), with a high proportion of tenants and people living in rooming houses. The Parkdale Tenants’ Association and Parkdale Community Legal Services felt the games would only exacerbate already inadequate housing conditions.

• Some of the community groups applied for and were awarded the intervenor funding noted above to conduct research on the potential impacts of the games. FMTA produced a detailed 46-page report (The 1996 Olympic Bid Proposal and Tenant Protection[FMTA 1990]) outlining every possible negative impact the games might have on tenants. The author, Jeff Clark, examined the experiences of other cities with hallmark events (including Calgary, Seoul, and Vancouver). He developed 26 recommendations for various levels of government regarding issues, including enforcement, public education, political leadership, landlord and tenant law, resources, and relocation. He also addressed the potential long-term impacts of the games on housing and neighbourhoods, in terms of the increased potential for gentrification, the need for long-term solutions to the affordable-housing problem, etc. The SHC, comprising eight nonprofit housing organizations, conducted a detailed study, as did WPT. Following release of the “intervenor reports,” as they came to be known, other groups such as FMTA met with City of Toronto housing planners to clarify the groups’ concerns about the potential impacts of the games and to outline solutions to these concerns. FMTA, SHC, and WPT also lobbied civic politicians to act on the findings of their reports.

• BNCC developed a multipronged approach — set the agenda, stop the corporate mega-projects, and force TOOC, various levels of government, and the general public to consider the negative consequences of sponsoring the games. BNCC sought to transform the public discourse over the hallmark-event bid to make it include a serious focus on social issues, rather than the narrowly defined corporate agenda. A community strategy and a political strategy were developed to act at a variety of levels (Shapcott 1991). Activities varied over time, and included in-depth research and documentation of various aspects of the bid process; the impacts of hallmark events in other cities; the bid document; the perceived narrow and antidemocratic attitude of TOOC organizers; lobbying efforts directed at politicians, government officials, TOOC officials, the media, and IOC members; coalition-building with community groups in other bidding cities (for example, Melbourne) and within Toronto; and public protests.

BNCC’s budget was less than $20000 (as opposed to about $17 million for TOOC), and it was forced to rely on volunteer time and resources. Women played a significant role in the formulation and implementation of BNCC’s strategy.

THE DECISION — After the climax of a period of frenzied lobbying, on 12 April 1990 Toronto City Council voted 12 to 4 in favour of the bid to the IOC (M. Melling, personal communication). The period between April and September was relatively uneventful, as most interested parties awaited the IOC’s decision. TOOC, of course, was lobbying IOC voting members during this period. BNCC was active as well, and it devoted its attention and resources to lobbying IOC members to turn the Toronto bid down.

In September 1990, IOC Board members met in Tokyo to make the decision about which city to select to host the 1996 Summer Olympics. TOOC and senior City of Toronto officials and politicians were in Tokyo, as were two members of BNCC. The BNCC members conducted some last-minute lobbying and protests to highlight their opposition to the games coming to Toronto. In the end, the IOC chose Atlanta to host the games. Subsequent press coverage in Toronto was fairly critical of the BNCC action, and this organization, along with several local politicians became scapegoats for the loss of the games. Indeed, Paul Henderson, president and chief executive officer of TOOC, stated that BNCC’s opposition was one of the major factors in the loss, and he has maintained such criticism of the group to this day. Henderson feels that the group is a “vociferous minority” that created the illusion of public antagonism to the idea of a Toronto-hosted games (P. Henderson, personal communication). However, subsequent analysis of the bid conducted by the Ontario Ministry of Tourism and Recreation (OMTR 1991) suggested that there were dozens of weaknesses in the Toronto bid process and in the efforts of the people representing TOOC. In particular, the report suggested that TOOC did not involve the community in meaningful discourse and it noted that “it was virtually unanimous that it is critical to involve the community at large in honest discussion on the bid as early in the process as possible” (OMTR 1991, p. 10).

Community action and impact: the critical factors

Community action on potential for event-related evictions was critical to the significant attention devoted to the subject in Toronto (particularly compared with the Calgary and Vancouver cases). A diverse range of community-based groups ensured that the subject was addressed by City of Toronto officials and politicians and TOOC officials through the wide range of activities described above. This strategic, energetic, and continuous pressure, combined with important support from certain empathetic political and bureaucratic actors at the local and provincial levels, led to relatively enlightened policies on the issue. At a deeper contextual level, key forces that led to this situation included the context of an affordable-housing crisis, with public awareness of housing issues, a history of (again, on a relative basis) general support for tenants’ rights and the human right to housing, and a history of tenant activism to secure these rights. Simply put, the capacity existed within the community to force the issue of housing concerns (including forced evictions) onto the bid agenda from a community perspective.

Although many differing viewpoints were offered on the ultimate impacts of community action regarding the Olympic bid (and the potential for evictions in particular), it is clear that groups such as BNCC, FMTA, and the Parkdale Tenants Association forced the city and TOOC to address social concerns in a more concerted manner than they would have done otherwise. By raising legitimate concerns over social issues, such as housing, the community probably caused or significantly contributed to

• Significant public discourse about the social costs of staging hallmark events in Toronto;

• The creation and adoption of the Toronto Olympic Commitment;

• Greater awareness of weaknesses within existing landlord and tenant legislation; and

• Future awareness of the importance of honestly involving the community in deliberations about the major plans for Toronto that affect people.


Housing rights in the face of the hallmark event?

In these three cases, and as recognized in a growing literature (for example, Hall 1992), the hallmark event acts as a spotlight, signifying the nature of politics and economics in contemporary urban (re)development processes. Currently in vogue, the hallmark event is being used as a mechanism to restructure the city, creating, among other things, a strong potential for massive numbers of forced evictions. These negative social impacts negate the principle of the right to housing. Housing rights are really one component of a much larger right: the right to the city. These events make the right to the city even less accessible than in regular development circumstances, owing to a variety of features.

The following features, outlined below, must be addressed by community groups in their struggles:

1. Hallmark events can lever major quantities of senior government and private capital that might not otherwise come to a city or region. The promise of substantial legacies in the form of stadiums, roadways, new recreational facilities and new housing are difficult to evaluate, given the time compression of a hallmark-event bid process. This is a similar factor affecting the debate about sports franchises and stadium construction.

2. Because the hallmark event has a component of national and international imagery, local citizens, politicians, and business leaders feel that their-names and reputations are on the line. Consequently, they are willing to accommodate heavy demands and to initiate their own actions, which they would not do in a nonhallmark context. For example, debt will be accumulated via the fast-tracking of major projects, “unsightly scenes” (according to the aesthetic standards of international travelers and business people), such as slums, will be eliminated or hidden from view, and previous disagreements about approaches or policies will be resolved or delayed until the event has finished. However, community groups and tenant activists can use this concern with a city’s international image to put issues before the public eye via the media. In this manner, they may force the city to resolve the issue quickly to quell fears of a negative image or “black eye.”

3. The sport or exhibition nature of a hallmark event can pull together disparate interests and present the illusion of consensus. It is common to see parties with diverse ideological interests collaborate because it is simply required when a major event must be planned, developed, and operated in a compressed time frame. The organizers of the event (usually corporate and political elites) recognize this quality and use it to propel their goals for urban-development planning in a context in which it is difficult to openly evaluate these plans, owing to time constraints. Diversity and disagreement cannot help but be masked in such circumstances, and it takes extraordinary skill, planning, and power to resist or seek fundamental post-bid changes in the planned event.

4. The sites chosen for hallmark events are often in the inner city, owing to the long-term redevelopment goals for the area of the event sponsors. Because sponsors perceive these areas as needing “revitalization” because of “poor” housing conditions, low land values, and low numbers of resident middle-class people residing in the area, such plans often create negative social impacts for existing residents. These residents suffer these impacts because of their generally weak political power.

5. The large-scale and multiyear nature of the hallmark event requires the long-term involvement of hundreds of governmental agencies, businesses, and nonprofit organizations and the expenditure of hundreds of millions to billions of dollars. Moreover, the impacts of hallmark events may vary in nature and scale and occur over several years, beginning with the bid process. Consequently, it becomes extremely difficult for community groups to address issues of concern, such as potential housing impacts and evictions. These three case studies suggest that community groups must be extremely well organized and expend considerable resources to have any significant impact. When resources are limited (for example, BNCC had a limited budget of only $20000), strategic planning, coalition-building, and task-sharing are requisite to any success. It is very important to act as quickly as possible when the bid-preparation phase is under way. If a bid is approved, time effectively collapses, and the pace of event planning quickens, consuming resources at a rapid pace.

Housing impacts, including forced evictions, should be viewed as an expected result of this form of restructuring, as it is not centred around “people-in-place” development (Boothroyd and Knight 1990); rather, the dominant state and private-sector goals are to bring new people, new facilities, and new money to cities at a rapid pace, and this goal is rarely evaluated in an open, democratic manner. Such development plans need to be critically examined in a time frame that permits all potentially affected groups to participate on an equitable basis.


That mass, forced evictions occur in a wealthy and democratic country such as Canada may be a surprise to some readers in countries facing more severe housing problems. Some may also feel that, on a relative basis, the problems faced in the Canadian cases were insignificant. However, it should be noted that hundreds to thousands of evictions occur across Canada every day, that these primarily take place in individual cases, and tenants usually have no feasible option but to accept the action and deal with the negative consequences. Indirect economic eviction occurs as well, as rental housing becomes too expensive to rent, and people are forced to move. The Canadian cases are interesting in that they highlight the fact that the act of eviction is connected to underlying economic, political, and social structures and mechanisms. Forced evictions can occur in any country, regardless of national wealth, degree of political democracy, or the amount of housing-rights rhetoric, if the deeper structures and mechanisms force people to live under precarious conditions.

In Canada, the only secure way to achieve the right to housing is to buy it, providing you have access to the capital! Yet, all Canadians are supposed to enjoy the human right to housing. Canada adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, with its specific reference to housing rights, and the concept is part of our 1973 National Housing Act. Moreover, Canada has signed other international declarations, covenants and conventions, recognizing housing rights (Hulchanski 1989a). However, as noted in all of the case studies, there can be a critical gap between the mere proclamation of the right to housing and the actual attempt to implement it.

On a final, optimistic note, the Toronto case suggested that this gap can be narrowed in some circumstances. The critical prerequisite for any action on housing rights issues is the presence of an organized, strategic, and resourceful coalition of community-based groups with the capacity to analyze complex situations, act forcefully at a variety of levels, and use diverse strategies to take advantage of key opportunities to achieve their goals. This is particularly true when dealing with issues surrounding the planning of the hallmark event, a spectacle that compounds and amplifies existing conditions for better and for worse.


This study would not have been possible without the generous assistance of many people. I would particularly like to thank Michael Beazley, Peter Boothroyd, Jan Borowy, Calvin Brook, Jim Green, Paul Henderson, David Hulchanski, Aprodocio Laquian, Michael Leaf, David Ley, Michael Melling, Colin Michael Hall, Michael Shapcott, John Shayler, Laura Stannard, and Mary-Kate Tews. Thanks also go to Enrique Ortiz of HIC and Denise Deby and Patricia McCarney of the International Development Research Centre.

This page intentionally left blank

Chapter 2

Alfredo Rodriguez and Ana Maria Icaza1

Centro de Estudios Sociales y Educación, Santiago, Chile


The municipality of Santiago is one of the 34 administrative sectors that make up Greater Santiago: 32 municipalities of Santiago province, plus the municipality of Puente Alto of Cordillera province and the municipality of San Bernardo of Maipo province, both of which are physically and socioeconomically integrated parts of Santiago (CED 1990).

The municipality of Santiago, the administrative and financial centre of the city, saw a continuous loss of population in recent decades. In 1952, almost half of the population of the city of Santiago lived in the central municipality; in 1960, only one-third; and in 1970, one-fifth. This tendency followed the loss of population in the municipality of Santiago. People in the high- and middle-income sectors chose to reside in the communities in the eastern section of the city, near the cordillera. In contrast, the poor of the central area were slowly pushed out to the peripheral areas, with a corresponding negative impact on their access to urban goods and services.

The aims of this study were to (1) explain some of the processes of eviction of the poor sectors from the central to the peripheral areas; (2) analyze the impact of a relocation program on the affected families; (3) describe the obstacles to attempts to maintain population in the downtown area; and (4) sketch out some recommendations and proposals to help keep the poor sectors in the central area of the city, as well as to diminish the negative impacts of eviction in those cases in which it is inevitable.

1 With the collaboration of Iván Bonilla, Maritza Mayo, and Carmen Barrera.

Historical background

Studies done in the 1950s indicated that more than 80% of the poor sectors of the population of Santiago were concentrated in the central area of the city. Santiago was also experiencing its highest rates of growth, as a result of migration mostly from rural areas. Housing was found only in precarious settlements near the Ma-pocho river and comprised only conventillos or cités. (In Chile, conventillos are old houses in poor condition that have been subdivided and rented to many families. Cités are groups of one- or two-room houses, usually connected by a block-long interior passageway.)

In the late 1950s and during the 1960s, this panorama was radically modified. By the end of the 1960s, almost 80% of the poor population was living in the northern and southern peripheral areas of the city, not in the central area. Different government interventions influenced the movement of the poor sectors from a preferential-central location to a peripheral one. In the late 1950s, there were massive evictions, with strong government intervention; and on this occasion, more than 20 000 families living in conventillos and precarious settlements in or around the central area were moved to the southern peripheral area.

The 1960s marked the beginning of important renovation programs (again with strong government intervention) for the central area of the city. These programs sought to increase the density of some central areas, with the construction of highly subsidized housing units, destined for middle-class sectors. However, in time, most of these complexes came to be used for nonresidential purposes (offices).

In the 1970s, the government began to develop numerous social-housing programs for low-income sectors. These programs were located in peripheral areas, as a result of the low cost of land there. For low-income central-area residents, these programs represented practically their only way of having access to housing and their only solution in the face of eviction.

During the first half of the 1980s, state and municipal agencies intervened in all the campamentos that had been in the Santiago metropolitan area since the land invasions that occurred, mostly in 1969 and the early 1970s. (Campamentos are precarious settlements on vacant public or private lots. This type of housing is constructed of wood panels or scrap materials. There are no sanitary facilities, and the division of the lots is absolutely irregular, defined by the occupants themselves.) This intervention represented the transfer of families from these settlements to outlying areas, as well as the regularization of the campamentos through the delivery of property titles and the provision of services for those who remained. In the central area, this intervention resulted in the transfer of almost all the families residing in the campamentos.

Relocation of poor families from the centre to the periphery had been a ongoing process, a result in great part of a lack of government regulations and of any means to rehabilitate deteriorated housing. This housing became practically uninhabitable, hence the eviction orders.

In general terms, these interventions fundamentally sought the modernization and redevelopment of the central area, with the purpose of attracting and retaining commercial activities (offsetting their tendency to locate in other municipalities) and creating conditions to make the central area more attractive as a place of residence for middle- and high-income sectors.

Nevertheless, a study conducted by Centro de Estudios Sociales y Educación in 1986 (Necochea and Icaza 1990) showed that as a result of factors such as status and the quality of environment, the high- and middle-income sectors did not favour the central area. For the poor sectors, on the other hand, the central area provided more services, the best access to sources of work, and increased capacity to satisfy their needs. They were close to the municipality and valued their contact with neighbours and the security the neighbourhood offered.

Despite their preference for living in the central area, the poor residents were greatly disadvantaged in achieving this goal because of their lack of ability to negotiate it. Traditionally, poor central-area residents had shown a low level of organization, compared with residents of other areas of the city. In a large part, this was due to their status: in most cases they rented, subleased, or maintained other noncontractual forms of occupation, and their diversity of interests made organization and, later, negotiation difficult.

In our opinion, the key factor was the compensation offered to evicted families. In the case of central Santiago, evictions were accompanied by the offer of home ownership, highly subsidized by the state. In principle, despite the disadvantages of the peripheral location and the loss of benefits inherent to the central location, the prospect of being a property owner outweighed the negative effects of eviction at the time of the negotiations.

The case studies

We analyzed three cases in this study: a program of eviction and relocation of precarious settlements; and two projects for social housing in the central area. Social housing is government-sponsored housing destined for low-income sectors. In Chile, during our research, there were four different types of social-housing programs: progressive, basic, a special program for workers, and rural subsidies.

The eviction and relocation program was carried out by the municipality of Santiago between 1981 and 1985 in the 14 campamentos in the municipality, and the program affected a total of 2 400 families. This was part of a large eviction program that affected about 65 000 families in the Santiago metropolitan area. It was carried out by the military government between 1979 and 1985 and constituted the most important systematic and massive process of eviction and relocation of precarious settlements in the country’s history.

The obstacles to maintaining poor inhabitants in the central area were analyzed during the development of two projects: the construction of an apartment building on the site of the demolished Pedro Lagos cité and the construction of another apartment building on a vacant lot — in a process known as the Franklin Project — to relocate low-income families affected by eviction from central-area housing. In the case of the Pedro Lagos cité, 115 families were either moved and relocated in another municipality or left in the same area and provided with a different housing solution. This case was representative of the evictions that took place in central areas as a result of the deterioration of housing conditions there.

In addition to being representative of the housing situation in central Santiago, the Pedro Lagos project shows that given the conditions of operation of the real-estate market and the low level of government intervention in the central area, it became difficult to regularize housing situations without removing the poorest sectors of the population. Nevertheless, this case may provide important information for planning future housing programs to offer alternatives to eviction.

The Franklin Project showed the development of an organizational process in the search for a housing solution for lower-middle and lower-class sectors. The protagonists in this case were long-time residents of deteriorated collective housing, victims of eviction, who either had dubious titles, rented, or were “live-in friends or relatives” (allegados), that is, households or families without access to housing, who lived in a specific place or with family or friends, hoping to benefit from some government program.

In this framework, our study concentrated on showing

• That in different contexts, with different processes, poor sectors were eventually forced to leave the central area;

• That although they were given a housing solution that made them property owners, in most cases this positive aspect was minimized by the totality of negative factors affecting the families in different ways; and

• That despite the fact that this tendency reverts in the long run, part of the poor population would inexorably continue to be forced out of the central area.

Of the 2 304 families that lived in campamentos in the central area, only 144 managed to remain; of the 155 families that resided in the Pedro Lagos cité, only 30 became involved in the definitive program; and of the 110 families that began the Franklin Project, only 26 witnessed its realization.

The eviction and relocation program

General aspects

From 1979 to 1985, the military government implemented a program of eviction and relocation of campamentos involving all the settlements originating from land invasions that had taken place for the most part in the early 1970s.

The eviction aspect of the program consisted in relocating the families that lived in the campamentos to social-housing complexes in peripheral municipalities of the city. Ownership of this strongly subsidized housing was granted to the families. In general terms and in principle, the option of eviction took into account criteria such as the property situation of the site, potential risks, and incompatibility with plans to regularize, but in time other criteria became more important. These other criteria included the image of the municipality, especially in the case of the central municipality and municipalities where upper- and middle-income sectors resided, and the land value, especially with speculation about future commercial or residential urbanization, or both, for high- and middle-income sectors.

The relocation aspect of the program, which planned to let the inhabitants remain in campamentos in the same area, consisted basically of redrawing streets, regularization of boundaries, leveling of streets and sidewalks, construction of sanitary facilities for the site (bathroom and kitchen space), and regularization of the ownership of the land (granting of land titles).

Many of the characteristics of this program made it relevant in an analysis of eviction processes. In the first place, it was a massive program: it affected about 65 000 families in the metropolitan area of Santiago. Of this total, some 35 000 families were evicted, and another 30 000 remained in their sites of origin. Second, it was managed at a state level, with the involvement of numerous government agencies, especially the municipal government, and took into account various aspects that went beyond the housing solution, including occupational training for the affected parties and social-assistance programs.

The authoritarian context in which this program was carried out was a deciding factor: it would be difficult to imagine such a program outside of this context, because of its magnitude and the lack of participation of the affected parties. In addition, any type of opposition to the evictions from the affected parties could be suppressed. Out of this process came some important precedents for eviction measures on a national level. The most important was Act 18.138, of June 1982, which temporarily allowed the municipalities to elaborate, develop, and carry out programs to build inexpensive housing and sanitary infrastructure. This Act provided the legal basis for the eviction and relocation of campamentos.

Another important factor in the processes of eviction was a set of urban-development policies that in 1979 abolished urban limits and allowed zoning to be controlled by the market, without state intervention. Zoning was determined by profit margins (Trivelli 1981). With the elimination of urban-limit norms, an additional 64 000 ha was added to the 38 000-ha area of Santiago at the time. This allowed the municipality to acquire at low cost large tracts of land to relocate the inhabitants of the campamentos.

Also, these aspects, the municipal law, and the new focus of urban policies were complemented by administrative reforms that allowed the creation of new municipalities. In May 1981, 16 new municipalities were created in Santiago province, and in 1992, the central municipality was divided into three municipalities. The main objective of this subdivision was to define homogeneous territorial areas according to the socioeconomic characteristics of the population. It was hoped that his homogeneity would result in more effective channeling of government resources for social programs (Morales and Rojas 1986). However, municipal subdivision increased the levels of urban segregation in the city of Santiago.

The eviction process in the campamentos of the municipality of Santiago

The program of razing and relocating campamentos in the municipality of Santiago began in June 1981. It affected the 14 existing campamentos in the municipality, which originated from land invasions that took place from 1969 to 1972. The municipality’s first acts were aimed at improving the living conditions of the campamento residents, relocating them to other areas in the same municipality. Later, in 1982, new municipal-level authorities changed the orientation, applying the program to razing the campamentos. That year marked the beginning of the destruction program, which affected 13 of the 14 campamentos in the municipality.

The destruction of the campamentos in the central municipalities, those with greater economic resources, was a decision made at a central-government level and carried out by the municipalities. Before the decision to evict the people in the campamentos was made, the municipality of Santiago took a series of administrative measures designed to regularize the campamentos, implementing a program of land improvement and improvement in housing conditions. These measures included the application of instruments for social stratification of the population and the creation in June 1981 of the Campamentos Unit of the Department of Social Development.

In the latter half of 1981, this program evaluated the physical conditions of the campamentos in the municipality, and a subprogram for education and training, run by the National Secretariat of Women, included the following subjects: the national situation today, human relations, consumer education, history of Chile, decorating of basic housing, and home vegetable gardens.

In June of 1982, once Act 18.138 was in effect, the decision was made to evict the people in 13 of the 14 campamentos in which the municipality had begun its program of basic improvements. Only the Patricio Mekis campamento was spared, although the same could have been done with at least four other campamentos located on land belonging to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MINVU), thereby only evicting those campamentos located on privately owned land or those that interfered with municipal growth.

The first step in this process was a census of all the people living in the campamentos. The National Secretary of Women also visited each one of the families to be evicted, with the purpose of giving individual instruction to each family group. During 1982, families were instructed in the correct usage of definitive housing, decoration, cleaning, making use of interior space, rational use of the space, and group relations.

The families’ reaction to eviction was negative. The major problems these people envisioned were distance (from the central area) and the possibility of losing various subsidies they received from the municipality of Santiago. Faced with this reaction, the municipality of Santiago promised to transfer the subsidies to the new municipalities, as well as school registrations for the children and medical records, for which it took the necessary actions and corresponding coordination, and to make other social contributions to their municipalities of destination. In conjunction with the administrative measures and the selection of the parties to benefit, an intense information campaign was carried out through talks in each campamento to let the people know about the different subsidies and assistance benefits they would receive.

Between June and August 1982, the Campamentos Unit organized the relocation of the families, distributing them by population and by town in each of the two municipalities of destination. The main criterion used for this assignation was the similarity of the social profiles of the evicted parties. In June and July of 1982, the Department of Public Works of the municipality of Santiago elaborated guidelines for bids on the construction of the new housing for the evicted parties. The guidelines considered the bids on the land, together with the construction of the new housing. The call for bids opened in July 1982, and in September 1982, 258 housing units were ready for construction in San Bernardo; and 1 500, in the municipality of La Granja. In September 1982, the Campamentos Unit assigned housing and required that each of the beneficiaries sign a sworn statement to the effect that they owned no other property and accepted the relocation program offered by the municipality of Santiago.

The municipality purchased the rural property known as El Castillo for the new settlements, one of the best agricultural tracts in Santiago Metropolitan Area, located in the south in the municipality of La Granja. Housing construction began in October 1982 and finished in April 1983. (Because of the similarities in the processes in both cases of eradication studied, La Granja—La Pintana and San Bernardo, and in the interest of simplification, only the La Granja-La Pintana case will be discussed in discussing reconstruction.)

In late 1982, the municipality of Santiago started a study of the need for community services, elaborated guidelines for bids, called for and adjudicated proposals, and established these services in early 1983. Also in 1983, the municipalities of Santiago and La Granja signed an agreement: educational and recreational centres were to be built by the former, trees were to be planted by both, and the costs of paving the main and access roads were to be shared. During the housing-construction period, from July 1982 to March 1983, the municipality of Santiago did the necessary deed searches and loan collection, with the latter initiated in December 1982.

The organization of the relocation

Before the families’ relocation, information meetings were held with the municipal personnel who would be participating in the process, with the purpose of planning each of the stages.

The Department of Social Development established a plan to relocate families by campamento, specifying site, date, schedule, system for moving household goods, shifts for the personnel who would intervene, and a system of relocation by truck convoys.

The eviction operation of was carried out with the following personnel and equipment:

• Personnel to aid in packing and loading (aid to those who needed it);

• Security personnel;

• Support personnel;

• Buses (to transport children, women, and senior citizens);

• Trucks (to transport family groups, as well as household goods, construction material, etc.);

• Water trucks;

• Heavy machinery (bulldozers, front loaders, hoppers, portable lighting equipment);

• Equipment to clear and level land and remove waste;

• Loudspeaker system;

• Radio-communications equipment;

• First-aid services;

• Food service (for support crews and for children of the evicted families between the ages of 1 and 12);

• Service for sanitary control and treatment (treatment of sources of infection, animal control, disinfection of household goods before transport, and sanitary-treatment facilities for transport vehicles); and

• Emergency services (for electricity, water), including firefighters.

The following agencies participated in the eviction:

• Carabineers of Chile;

• Chilean army;

• CEMA (mothers’ centre);

• National Secretary of Women;

• National Youth Secretariat;

• Municipality of Santiago;

• The Red Cross;

• Civil Defence;

• The Salvation Army;

• Chilectra, S.A. (an electrical services company);

• Empresa Metropolitana de Obras Sanitarias; and

• District command of firefighters.

The transport of the evicted parties took place between March and July 1983, ahead of schedule, owing to the heavy seasonal rains. The muncipality of Santiago transported 1492 families from its campamentos and financed 1 500 housing units. The families relocated in the municipality of La Granja were set up in villages within the limits of Santiago de Nueva Extremadura district specified in Table 1. At the moment of transfer, the organizers provided each head of family evicted with an identification card, stating the name of the person, his or her address in the campamento, and the address of the new house in the new municipality. This was to coordinate transportation.

After transport, the municipality of Santiago followed up with a 6-month (April-October 1983) study of the evicted families, which indicated

• Any defects detected in the new housing;

• Social attention;

• Verification of the transfer of the identification cards, including social stratification, health benefits, education, and employment;

• Proposals and confirmation of the settlers’ governing boards;

• Advisory to neighbours’ organizations;

• Health services; and

• Family education and vegetable gardens.

Table 1. Villages in Santiago de Nueva Extremadura.


Number of families

Campamento of origin

Villa la ciudad


Nueva Independencia

Villa El Cabildo


General Bonilla
General Amengual
Lo Valledor Norte

Villa Las Iglesias


Aeropuerto Cerillos
Nueva Lo Vellador

Villa Los Fundadores


San Juan
Lo Ruíz

Villa Los Caciques



The process of collecting fees for housing costs was initially the responsibility of the municipality of Santiago. However, with installation came countless problems with collection: tardiness, low collection rates, and attacks on collectors. This motivated the municipality of La Pintana (created in 1981 by a territorial division in the municipality of La Granja) to request a transfer of the collection docket. La Pintana was granted the docket and came to an agreement with the population that all monies would be used for municipal works. This improved recovery by 90%. The process of title-granting was carried out by the municipality of La Pintana. With this, the eviction process was complete.

The impact of eviction on families 10 years later

To discover the impact of the evictions on the affected families, we took a survey of families evicted from central area Santiago between 1983 and 1985. The questions were designed to gather the opinions and discover the perceptions of the evicted parties on different subjects, including work, location, housing, neighbourhood, services, infrastructure, and integration, 10 years after the eviction process had begun. We conducted the survey at three sites: two settlements of evicted parties, 152 of the 1 500 families evicted to the La Pintana municipality, and to 102 of the 250 families relocated in the municipality of San Bernardo; and in the only original settlement that remained in the municipality, 80 of the 144 families. We selected San Bernardo because it involved a small number of families evicted to a more socioeconomically heterogeneous municipality, with access to sources of work and with a higher degree of consolidation.

The municipality of La Pintana began functioning as such in 1984. La Granja was one of the municipalities to receive the evicted population from the

Table 2. All things considered, would you say that you are better or worse off now than before



Proportion of respondents (%)



Villa Patricio Mekis

San Bernardo

La Pintana

Better off




Better off and worse off




Worse off




Don't know/no answer




metropolitan area, and it received the majority of its families from the municipality of Santiago. After the division of La Pintana from La Granja, a large part of the relocated population fell within the limits of the new municipality and, at the time, outside of the urbanized area.

Because of the evictions, the population of this area grew from 78 312 in 1982 to 148 710 in 1984. After the eviction, this area was classified as the poorest municipality of the metropolitan area. Also, there was a considerable deficit in services and attention to the community in different areas (health, education, communications, security, recreation, etc.). At the local level, it took 6 years before the new municipality could be considered equipped with such basic services. The lack of material goods in the municipality added to the emotional impact of the evictions on the evicted families. The municipality, in turn, tried to implement a series of measures to contribute to municipal identity, including support for social and sports activities.

San Bernardo is an older municipality. At the time of the evictions, it was a consolidated urban area. For this reason, the families relocated there had urban services from the start. Also, this municipality, unlike La Pintana, received a low percentage of families evicted from the metropolitan area. This also facilitated the process of settlement and identity for the families. In general terms, the responses reflecting a more negative judgement tended to correspond to the sample from La Pintana, although the housing solution in this case was similar to that in San Bernardo: small housing units (18 m2) in an urbanized lot measuring 120 m2, with a bathroom, kitchen, living room, and bedroom.

In Table 2, the difference in the perception of those who were not evicted (Villa Mekis) and those who were is striking and obvious: although a great majority of those who remained in the central area consider themselves to be better off, markedly low percentages of those relocated in municipalities far away feel the same way. The table also shows a not-so-radical but significant difference between the two relocated groups: the proportion of those relocated in a consolidated municipality (San Bernardo) who considered themselves better off was three times greater than that of people relocated in a poor peripheral municipality with very low levels of consolidation (La Pintana). At the same time, the number of those relocated in La Pintana who considered themselves worse off was three times greater than those among the inhabitants of San Bernardo.

When asked why they considered themselves better off (Table 2) after relocation to La Pintana, less than half (43%) mentioned owning their houses, and a very low percentage (11%) mentioned an improvement in the quality of life. (The category “quality of life” included answers such as good neighbourhood, better air, safety, greenery, health and educational services, and tranquility.) The rest (36%) considered themselves not better off. In San Bernardo, the respondents concentrated more on the housing units as the main reason for being better off (66%), and less people there (12%) considered themselves not better off in any way.

In La Pintana, there were similar proportions (about 20%) of people who mentioned negative factors such as loss of work relations, central location, social relations, and quality of life. In San Bernardo, the same negative factors were mentioned but with a higher concentration of responses (29%) in aspects related to central location. The central-location category also included distance, remoteness, and isolation. A very low number of responses (6%) indicated negative impact on quality of life. In San Bernardo, one-third of those surveyed indicated they were in no way worse off, whereas only one-tenth of those surveyed in La Pintana had the same opinion.

The group of those relocated in Villa Mekis obtained an improvement in their housing conditions while remaining in the central area. A similar housing solution was also offered to the other two groups who were relocated: a small housing unit (with possibilities for enlargement) and basic services (potable water, sewer system, electricity). From this point of view, the three groups improved their housing situations, and the origins of the two relocated groups were the same.

With time, the levels of satisfaction of the three groups were quite different. Obviously, according to Table 2, and other responses to the survey analyzed in previous paragraphs, the people in the group that remained in the central area, with improved housing (Villa P. Mekis) were the most satisfied. On the other hand, the two relocated groups received similar housing solutions but in locations that presented and continued to present very distinct characteristics. In response to these differences, there were marked differences in the repeated levels of satisfaction.

Table 3 In general terms, after relocating to this site, you feel you are ...


Proportion of respondents (%)



San Bernardo

La Pintana

Isolated from rest of the city?



Far away but not lacking for anything?



Still living in the city?



If we assume that the housing situation was not the most important factor in the satisfaction of those surveyed, then the location variable becomes a determining factor. This variable was apparently not linked to physical distance, as the distance was similar from San Bernardo and from La Pintana to central Santiago. It must instead have been linked to access to services, work sources, and the social-structure network. This is illustrated in Table 3, which describes the image the settlers had of their relocation and destination. Therefore, despite the similar distance between the two settlements and central Santiago, the perception that one was isolated from the rest of the city was markedly greater in La Pintana. In contrast to the situation of the relocated persons, in Villa Mekis, 94% of those surveyed felt they were in part of the city.

As can be seen in Table 4, those surveyed indicated a high level of satisfaction with the housing solution, even higher than expressed five years before in another survey (Aldunate et al. 1987). On the other hand, in San Bernardo and La Pintana, the majority responded that they made improvements in their housing units (94 and 89%, respectively), and about 60% in both cases planned to continue making improvements. Because the basic housing units were complete, these improvements were enlargements with light materials, mostly additional bedrooms, fences, interior divisions, and adaptation of outside areas.

Table 4. Do you consider this house to be better than, the same as, or worse than what you had before?


Proportion of respondents (%)



San Bernardo

La Pintana










Table 5. How would you rate the evolution of education and health services from the time of your arrival to the present?


Proportion of respondents (%)



San Bernardo

La Pintana










Don’t know/no answer












Don’t know/no answer



Complementing the evaluation of those surveyed about their housing, other associated indicators of satisfaction and dissatisfaction were taken into account, including access to educational and health services, transportation, commerce, infrastructure, and basic services, such as potable water, public lighting, pavement, garbage collection, and other services, including mail delivery, telephone, and police services. In the face of these variables, the survey registered the perception of those interviewed at their time of arrival on a scale of good, average, and bad; and currently, on a scale of whether each service had improved, stayed the same, or worsened. The responses are shown in Tables 58.

Table 6. How would you rate the evolution of financial and transportation services from the time of your arrival to the present?


Proportion of respondents (%)



San Bernardo

La Pintana










Don’t know/no answer












Don’t know/no answer



Table 7. How would you rate the evolution of potable-water supplies, street paving, street lights, and garbage collection from the time of your arrival to the present?


Proportion of respondents (%)



San Bernardo

La Pintana

Potable water









Don’t know/no answer



Street paving









Don’t know/no answer



Street lights









Don’t know/no answer



Garbage collection









Don’t know/no answer



Regarding the analysis of evolution of services, it is worth mentioning that both relocated groups came from the same original location (the municipality of Santiago). This municipality offered the families basic urban services (especially in education, health, commerce, and transport) superior to the average of those of the municipalities of the metropolitan area of Santiago and markedly superior to those of the destinations in the eviction and relocation program. This same territorial origin marks a common reference for both groups, and for this reason, the differences or similarities in the responses between San Bernardo and La Pintana are objective.

In education and health, there was no clear tendency among a majority of people to perceive a satisfactory level of evolution (Table 5), as in the case of other services. Nevertheless, a respectable percentage of those surveyed (30–40%) responded that the services were “poor” or “average” and “have improved.” It is necessary to qualify the finding of dissatisfaction regarding education and health services; it cannot be attributed directly to the relocation, as in Chile there is general discontent about these services, especially health services.

Table 8. How would you rate the evolution of mail delivery, telephone service, and police presence from the time of your arrival to the present?


Proportion of respondents (%)



San Bernardo

La Pintana

Mail delivery









Don’t know/no answer



Telephone service









Don’t know/no answer



Police presence









Don’t know/no answer



Regarding commerce and transport, the opinion that the evolution of service was satisfactory (Table 6) referred to a notable improvement from initial average and poor levels. An important proportion of those surveyed (more than 60%) from both groups judged these services to be poor or average when they arrived.

Services for potable water, street paving, street lights, and garbage collection are analyzed in Table 7; in general terms, we might say that the initial situation for potable water and street lighting was satisfactory for the majority. With garbage collection and street paving, however, the initial situation was unsatisfactory for many in La Pintana but evolved to greater levels of satisfaction. Only with regard to street paving did those surveyed in San Bernardo judge the initial situation to be deficient and deem the current situation unchanged. There was no response with respect to these four services, and in neither of the two settlements did those surveyed express the opinion that the initially satisfactory services had deteriorated. In the case of drinking water, the initial positive response was maintained throughout and was directly related to the fact that the program provided housing units with complete basic domestic services.

Table 8 shows that a wide majority of people considered the initial telephone service deficient but saw a definite improvement. Regarding mail delivery, the people relocated in San Bernardo believed that the majority of the services were initially satisfactory and remained so. But those in La Pintana thought that the initially deficient services had improved. For many living in La Pintana, police presence had improved, but for many surveyed in San Bernardo, it was initially deficient and had remained so.

It is important to note that 57% of the people relocated in La Pintana and 40% of those in San Bernardo affirmed that their work situation was good or very good before relocation, whereas only 18% of those interviewed in Villa Mekis were of the same opinion. On the other hand, 35% of those relocated in La Pintana noted that they lost their jobs because of the move, and 18% in San Bernardo. In both cases, the distance was cited as the cause. At the same time, 57% of those still living in Villa Mekis believed their future work situation would improve, as did 41% in San Bernardo and 33% in La Pintana.

It is also interesting to view these data on the work situation in the context of the unemployment rate in both the metropolitan region and the municipalities in question. A 1990 survey indicated an unemployment rate of 8.1% in the metropolitan region, 5.6% in the municipality of Santiago, 13.3% in San Bernardo, and 14.9% in La Pintana. Therefore, the impact of living in municipalities with high unemployment rates was to create the perception that the previous work situation was better (when the unemployment rate in Chile rose to more than 30%), and, more recently, with a considerable decrease in national unemployment rates, work expectations for those who were relocated are actually quite lower than for those who remained in the central municipality.

The relationship of the general opinion of those surveyed to their evaluation of housing, services, and work situation

If those surveyed positively evaluated a wide variety of aspects related to housing and basic services, other than their work situation, what is the source of dissatisfaction shown in their general opinions? We found that in addition to the work situation, three factors were judged negatively: integration with the city, cleanliness of the neighbourhood, and general atmosphere. With respect to integration, the perception of the majority of those surveyed in La Pintana (almost 80%, Table 3) was due to isolation. That perception, nevertheless, seemed to contradict the high degree of satisfaction shown in aspects that at first glance might be considered directly related to the integration with the rest of the city: transportation, mail service, and telephone service. On the other hand, the sense of isolation cannot be related to the perception of a lack of services such as education, commerce, and health, which were also evaluated highly compared with the overall results.

Although the sense of isolation in La Pintana did not appear to be directly linked to services and infrastructure, the survey showed a significant loss in terms of social networks and family relationships. The number who indicated they had no friends in the neighbourhood, or if they had friends, didn’t visit them, reached 72%. Those who indicated that they had no relatives in the area, or didn’t visit them if they did have, reached 54%. Seventy-five percent of those interviewed in La Pintana responded that their friends in other parts of Santiago didn’t visit them, and 51% responded that they didn’t visit their friends in other parts of Santiago. Forty percent indicated that their relatives living in other parts of Santiago never visited them, and 55% never visited their relatives living in other parts of Santiago. Finally, 60% of those surveyed stated that their neighbours didn’t help one another, and 54% stated they wouldn’t turn to a neighbour in an emergency.

Another area judged unsatisfactory by those surveyed in La Pintana was the cleanliness of the neighbourhood. Only 25% thought the neighbourhood was clean. In this aspect, we found the same phenomenon as in the case of integration in the city: the low degree of satisfaction with regard to cleanliness contradicted the high degree of satisfaction (93%) with garbage collection. The opinion about the lack of cleanliness of the settlement again appeared from different survey questions directly related to characteristics of the neighbours, in this case, their “laziness and lack of caring.”

Another aspect that in different responses to the survey appeared to have a greater negative weight in the overall response of the residents of La Pintana was what they called “bad atmosphere,” referring to delinquency, drug addiction, alcoholism, prostitution, and conflicts with neighbours, which sometimes were referred to under “bad neighbourhood.” This factor could be related, especially in the case of San Bernardo, to the perception of deficiencies in the evolution of the service of police presence. In the case of La Pintana, where police presence was judged to be better, the perception of a bad atmosphere may have been related to the image the municipality projected in general, as the site of concentration of an extremely poor population, formed from marginal groups with no common history, relocated from different areas of the city. Those interviewed expressed this sentiment by commenting, “they just dumped us here” (Icaza et al. 1988). Coinciding with the overall results, it was found that those people relocated in San Bernardo had a markedly higher percentage answering “still haven’t gotten used to it” after 10 years than those relocated in La Pintana and had a much lower percentage saying that it was an easy move. Another indication of dissatisfaction and a low degree of getting used to living in La Pintana was the sentiment expressed by the majority of those interviewed that they would like to leave. Although 70% of those living in San Bernardo affirmed that they had never thought of leaving, the same percentage of people in La Pintana said they had considered it (Table 9).

One reason given by those relocated in La Pintana for this feeling of temporariness and lack of roots was that it seemed that their neighbours were moving

Table 9. Have you considered moving? Where to?



Proportion of respondents (%)



Villa Patricio Mekis

San Bernardo

La Pintana

Yes, to central Santiago




Yes, to another municipality




Yes, within the same municipality







away. Almost all of those surveyed said they knew families that had moved away, and the majority (80%) also claimed to know “many” families that had done so. In their interpretation, it appeared they projected their own discontent with the general atmosphere to the other families that had chosen to leave.

As mentioned previously, in both San Bernardo and La Pintana, the majority stated that their new housing was better than what they had had before. The majority also claimed to have fixed up their housing units, and a high percentage of people planned to continue to do so. In both cases, people cited becoming owners of their houses as the most important benefit from the relocation. In San Bernardo, this is reflected in the clear desire of those surveyed to remain. Nevertheless, Table 10 illustrates to what degree owning their own housing in La Pintana failed to outweigh the negative factors causing dissatisfaction: half said that they would like to move to a more central location, even if they had to pay rent. Of that half, 15% stated that they would do so even if it would be easy for them to get used to living in La Pintana or already felt at home there. Of those stating they would remain in La Pintana, 18% said they still were not used to living there but that if faced with the alternative of renting, they would remain because of the advantage of owning their home (housing preference over location). In San Bernardo, of the 90% that would choose to remain, 25% said they hadn’t gotten used to living there yet, which reinforced the argument for the preference of housing over location.

Table 10. If you could choose between staying in this municipality, with a house you own, and moving to a more central location, where you would pay rent, which would you choose?


Proportion of respondents (%)



San Bernardo

La Pintana

I would stay here



I would leave



Don't know/no answer


Table 11. If you had the resources to solve one problem, which would you choose?


Proportion of respondents (%)



San Bernardo

La Pintana

Bad atmosphere



Size of house






Children’s centre



Health in general









Don’t know/no answer



Finally, despite their strong desire to move, the great majority of those who have considered leaving had taken no steps to move. Two factors might influence this: legislation that prohibits beneficiaries of a social-housing program from renting or selling their houses for a certain number of years and the rental-housing market for low-income sectors, which is much smaller than that for sectors financially better off.

One method used to verify the most important factors contributing to dissatisfaction was the question posed by interviewers about the first problems the settlers would solve had they the resources to do so. The data in Table 11 confirmed the most important factors of dissatisfaction already mentioned: for those in La Pintana, the first area they would improve was the bad atmosphere; and for those in San Bernardo, the streets, in need of paving.

The allocation of resources selected indicated that people had two very different points of view, those of the people in San Bernardo and those of the people in La Pintana. In San Bernardo, they would concentrate their energies on a concrete option. On the other hand, the people in La Pintana opted for the solution to a problem, bad atmosphere, which was directly related to the formation of the municipality. It was also related to the reputation the municipality had with the rest of the population of Santiago, which had stigmatized it as an area of concentrated poverty and danger, that is, with safety risks for its inhabitants as well as for those who might happen to be passing by.

The perception of the evolution of problems again confirmed the greater dissatisfaction of those surveyed in La Pintana than those in San Bernardo. Although only one-third of those in La Pintana believed these problems would be

Table 12. Considering what we have discussed to this point, you feel that living here is ...


Proportion of respondents (%)



San Bernardo

La Pintana

Good as you had expected



Not as bad as you had expected



Bad or worse than you had expected



Don't know/no answer



solved in time, in San Bernardo, fully half of those surveyed had the same optimistic opinion. Another third of those surveyed in La Pintana believed these problems would tend to grow, but in San Bernardo, only a minority (8%) expressed this opinion.

The families relocated from the municipality of Santiago to either new municipality received the ownership of a house (constructions made of wood and scrap materials) with all the basic services as a solution to their precarious housing situation. This was their compensation for the losses incurred with eviction. This compensation apparently did not influence the expectations of the affected parties when the eviction process began. As shown in Table 12, we could deduce that only a minimal percentage of those relocated in La Pintana, and a low proportion of those relocated in San Bernardo, thought the change would be for the better. However, a large percentage had negative expectations, whether they were confirmed or not (“not as bad as I thought” or “bad or worse than I expected”).

Nevertheless, with time, their initial fears had lessened: of those who had low expectations in La Pintana (85.5%), only one-third considered themselves worse off than before; 44% believed they were better off in some aspects and worse off in others; and 7% believed they were better off. In San Bernardo, a large majority also had believed the change would be for the worse (73.3%). Of those, only a minimal percentage actually believed themselves to be worse off (10%); 42% believed they were better off in some ways and worse off in others; and 18% believed they were better off than before.

Analyzing the two initial expectations in the face of relocation and the overall balance 10 years after the relocation process, we were able to construct typical responses to sum up the different attitudes toward relocation in the distributions presented in Tables 13 and 14.

Table 13. La Pintaría: typical responses to relocation.



Overall balance



Better off

Worse off

Better off and worse off


Optimism confirmed

Optimism disproved

Optimism relativized (4.4%)


Pessimism disproved (7%)

Pessimism confirmed (33%)

Pessimism relativized (44%)

Note: 8.9% of responses could not be characterized.

Table 14. San Bernardo: typical responses to relocation.



Overall balance



Better off

Worse off

Better off and worse off


Optimism confirmed

Optimism disproved

Optimism relativized (8.9%)


Pessimism disproved (17.7%)

Pessimism confirmed (10%)

Pessimism relativized (42%)

Note: 5.9% of responses could not be characterized.

Two attempts to retain poor population in the central area

The Franklin Project

Between 1983 and 1984, the Housing Commission of the Central Zone Vicariate carried out an analysis of collective housing in the central area of Santiago. The analysis referred to the characteristics of the housing, as well as those of the inhabitants, and demonstrated the seriousness of the housing problem for low-income groups living in Santiago’s central zone.

Following the study, the Vicariate began the job of organizing and educating groups of people about the problem — the program that had to be modified after the earthquake of 3 March 1985. In response to this catastrophe, the Vicariate elaborated a plan of action through which it developed its support work. The Archbishop of Santiago carried out the plan through five vicarages — Central, North, South, East, and West — according to the city’s zones. This plan consisted of organizing a technical office in charge of assessing the magnitude of damage to housing in the zone (census); the organization of, and education and support to, victims’ committees; and collection of material resources and housing repair. To this end, a card was filled out, and different census groups walked through the area to evaluate the earthquake’s effects.

Within the area of housing repair, two types of intervention were organized: loans of construction materials to victims (for them to make necessary repairs) and repair projects, which provided construction materials as well as qualified labour. The technical office of the Vicariate was in charge of presenting the most urgent repair projects, according to the resources received and the social situation of the victims. Funds for the repair program were provided by the Vicariate and by the Caritas Institute of Housing. The latter provided financing for loans of construction materials. The Vicariate’s plan of action also involved the organization of the victims, as well as individual attention, which included going to the Vicariate to ask for material resources or to solicit technical advice about their housing. As part of the organizational process, in April 1985 the Zone Committee was formed, with sector heads. Many of the members of these groups had no previous organizational experience.

During the program of assistance and housing repairs, the victims’ organization concentrated its efforts on obtaining financial resources and material, without broadening its objectives or including other types of activities. Because of this, as the loans and repair projects decreased, the organization got smaller, and with the exception of the governing board, its members participated passively or stopped working on their respective committees.

In 1986, the Housing Commission of the Vicariate evaluated the work done up to that time and agreed to continue providing a line of support to the organization. In addition to the fact that the victims’ committee had practically dissolved, the seriousness of the housing problem and the experience accumulated by the organization justified their continuing efforts to promote the organization of the inhabitants of the zone and the elaboration of a joint work plan. This plan involved education and support for the organization and providing it with material resources after its consolidation.

This led to the elaboration of a proposal geared to solving the housing problem (late 1986), which included two ideas. One was a housing program for people who rented or lived with friends or relatives. The other involved the elaboration of a plan to repair housing owned by the inhabitants, with the purpose of consolidating popular housing in the central sector of the city. The basic elements of the proposal were to promote the benefits of owning one’s home and of having permanent low-income sectors in central Santiago, to educate and organize groups to prepare them for negotiation, and to create a revolving fund for the purchase of land.

The Vicariate contacted the Norwegian agency, Popular Aid, and presented its housing project for the central zone of Santiago. It was approved, and special emphasis was placed on the organization and the development of the negotiating capacity of the beneficiaries of any solution to their housing problem, including the deterioration of housing and overcrowding. In September 1987, the program had 110 families, which made up the Franklin Group.

In March 1988, the Welfare Commission of the same group assumed responsibility for elaboration and application of a survey and went door-to-door to determine the socioeconomic characteristics of possible beneficiaries. The survey showed 42% independent workers, and 58% service-sector workers; an average of four persons per family; 45% renters, 34% living with friends or family, and 21% usufructuaries of housing; and very low incomes, which meant a very low capacity for saving. The results of the survey, especially those related to income and savings capacity, demonstrated the priority of promoting the family savings and developing fund-raising activities to enable people to apply to state housing-subsidy programs.

Different alternatives were studied for obtaining legal representation. They included forming a building society, creating a closed housing cooperative, and becoming incorporated into an open housing cooperative. The option chosen, an open cooperative, was carried out through affiliation with the Cardinal Silva Henriquez Cooperative.

In April and July 1988, informative talks were given on the requirements and ways of accrediting income to qualify for bank loans and apply for state housing-subsidy programs. This information was needed because of the high percentage of independent workers and persons without labour contracts. Once financing was disbursed by the Norwegian agency, a fund was created for the purchase of land for housing construction in the zone. The monetary resources granted in the form of loans were to be paid back by the beneficiaries after they received their housing subsidy and mortgage loan; and these monies then constituted a revolving fund that would serve to replicate the Franklin Project in other similar programs.

A list of real property available in the zone was drawn up, taking into account the cost per square metre, area, location, and forms of payment. This instrument was the basis for the choice and purchase of the land for the project (780 m2) in September 1988, which was registered in the name of the Archbishopric of Santiago.

In August 1988, 82 families were still involved in the Franklin Project. They had previously reached an agreement with the Cardinal Silva Henriquez Co-operative that their project would be part of the official program. In addition, all technical, social, and legal assistance, as well as the drawing of the architectural projects, would be handled by the Central Zone Vicariate and by the North Workshop (a nongovernmental organization [NGO] dedicated to supporting popular housing), with one representative from the cooperative forming part of the work team.

To finance the project, it was agreed that the beneficiaries would save a minimum of 1 “foment unit” (UF) per month for the time to gain access to a state housing-subsidy program (18 months). (The UF was a monetary unit created for indexing the national currency to inflation and economic fluctuations of the country [in 1993, a UF was worth about 25 United States dollars].) The total value of the housing unit (including land) was not to exceed 400 UF, to be amortized by the beneficiaries through their subsidy and mortgage loan.

During the first semester of 1989, the technical team in charge of the project elaborated different design proposals, without the participation of the beneficiaries. The accepted proposal was for duplex apartments of 44 m2, with a kitchen, living room-dining room on the ground floor, and a top floor that included a bathroom with room for a washing machine and two bedrooms with space for a closet. For those families that needed more bedrooms, the option was open to partition the ground floor and reduce the living-room-dining-room area.

At the end of 1989, an exposition was prepared, in which the project was explained. After this presentation, various people deserted from the initial group, believing the project did not suit their needs. The selection of the beneficiary families was handled through a point system, approved by the assembly of members. The criteria considered were savings, work situation (steady work), active participation in the groups’ activities, attendance at the educational meetings organized by the Parish, attendance at general meetings, payment of fees, urgency of the family’s situation, and levels of participation in organizational activities or work commissions. Twenty-six families were selected as beneficiaries, and 4 alternate families were chosen.

The 27 families with low point scores were to be beneficiaries in the second stage made up of less urgent cases and those with difficulty maintaining the minimum savings stipulated by the cooperative. In response to this situation, a broadening of the time limit for saving was suggested. But this proposal was not accepted by those who were complying, as it would delay their progress even more. Alternatives included changing the program to extend the time limit for getting the required savings and joining the Pedro Lagos project in its initial stage, where the Vicariate had some leverage in selection of the beneficiaries of the program. To comply with the requirements to qualify for the housing subsidy, the co-operative compiled the necessary antecedents to appear before the Ministry of Housing and Urbanism in October 1989 to propose its candidates. Five families chose to join this project, and three were accepted. The rest either chose to join a program in which they didn’t have to save as much money, or they abandoned the idea altogether.

Via a sales contract, the Archbishopric of Santiago transferred the land to the Cardinal Silva Henriquez Co-Operative so that it could accredit the dominion of the land on which it planned to carry out the project for which the subsidy was requested. The subsidy program applied for was directed to persons over the age of majority, single or married; married minors who were employed in a nonprofessional, professional, industrial, or trade capacity, with or without family responsibilities, who did not own and whose spouse did not own property or housing; and persons who were organized in co-operatives or other groups with legal status who presented a new housing project that they wished to acquire or build and who demonstrated the availability of the land.

With the purpose of improving their prospects for requesting and gaining access to a larger mortgage loan, increasing savings, and solving the problem of those families who had fallen behind in their payments, the members of the group and the co-operative initially decided to increase the period for the required savings from 18 to 24 months, later increasing it to 30 months, and opening the option for each family to save more than the monthly amount of UF stipulated. At the time of the request, the majority of the families had already saved the amount of UF required, and some had even saved in excess of that amount.

For construction of the housing units, the co-operative called for closed bidding, inviting six companies with which they had worked previously. Two of the companies presented proposals. The others considered the project unprofitable.

Unforeseen expenses generated an increase of 48 UF to the initial cost per unit (400 UF). To solve this problem, an agreement was reached with the Norwegian agency that they would use part of the value of the land as a direct and nonrefundable contribution. The Norwegian agency approved a contribution of 38 UF, and the other 10 UF was subtracted from the project’s administration costs and from other costs.

Before the project was completed, another increase in foreseen costs occurred that added 5 UF to the total value of the housing unit. This increase would be absorbed by the beneficiaries of the program. Finally, the real value for each housing unit reached 460 UF, including the cost of the architectural design, but without taking into consideration the adjudication costs (notary public fees, closing fees, etc.) of the apartments. The apartments were finished in December 1991, and the process of transferring ownership to beneficiaries started in the beginning of 1992. The grassy area inside the complex, the social centre, and sinks for washing clothes were left as pending projects.

Therefore, after five years of analysis, organization, education, and training, census, association with co-operatives, etc., of the 110 initial families, only the 26 with the highest incomes managed to overcome the different types of financial obstacles. In this respect, it should not be overlooked that part of the program was financed through international cooperation, and supported by national NGOs. This indicates the degree of difficulty implied in remaining in a central area.

The Andalucia project

Toward the end of 1988, the Vicariate assumed responsibility for repeating the Franklin Project, enabling, through organization, a low-income group to obtain housing in central Santiago. According to its plan, the Housing Committee’s objective was to promote and support the organization of the inhabitants of the central area to solve this problem, benefit the inhabitants, and more actively involve them in the search for a solution.

Publicity for the proposal was achieved through the creation of a network of groups based in the parishes, whose purpose was to regain possession of the right to live in the central municipality, and owning their own housing. To this end, the Vicariate presented an analysis of the situation in the municipality, exposing the housing problem and detailing the Franklin Project experience, with its successes and failures.

The following groups agreed to participate:

• Sacred Heart, a group from the parish of the same name, with 30–35 families;

• Saint Saturnino, with 30–35 families; and

• Heart of Mary, a group of 150 families that was divided into groups of 35 (this large group required organization that could not be provided at that time and was finally reduced to 35 families).

The families in these groups either lived with friends or relatives or rented housing in the central part of the city. The project began with a process of education and training for the groups to learn about housing subsidies, types of subsidies they could qualify for, and different housing solutions — almost all located outside the municipality of Santiago. To meet its goal, the Vicariate compiled information about the subsidies and held different forums.

In addition, the Vicariate held workshops to analyze the housing problems, with persons and institutions knowledgeable about the problems, to promote and support the relationship between the housing groups and other associated groups and social organizations from the central zone. Organizational assistance was provided, especially for the leaders, who for the most part had no previous experience as group leaders.

After March 1990, with the beginning of a democratic regime in Chile, dialogue with the government became possible. The work carried out by the Vicariate was recognized by both the municipality and MTNVU, which agreed to work together and not duplicate each other’s efforts. The new authorities of the municipality of Santiago presented the possibility of designing a program to repopulate central Santiago, and one of the first steps was the implementation of a MINVU program designed for workers who belonged to organizational entities (institutions, companies, unions, or committees) that negotiated on behalf of workers. The municipality’s proposal was to integrate the MTNVU program into the vicariate programs that had already been organized for more than a year and had some savings.

The initial reaction of the groups was scepticism about the possibility of access to the program. In the first place, they thought it would be very difficult to manage the required savings. During 1.5 years, many had been unable to save even half the amount required. In the second place, they did not believe they would be able to consolidate a program of this type in the central zone of Santiago. In this respect, the presence of municipal authorities and public officials during meetings to disseminate information about the program was important to demonstrating the willingness of the municipality and of MINVU to solve the housing problem of the poor residents of the municipality of Santiago. Once the organized groups agreed to participate, the Vicariate intensified its organizational work with the population and focused on finding appropriate land through the parishes. Also, the municipality promised to review its census of real property, as well as that of the Ministry of National Property.

In July 1990, a municipally owned lot was located, used by the Department of Transit. This resulted in a new problem: there was within the municipality strong pressure from the municipal workers, who thought they should be the beneficiaries of the project. They reasoned that since this was a housing program supported by the municipality for workers and was to be built on municipal property, they should be the first beneficiaries of the program. By August, the project was paralyzed. The beneficiaries changed: they would be the municipal workers. The groups organized by the Vicariate were out of the project, and the mayor promised to continue the program if and only if the new lands were located within the municipality.

The negotiations led to the identification of a lot belonging to MINVU, occupied by the Pedro Lagos cité. The situation of the cité was precarious, as it had been seriously affected by the earthquake of 1985. Many of its inhabitants had been forced to leave because of the poor conditions. However, the number of families living there did not decrease, as the vacant housing was immediately occupied by other families.

By this time, the Vicariate had had a long-standing relationship with those people who decided to remain in the cité after the earthquake. Through the Housing Commission, the Vicariate had procured loans and technical assistance for the inhabitants to fix up their homes. At the time of the initial contact, 115 families were living there. On the other hand, the Vicariate had continued working toward the formation of other groups interested in solving the housing problem, including the parishes of Sacred Heart, Saint Saturnino, and the Heart of Maria. In September 1990, a housing coordination was created for both organized groups.

Through MINVU, the Vicariate discovered that the Pedro Lagos cité was part of the property to be affected by an urban renovation program. This would be financed by the autonomous government of Andalucia, Spain, which had promised to finance the construction of 250 housing units in central Santiago. Both the residents of the cité and the organized groups of the Vicariate would have access to the units.

MINVU invited the Vicariate to participate in the program for the coordination of the social work, a proposal that was accepted. MINVU assumed technical responsibility for this project, as well as for the water, sewage, electricity, and gas projects. The architectural design began in October 1990. According to the building codes of central Santiago, only 178 housing units could be built, with two or three floors, and a ground-floor area of between 24 and 30 m2, designed to be enlarged by the beneficiaries. MINVU granted 138 of the 178 housing units to the Vicariate and kept 40 for its own projects.

In December, the architectural project was completed and presented to the cié’s inhabitants. At the same time, the different alternatives given by MINVU for the relocation of families were also made known. For its part, the Vicariate distributed information on the requirements needed to gain access to the various government housing programs and undertook a door-to-door campaign, evaluating savings capacity of each family to determine their eligibility for the Spanish project.

In January 1991, the 115 families who lived in the Pedro Lagos cité had to choose from among three options. The first was access to loaned housing for a temporary period in the municipality of La Pintana for those families that chose to remain in the central zone. Thirty-six families chose this option. The second was ownership of housing in the municipality of La Pintana. These housing units had a surface area of 32 m2 on lots of 100 m2. Fifty-one families chose this option. The third was ownership of housing in a sector of the southern zone of Santiago (Lo Valledor). This would be in 41-m2 apartments under construction at the time. Until the construction was completed, the families were to live in loaned housing in La Pintana. Twenty-eight families chose this option.

Also, at the same time, the bases for public bidding were set and the execution of the program was contracted. Three construction companies presented bids; the turnout was small because the private sector believed building affordable housing in central Santiago unprofitable.

In May 1991, the cité was vacated. The families were previously notified because their relocation would imply added costs, despite the fact they had the support of the municipality. It was necessary to organize the people, and this was accomplished with the help of the other organized groups within the program. Their support was given through the housing coordinator. Beginning in 1990, with the democratization of the country, the Vicariate suspended its efforts to solve housing problems. It believed the democratic government should attend to the community’s housing problems. This decision resulted in the creation of the Roots Collective by former members of the Vicariate Housing Commission, to carry on the work started. It should be noted that the Church continued to support the Roots Collective, as well as other organized groups. The Roots Collective was responsible for the relocation of the families and their installation in La Pintana. The next day, the housing was demolished to prevent it from being occupied. Then the preliminary construction work began.

After the families were installed in La Pintana, the definitive election took place. Six of the families who had signed up for temporary housing in La Pintana decided to stay there permanently, partly because access to this type of housing required less savings. Another factor was the great difficulty in obtaining a mortgage loan, as many of the workers were independent and unable to substantiate their income.

The former residents of the Pedro Lagos cité were distributed as follows:

• Thirty families returned to live in the new housing built on the Pedro Lagos cité site, now called Andalucia I;2

• Two families relocated in Lo Valledor; and

2 This group had an average family size of 2.62 persons, an average monthly family income of 65 000 CLP, a reduced percentage of extended families, and a significant percentage of persons living alone (in 1998, 479.8 Chilean pesos [CLP] = 1 United States dollar [USD]).

• Eighty-three families opted to reside definitively in La Pintana (this group was known as Andalucia II).3

To designate the beneficiaries, it was agreed that the former residents of the Pedro Lagos cité would be given first priority, followed by the groups from organized parishes, and then, the sector residents registered in the program. In August 1991, the final group of beneficiaries of the Andalucia I project was decided. This group had 138 families, distributed as follows:

• Thirty families of the former Pedro Lagos cité;

• One hundred and two families from the parish groups; and

• Six families from a waiting list (Los Adobes group).

Construction took place from September 1991 to May 1992, and the adjudication and relocation were carried out in May and July. This case demonstrated the difficulty of replicating the Franklin Project after 4 years: of 220 families in the parish groups, only 102 families saw the new program through; and of 115 families that resided in the Pedro Lagos cité, only 30 were able to remain, even with the support of MINVU, the municipality of Santiago, the Andalucia Council, the central Vicariate, and NGOs.

Conclusions and recommendations

The tendency to evict low-income sectors from central areas

Poor sectors have lost the right to live in the central area of the city. Through various mechanisms, they were evicted toward outlying areas. They were ousted through mass evictions at different times, evicted because of the deterioration of the housing they inhabited, the reason given to justify their eviction; and when incentives were established for housing or sector improvement, these incentives led to eviction because of the subsequent increases in land values and rents. The poor were also excluded because of public social-housing projects and policies that were not designed to build housing for poor sectors in the central area.

Despite the intervention of various groups supporting housing-construction projects for low-income sectors in the central area, only those families with larger incomes were able to remain there. Their greater saving capacities allowed them

3 In this group, 33.7% of the families had other family members living with them, and the average family size was nine.

to remain in the programs designed to retain poor people in the central area; and their better housing conditions allowed them to follow through during the long process of organization and realization of these programs; and their greater income allowed them to absorb the increase in the housing cost and ultimately obtain credit and make payments. The economic limitations on the poorest sectors’ ability to remain in the central area suggested the need to rethink urban-development policies in general and the design of social-housing programs especially. These policies must be based on the right of the poorest sectors to remain in the places where they have always lived and based on a view of the city as a place where diverse socioeconomic sectors live as neighbours, and on the recognition that the central areas are perhaps the last resort for many socioeconomic sectors.

At the time of the study, few low-income inhabitants remained in Santiago’s central zone. This tendency indicated that in the long run, they would all be ousted. What could be done?

First, there was a need for an urban-development policy to retain and attract low-income people to the areas surrounding the central zone. This could not be accomplished without a corresponding public policy.

Second, to minimize the negative effects, from previous experiences with evictions, one would have to learn which procedures and forms of settlement had produced positive effects. It would also have to be kept in mind that any urban remodeling policy for the central areas would necessarily imply evicting people.

This double strategy of establishing a way to retain low-income populations and learning from previous experience to avoid negative effects would seem to constitute a more realistic approach than one concentrating on avoiding evictions from the start. This seemed especially true of eviction processes that occurred in the central areas of Santiago.

Suggestions to enable poor sectors to remain in central areas

The following ideas, to be successfully implemented, would require concerted actions from the federal government, as well as the municipal government and the private sector, and the willingness of all to retain the low-income sector in the central area of the city:

• Special state subsidies should have been established to allow for the construction of new housing or the acquisition of low-cost housing in the central area. At the time of the study, MINVU offered a special subsidy for urban renovation, for acquiring new or repaired housing. But the cost of this housing greatly exceeded the capacity of the poorest sectors.

• The municipality should have publicized a census of available real property, with building conditions, costs, etc., for low-income groups. At the time of the study, MINVU projects were under way, to be negotiated by groups providing land. Assistance to these groups, combined with a special subsidy, would help in carrying out a project of this kind for interstitial land in central areas.

• There was a need for support from municipal and private organizations, NGOs, the formation of groups geared to the solution of the housing problems in central areas, and assistance for the materialization of housing projects. Nevertheless, these case studies of the Franklin Project and the Andalucia I project demonstrated that, although needed, this support was insufficient, and financial aspects ultimately determined who would remain and who would have to leave.

• Flexibility was needed in the system of state subsidies to allow the dwellers to repair deteriorated housing.

• Mechanisms should have been established to permit the transfer of property of repaired housing to tenants, thus preventing the reparations from increasing the rent and the likelihood of the subsequent eviction of the inhabitants.

• Finally, at the state and municipal levels, conditions should have been created to economically motivate small construction companies to build social housing in central areas or repair deteriorated housing. This would create a supply and demand dynamic for the construction and repair of social housing in central areas.

Negative and positive effects on families relocated in outlying areas

After 10 years, what did the people who had been evicted from the central area of Santiago think about their relocation? At both La Pintana and San Bernardo, those surveyed indicated a similar, high degree of satisfaction with the housing they received. Nevertheless, when it came to measuring negative and positive effects, location was an important factor in each case. We must remember that during the survey, location not only meant physical distance from the central area of the city but also, in a marked way, a group of factors related to the quality of life in the new settlements. Thus, despite the similar physical distance between each relocation settlement and the central area, people’s levels of satisfaction after 10 years showed important differences: those relocated in a consolidated urban area were more satisfied than those relocated in the periphery. For example, those surveyed in La Pintana considered themselves markedly more isolated than those in San Bernardo — with seriously affected working conditions and expectations, deteriorated social networks as they became immersed in a world of poverty and marginality, a high level of discontent that they identified as bad atmosphere, and difficulty getting used to living in the area.

The negative effects of relocation were obvious from the responses of many of the families in La Pintana, who, despite owning their own homes, expressed the desire to move. Many even said they would prefer to rent housing in a more central sector than have their own homes in La Pintana.

The evolution of the work situation from the moment of eviction also appeared related to the socioeconomic characteristics of the relocation sites. As an immediate effect of their eviction, many people, especially those relocated in La Pintana, indicated they had lost their jobs because of the distance of the new settlements. In time, this perception of the negative effect of the evictions was confirmed: those evicted felt that their prospects for improvement in their work situation were limited, in contrast to the opinion of those who remained in the central area. Relocation to municipalities with higher levels of poverty and higher rates of unemployment seemed to caused these people to have marked pessimism about improvements in work or the family income.

Despite all this, the survey found high levels of satisfaction regarding the provision of services and their evolution. No one’s responses indicated a perception of deterioration in this aspect. This allowed us to understand the relation of the relocated parties’ negative expectations to their overall opinion of their new situation. Of those who had low expectations, an important percentage (60% in La Pintana [Table 13] and 85% in San Bernardo [Table 14]) considered that they were definitely better off in their new locations or that they were better off in some ways and worse off in others.

In summary, distinct elements of the processes studied stand out as determinants of the quality of the effects of the evictions. Consideration of these factors might have contributed to the minimization of those negative effects.

In the first place, the size of the group is an important factor. The greater levels of satisfaction expressed by those relocated in San Bernardo indicated that a smaller size of this population permitted better integration with the original inhabitants of the area, maintained cohesion in the group, and helped to create new ties.

A second factor comprised the characteristics of the families in the group. The selection process for the families relocated in San Bernardo maintained the constitution of a group already formed, residing in the same campamento, and this was reflected in increased integration in the new location and higher levels of getting used to the change. Consideration should have been given to the background of the group and the families in the formation of the groups to be relocated.

A third factor, which in our opinion influenced the impact of evictions was the concentration of extreme poverty in sectors of the city where the relocated families had been assigned. This was demonstrated by the responses of those relocated in La Pintana, who expressed a greater combination than those in San Bernardo of negative aspects related to the overall characteristics of the municipality, including bad atmosphere and quality of life. The relocation of evictees in areas of concentrated poverty made it difficult and in some cases impossible for the evicted families to become integrated; it contributed to their isolation from their friends and relatives.

The consolidation of the relocation sites lessened the negative effects at the beginning of the process of settlement. Improved levels of urban services and infrastructure, among others, made the installation process shorter and less painful. Nevertheless, it must be pointed out that neither having the basic urban services at the start, nor having the perception of their improvement, was enough to outweigh overall negative aspects.

The role of the municipality was also very important to the integration of relocated families. This controlled a combination of social services that facilitated the integration of the families. The problem lay in establishing the continuity of these services. Our case studies demonstrated that transferring these services from one municipality to another without resources could be a problem.


We thank the various people and institutions needed to make this research possible. The illustrious municipality of Santiago and Mayor Jaime Ravinet sponsored us, and Claudia Serrano and Isabel Palma provided us with valuable information and first-hand knowledge. We also thank the personnel from the central Vicariate, who participated in the housing programs for victims of the 1985 earthquake in central Santiago, and Architect Victor Bassauri of Taller Norte, who, in addition to providing information on housing programs, helped us out with our research. Lastly, we especially thank Paulina Matta, in charge of SUR editions, for her help in processing this article.

Chapter 3

Edmundo Morel and Manuel Mejia1

Ciudad Alternativa, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic


This chapter offers an analysis of the process of urban renewal and redevelopment and its attendant evictions as carried out in the city of Santo Domingo during the period of 1986 to 1992. This includes identification and description of official urban-development policies underlying state-promoted redevelopment projects during the period; description of the observed social, economic, cultural, political, and legal impacts that evictions had on residents of the neighbourhoods affected; and an analysis of how these residents and their organizations reacted to this phenomenon, how they involved themselves in the process, and, more broadly, how the urban poor perceived their situation and how they organized themselves.

This chapter has five parts. In the first, we present a brief description of the urban structure and the ways social spaces came to be segregated in the city of Santo Domingo. In the second, we discuss the phenomenon of evictions in Santo Domingo, looking at historical trends, the legal and institutional setting, and the methods and procedures by which evictions were conducted. In the third and fourth parts, we discuss case studies that showed some of the social dynamics involved, focusing on the strategies that the various players in these communities adopted and the roles they played in eviction proceedings and how the communities managed to reestablish their identities and to reorganize themselves in their new surroundings. In the fifth and sixth parts, we attempt to interpret and draw

1 In collaboration with Ramonina Brea.

some conclusions from the most important changes we observed during the period of study.

For purposes of this study, we took as points of reference three cases of evictions that occurred in working-class districts of the city of Santo Domingo:

• Barrio Guachupita, located on the edge of the historic centre of the city, along the western bank of the Ozama river — This was a neighbourhood where the government had built a series of multifamily dwellings facing the Avenue Francisco del Rosario Sánchez, just within the inner ring road. This altered part of the landscape of the original settlement. About 90% of the families who were displaced from this district were relocated.

• Barrio Maquiteria, located in the southeastern part of the city — When the Columbus Lighthouse monument was built, families living in the vicinity were evicted, and some were resettled in a government-built housing project nearby, in an area known as Los Coquitos de Los Mameyes.

Sabana Perdida, a settlement located in the northeastern part of the city, consisting of 54 barrios — Construction of the Avenue Charles de Gaulle within the outer ring road led to the destruction of part of this settlement, and most of the families were resettled in a nearby area with serviced lots provided by the state.

In each of these cases, we studied both the people who had been resettled in new surroundings, and those who were evicted without resettlement. In gathering data for this part of the study, we used qualitative interview techniques, with focus groups, in-depth interviews, and life histories.

We began with a system for categorizing the evictions that identified four problem areas for study: motivations, underlying conceptions, the concept and practice of democracy as evident in the behaviour of key actors, and the ways people identified themselves in terms of their community and their relationship to their own urban space.

The scope of evictions during the study period

Between 1986 and 1992, some 30 000 families were faced with destruction of their-homes, as part of the urban-renewal campaign of the state and the city of Santo Domingo. Assuming an average family size of six persons, this meant that about 180000 people were forced to move.

Most of the neighbourhoods affected were in the poorer districts of the city, and relocation typically involved moving people from the centre of town to the outskirts. Some families were relocated in tracts of single or multifamily apartments and homes built by the state in such areas as Almirante, Los Frailes, Sabana Perdida, La Victoria, Guaricano, and Los Alcarrizos Americanos.

These estimates were based on data from press stories and reports provided by the people affected and their organizations. There was no reliable official registry of displaced families. A number of factors cast doubt on the reliability of official reports: the sense of anarchy that prevailed, especially during the era of mass evictions (early 1987 to the end of 1988), inadequate and sporadic census-taking by works contractors, a counting system based on houses and not families, failure to take account of tenants and people whose economic status (or any other status), was “unclassifiable,” and the typical bureaucratic habit of underestimating the real impact of such moves.

And yet, a great percentage of the families who were evicted were offered no resettlement. Some of these families were given a certificate from the Dirección General de Bienes Nacionales (DGBN, department of national properties), the agency that was in charge of the process, which was supposed to guarantee their eventual relocation. Others received only a promise that the government would try to improve their situation. Still others seemed to have been given no hopes at all. Meanwhile, all these families had been living in huts or shelters built by the government, in rental accommodation in other parts of town, with family or relatives, or in the new squatter settlements that had sprung up around the edge of the city. At the time of our research, many of these families had been without a proper home for 3 or 4 years and had been constantly on the move around the city, seeking a home and a livelihood — with all the disruption and instability of their lives that this entailed.

These massive urban-renewal programs had thus significantly aggravated imbalances in the national economy and distracted attention from the search for real solutions to the issue of the people’s basic needs for employment, health, and education. Also, these programs were completely ineffective in overcoming the country’s serious housing shortage. Consider just how irrational this approach to urban planning was: if we tried to solve the current housing shortage with such projects, it would take an investment of 96000 million DOP, which amounted to the entire national budget for 15 years (in 1998, about 16 Dominican pesos [DOP] = 1 United States dollar [USD]). Clearly, this process could not continue. The government projects already implemented represented, in financial terms, a very questionable investment because they involved heavy subsidies, and far from meeting the housing needs of the poorest classes, they served mainly to satisfy the demands of middle-income groups.

On the other hand, the high import component of these investments led to accelerating inflation, which reached levels of more than 100% in 1990. This affected urban housing and building lots in a diversity of ways. House prices and rents were “dollarized,” thus putting them beyond the reach of most public and private wage earners. Low-income groups were forced to seek housing further and further from the centre of town and from their places of work. The situation was exacerbated by the lack of protection for evicted families, the illegality of the procedures, irregularities in payment of compensation, heavy doses of disinformation, poorly constructed houses, and disruption of daily life, with their attendant psychological effects on the people concerned. The process of eradicating their settlements was conducted with no thought to the social and economic effects of such upheaval, focusing instead — and even then, only at the best of times — on finding substitute living quarters and providing basic infrastructure. In none of the projects we investigated was there any assessment of the social costs.

Conditions in the original settlements were on the whole satisfactory — people had their protective family and social networks; they provided their own services or could get them close at hand; and they could find work and earn a living, or at least survive. People had a feeling of belonging to a specific space and a specific community, which made it possible to develop a sense of identity, of common history and memories (Morel and Villamán 1990). All this was usually lost with the move to new surroundings.

On one hand, many or even most of the people living in the so-called marginal areas of town made their living essentially in the informal or “underground” economy. This kind of activity could be pursued either within the neighbourhood itself or in other accessible parts of town. A move to some remote location thus implied a loss of access to both the market a person created and the networks that he or she was part of. On the other hand, the areas they were relocated to were for the most part lacking in even the bare essentials. It must be remembered that the settlements where they used to live were once just as short of services. In a sense, then, these people could be considered “urban pioneers,” forever being expelled and driven to start the urbanizing process all over again and develop a new area, from which they would once again be evicted.

In all of this, the state played the role of a purely external agent, interrupting the environment these people had created and acting as the vanguard of the habits and lifestyle of that “other city,” the officially recognized, or “formal” city. Seldom if ever did the state pay any attention to the neighbourhoods it planned to destroy, except to intervene as an agent of repression or to build projects around the periphery of the neighbourhoods (for example, the splitting of Guachu-pita and Ciénaga by Avenue Francisco del Rosario Sánchez, the separation of Villa Juana and Villa Consuelo by the Quinto Centenario expressway). The state thus had a history not only of avoiding its responsibilities to the housing needs of the poorer classes — which explained in large part the degree of overcrowding we witnessed — but also a history of failure to provide social services in the poor districts.

This land-clearance policy was based partly on straightforward economic or profit motives, tied more specifically to pressures for investment in real estate for commercial and tourist development. But it also had an ideological and cultural side, and thus a political one. On the cultural and ideological front, we could detect the thread of a broadly authoritarian culture of modernization running through the actions and official statements of successive governments. To this thrust we could add a certain set of cultural perceptions and values about the meaning of space, which led governments to promote projects that dissociated and segregated people. Urban development was based on a notion of social development directed to the concentration of incomes, spatial segregation, and social exclusion.

This was the framework of President Balaguer’s ideas about urban space, which to some extent made the flow of state funding a function of interests, needs, expectations, and demands as seen through his peculiar optic. With the new Ba-laguer government, after 1986, we still saw reflections of the cult of monumentality; the desire to make a mark in history with grand public works was just as much a feature of the more recent approaches to the use of city space as it was in the past. The government viewed the building of public works as fundamental to establishing its own political legitimacy. In this sense, one saw many points of continuity between this policy and the redevelopments undertaken in the “Twelve Years” of the earlier Balaguer administration, from 1966 to 1978. However, at the social-policy level, these motives seemed to go hand in hand with a deliberate attempt to disrupt and relocate centres of political opposition so as to keep the city “manageable” and safe for the government’s economic-policy goals.

We also found these three dimensions — economic, cultural–ideological, and political — at work among the people affected by urban-development policy. On the economic front, survival networks and mechanisms were completely disrupted because the conditions on which they were built had disappeared or had been transformed. In most cases, the savings and efforts that barrio dwellers had put into their communities and the role of the barrios as focal points of urbanization were ignored or discounted by those who wanted to push these people to the outskirts of town.

On the cultural and ideological front, the community’s identity was fractured, and existing mechanisms for mutual support and solidarity fell apart. Along with the culture of privatization, we saw a kind of lottery mentality, according to which a person had only to win a favour from the state if he or she aspired to a better life. Although this may have served to some extent to legitimize state action, it also helped to encourage an atomistic or individualistic approach to seeking solutions, and it was a constant frustration to those attempting to organize and involve people in collective undertakings.

Thus, eviction was a way to condition people by inducing or generating in them a set of values that would determine their attitudes, ambitions, and expectations and the approaches they took to solving their problems and to satisfying their needs. Thus, to the extent that social relations were still based on paternalism and dependence on hand outs, patronage, and “connections,” poor people were infused by word and deed with the idea that they had to find their own ways to channel their demands and satisfy their needs. The official terms for classifying the education, lifestyle, and social level of evicted persons betrayed an elitist and exclusivist approach, felt within the communities themselves, contributing to the differentiation and segregation of people’s demands and claims on the state.

At the political level, we saw the breakdown of community organizations, people’s long-standing traditions of mutual trust, and their will to offer resistance. The process of putting these together again had to start all over in a new location. Another angle to the process was potentially military, in the sense of making it easier to penetrate and control the city’s most strategic points. Then too, evictions were sure to disrupt electoral participation, by forcing changes to voters’ lists and constituency boundaries (COPADEBA 1990).

A new and significant feature in this urban renewal process, in contrast to those undertaken on previous occasions, was the greater degree to which people were prepared to resist. In earlier times, the people affected may have grumbled among themselves, but they organized no opposition and made no attempt at negotiation. Resistance was left up to individuals, who could seldom stand up to the power of officialdom. And yet, in the period under study, we observed what we would call a current of opposition and a movement to challenge both the form and the content of urban-renewal projects.

We should note that people’s reactions to these processes were not all the same. To the extent that such projects held out hope for meeting the legitimate and deeply rooted longings of people for better housing, this could lead to different expectations, depending on people’s situations. For example, the reaction of a tenant would not necessarily be the same as that of his or her landlord, nor would members of an organized group see things in the same way as those who had no such affiliations. What was new about the reactions we observed was that organized residents’ groups seemed to help shape the way other people responded. The resulting capacity to put up resistance and propose alternatives stood in sharp contrast to that in earlier times, when people were simply evicted under deplorable circumstances.

Urban structure and the segregation of social spaces

Over the previous 30 years, the physical face and the human dynamics of Santo Domingo had gone through a series of major changes. This continuous process of modernization had symbolically brought people into the world of modern consumerism, values, and lifestyles through the influence of the media, but it had also increasingly excluded these same people from the material benefits of that world by denying them opportunities to work (Villamán 1992).

The fall of the Trujillo regime in 1961 opened the floodgates all over the country — suddenly, the closed-door policies and barriers to internal migration, typical of any dictatorship, disappeared. Numerous poor communities that had for years been hemmed in began to move toward the main cities, driven by the precarious nature of life in the poor towns of the interior and drawn by the opportunities for social mobility that the style of development at the time seemed to offer. The flow of migrants from the countryside, natural demographic growth, and a new model of industrial development, based on import substitution and the concentration of public investment in the major cities, combined to contribute to a rapid process of urbanization. The proportion of the population living in cities rose from 16.6% in 1920 and 23.8% in 1950 to 52.0% by the time of the census in 1981. Between 1920 and 1981, the number of towns in the Dominican Republic with more than 5 000 inhabitants rose from 7 to 60 (ONAPLAN 1983). The most pronounced feature of this new settlement pattern was the dominant position assumed by Santo Domingo. The metropolitan area of the capital began to account for 30% of the national population, more than 50% of the urban population, and between 70 and 90% of industry, commerce, services, and administration.

In the absence of any urban-development policy — the last city plan for Santo Domingo was drawn up in 1956 — and with a management style that encouraged speculation in the appropriation, distribution, and use of urban space, the cities simply mushroomed helter-skelter. Santo Domingo grew from 1.5 km2 in 1945 to more than 200 km2. Expansion at first occurred mainly along the city’s east–west axis. In the more recent years, the main thrust of growth was to the north, into highly productive agricultural lands, either through spontaneous seizure or direct state encouragement. This was true of areas like Los Alcarrizos, Pantojas, Guaricano, and the expansion of Villa Mella toward Sabana Perdida and of La Victoria toward the Hainamosa area along the Mella highway. This intraurban mobility was driven mainly by state-sponsored urban-renewal projects of the more recent years (Cela 1992) and made it increasingly difficult to provide and coordinate proper services.

To this we must add the markedly regressive distribution of space: in 1981, 64% of the population of the National District (Distrito Nacional) — living in the so-called squatter settlements — occupied only 20% of the total urban space, whereas the remaining 35% occupied 80% of that space. This could be seen in the distribution of social classes within the city, among the following zones (ADN-CI 1992):

Colonial and Nueva —These were middle-class residential areas undergoing a transition to services zones. They constituted a very small area (25 000 inhabitants), with an average density of 156 persons/ha.

The eastern zone of the city — This zone was roughly equally middle class (41%) and working class (44%), with a few poor barrios (15%). It had about 460 000 inhabitants, giving it a relatively low density of 123 persons/ha, and was cut off from the rest of the city by the Ozama and Isabela rivers.

The northern zone — This zone included the poor barrios along the Ozama and Isabela rivers and neighbourhoods on their way to becoming slums. Working-class areas accounted for 60%; the poor areas, 25%. This zone had the highest density of all: 417 persons/ha (or more than 580 persons/ha if one included the poor barrios’).

The area to the east of Avenue Luperón and south of Avenue John F. Kennedy — This was mainly middle class (45%) and upper middle class (46%), with pockets of poor barrios. It had about 800000 inhabitants, distributed among 35 neighbourhoods, with a relatively low density of 76 persons/ha, and included service and recreation zones.

The northwest area of the city — This was where the better-off people tended to move. This was a thinly populated zone, with only 65 000 people and a density of 26 persons/ha. It comprised eight neighbourhoods, of which 75% were upper class; the rest, middle class. This part of the city also included undeveloped areas.

The zone to the east of the city — This included districts near the Herrera industrial park and the satellite town of Los Alcarrizos. It comprised a total of 14 neighbourhoods, with some 300000 people. Most of these were poor barrios (63%) and working-class areas (28%). Because they were relatively large, these neighbourhoods had a lower density, at only 47 persons/ha, than the poor or working-class districts in the northern zone.

The zone that included the two satellite towns of Sabana Perdida and Guaricano — This was where many migrants and evictees had settled. With fewer than 100 000 people, it had a relatively low density, thanks to its physical size.

This spatial distribution could be correlated with a regressive income distribution. The period between 1984 and 1989 saw an alarming concentration of incomes, thanks to the effects of the economic crisis, inflation, and public-spending policies. In 1989, the poorest 34.3% of families received only 8.8% of national income, whereas the richest 11.8% received 44.2%. For 1989, it was estimated that 56% of the country’s population was living below the poverty line, and of these, 35% was living in absolute poverty. This situation probably became worse with the 13% drop in real gross domestic product between 1989 and 1991. In 1992, it was estimated that 4.2 million Dominicans (or more than half the population) were poor and that 2.5 million were living in absolute poverty.

Until the beginnings of the 1980s, the pattern of urban growth, and particularly the expansion of Santo Domingo (ONAPLAN 1983), had produced development in accordance with an externally oriented growth model. This involved heavy state involvement in the economy, relative stagnation in agriculture, uneven industrial growth, and an accelerating process of “marginalization” (Duarte 1980) of the urban population, as a result of their low degree of absorption into the formal labour market and the unbalanced use of the urban space (land, housing, industry, services; Chantada 1991a, b). The 1980s saw the beginnings of two basic socioeconomic trends. The first was the restructuring of the nation’s productive capacity, under the influence of the “extroverted-accumulation” model, based on tourism, customs free zones, and, to a lesser extent, agroindustry as poles of growth. The second was the economic policy of 1986–90, which was a massive public-investment plan focused on the major urban centres (Mercedes 1991). These trends have had several significant impacts on the social space:

• The price of urban land rose, and the landholding structure tended to become more concentrated;

• Thousands of families were evicted and removed to outlying districts, lacking community infrastructure and basic social services;

• Regressive trends in the housing market intensified;

• Urban sprawl accelerated as the capital itself grew and new suburban centres formed and spread into rural parts of the National District; and

• The so-called informal economy flourished: the rate of open unemployment in Santo Domingo rose from 21% in 1981 to almost 30% in 1990, whereas informal employment began to generate up to 65% of jobs in some districts of the city. (Informal employment accounted for 32.5% of the National District’s economically active population in 1983.)

The housing problem was worth particular attention. During these years, the housing market became more exclusivist and regressive, thanks to inflation in the cost of land and high construction costs provoked by government building programs and their demand for inputs and foreign exchange. This also helped to drive up interest rates and shorten lending terms, which in turn led to a sharp drop in private residential construction.

According to Ayuntamiento del Distrito Nacional (ADN, National District government) (ADN-CI 1992), between 1987 and 1991, 40% of the 1.550 billion USD total budget for public-sector construction went into housing and urban development, with 60% of this investment concentrated in the country’s southeastern region. Of this, in turn, 70% went to the city of Santo Domingo, underlining the high concentration of urban investment in the capital city.

The state had a virtual monopoly over housing construction. As the purchasing power of the middle classes eroded, the private financial sources that were supposed to supply credit to the middle classes shifted their focus to more profitable sectors. Only the highest income groups had access to mortgage financing. Because the state owned most of the land surrounding the city and thus dominated the real-estate market, one could expect to see future projects take shape in these areas (such as Sabana Perdida, Guaricano, Los Alcarrizos).

The increase in Santo Domingo’s housing deficit for 1981–88 was estimated at 75 000 units (ONAPLAN et al. 1987; ADN-CI 1992), which when added to the shortage at the beginning of that period gave a cumulative qualitative deficit of 237 808 units out of an existing total stock of 365 000 — and 40 400 of those units were classed as unlivable. This suggested that about 65% of the housing in Santo Domingo was deficient, and 11% was unusable. Studies also showed that the housing deficit was mainly a matter of quality and related to poor construction and services, compounded by the lack of community infrastructure and uncontrolled urban sprawl (ADN-CI 1992). The informal sector was in fact the main builder of housing, accounting for about 80% of all units. Families paid for them from their own savings, with no financial or technical assistance, and they were usually built on unserviced land with no legal title.

This study (ADN-CI 1992) also suggested that 14 000 new units every year would be required to meet the demand for new housing. At the then current rate of construction, the deficit each year would be about 8 000 units, unless, as the study indicated,

the official sector makes some profound changes to type of housing it builds (finished residences), its financing (highly subsidized) and its main motivation (urban renewal that usually increases shortages, since many of those displaced are not relocated), and unless the private sector can put significant funding into housing.

Evictions in Santo Domingo

Overall trends

The phenomenon of evictions in the city of Santo Domingo long predated the period under study. Indeed, since the 1950s, the state had been uprooting great numbers of people in the course of reshaping the city and had provoked massive intraurban migration toward the outskirts. Together with the influx of people from the countryside, this had had among its main results the uncontrolled growth of the urban perimeter.

We identified three key periods in this history (Cela 1992):

• The latter part of the Trujillo era;

• The Twelve Years of Balaguer’s previous government, 1966–78; and

• The new Balaguer government, after 1986.

The first period was highlighted by the building of the Duarte bridge, in the early 1950s, and the demolition of part of Villa Duarte, whose families were moved to the barrio known as Guachupita. This district was later to take in families displaced by construction of the Luís Eduardo Aybar (“Morgan”) Hospital, and the Social Improvement (Mejoramiento Social) and Maria Auxiliadora settlements. That decade also saw construction of the Espaillat and Luperón barrios, through expropriation of the sugar cane fields belonging to the Vicini family in the northern part of the city. The occupants of those lands were sent to the Gualey and Los Guandules settlements, located on unserviced land, and were given usufruct papers by DGBN.

Starting in 1967, in the wake of the unstable political era that followed the fall of Trujillo, the state once more began construction work. Its objectives, from a certain historical distance, could be summarized as follows (Cela 1992):

To sanitize highly visible districts like Matahambre and Honduras — In the same spirit, multifamily dwellings were built as a kind of visual screen, or “Potemkin village,” at the entrances to the Duarte and Sánchez bridges and along major thoroughfares, like avenues 27 de Febrero and Francisco del Rosario Sánchez.

To build a proper roadway infrastructure — The old project to build an inner ring road was restarted but reached only as far as Avenue Padre Castellanos. Avenues 27 de Febrero, John F. Kennedy, Winston Churchill, and Luperón were also built at that time.

To embellish the city — This in fact gave it an appearance quite out of keeping with its predominantly working-class nature. Major undertakings in this regard included the restoration of the old colonial city and Independence Park, the Zoological and Botanical Gardens, and the Paseo de los Indios and improvements to their surrounding areas, including the Los Millones district.

To open state-owned lands on the outskirts to relocate working-class families expelled from the city centre — First, the industrial zone of Herrera was extended right up to the planned satellite city of Las Caobas, in an effort to clean up or disguise visible slums like El Ancón and La Ciénaga (for a detailed analysis of this process, see Hirujo [1991]); later, the government built the Los Alcarrizos area, and finally, Sabana Perdida.

This construction plan involved shifting thousands of families around the city and accounted for about one-third of the national budget in those years — and yet, most of the projects had nothing to do with working-class people. The people who were uprooted had to relocate, either voluntarily or under compulsion, to new lands that had few if any basic services, that were far from the urban centre, and that belonged to the state.

The evictions that took place during the study period could be divided into the following stages:

• The massive-eviction stage, from early 1987 to the end of 1988;

• The accelerated-construction stage, from the end of 1988 to mid-1990;

• The period of crisis and adjustment, from mid-1990 to early 1991; and

• The 1991/92 period.

The massive-eviction stage (1987/88)

In mid-1986, President Balaguer returned to power, bringing with him the construction policy that had been a basic feature of his public-investment policy and his management style during the Twelve Years. Low-cost housing projects were started up again (Guachupita, Los Mameyes, etc.); urban road improvements were undertaken (the Quinto Centenario Expressway, the extension to José Contreras, the outer ring road, etc.); and several monumental projects were launched (the Columbus Lighthouse, the National Aquarium, rebuilding of the ancient city walls and the Plaza de Arms, etc.), as well as a number of middle-class housing subdivisions (José Contreras, De Delgado, Faro a Colón, etc.).

The state’s undertakings in this period were massive and overwhelming. They gave the impression of “a bombed-out city, with whole blocks demolished and thousands of families living in shacks, while others had to try their luck, for better or worse, in the outlying, poorly served areas.” When cries of alarm were raised by community groups in the northern zone (the parte alta, or upper town) of the city in early 1987, a public debate ensued over the implications of the Indicative Development Plan for the Northern Zone of Santo Domingo, prepared by Oficina Nacional de Planificación (national planning office), ADN, and the German Gessellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ, society for technical cooperation), and sponsored by the president himself (ONAPLAN—ADN-GTZ 1987).

The state proposal focused on construction of the outer ring road and the advantages that it would have, not only as a way to ensure roadway interconnections but also as an axis for future development and growth around the perimeter of the city. A basic premise of this plan was that it would help solve the city’s housing problems by providing serviced lots, houses, infrastructure, and urban amenities for low-income families.

The official plan came to represent an implicit plan for urban renewal of the entire city, as it embraced work already undertaken since 1986 in various areas of Santo Domingo. Thus, although it referred specifically only to the northern zone, it was closely related to projects under way or about to be launched all over the city. Various critiques of this proposal pointed to a set of underlying features and intents (Cela 1987; COPADEBA 1987; Somocurcio and Florian 1988):

• The plan was to attract commercial and tourist investment to the centre of the city by increasing the value of urban land as a basis for the project’s financial viability. Thus, the purpose behind the renewal of the inner city, with its focus on the building of the inner ring road, was to promote the city’s tourism potential for the 1992 celebrations of the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ voyage. Along with this roadway, renewal was planned for a group of settlements (Guachupita, Los Guan-dules, Gualey, Las Cañitas, 24 de Abril, Simón Bolívar, Cristo Rey, La Zurza, and other nearby barrios), which, with inclusion of Villa Francisca, would affect about 400 000 people.

• The plan was to make space available for commercial and industrial investment by building the outer ring road. This would establish a road link between the seaport, the airport, and two planned industrial zones.

• The plan was to get rid of the troublesome elements in the working-class barrios of the upper town by shunting them to the outskirts. Memories of the 1965 revolts and the riots of 1984 suggested it would be wise to eliminate this centre of political protest and opposition.

As early as October 1986, Comité para la Defensa de los Derechos Barriales (COPADEBA, committee for the defence of barrio rights) was warning inhabitants of the northern zone that they faced eviction. This organization was formed in 1979 and was by 1987 very active in a number of initiatives aimed to create international awareness of the problems concerning barrio rights in Santo Domingo. It conducted participatory research on conditions in the barrios of the northern zone; it organized mass protests against the designs of Indicative Plan; it contacted other popular-action groups in neighbourhoods threatened with eviction; it held meetings with technical advisors, church representatives, and various authorities; it used the social communications media to spread information and revelations; it organized block committees all over the area; and it picketed DGBN and the German Embassy, which was involved in the project through the GTZ. This social movement grew to significant proportions during 1987 and even managed to take part in the world Habitat seminar in Berlin to seek international support for these protests.

In November 1987, there was an assembly of 126 delegates representing block committees in 20 barrios and 21 community organizations. This assembly adopted the People’s Protest Against Evictions, based on the results of the research conducted earlier. For the first time, organized residents were proposing an alternative approach to renewal based on popular participation, as opposed to the prevailing state-led forms of urbanization. In this way, the organization of barrio residents became, itself, an interlocutor with the state, not merely to convey protests but to make proposals. This represented a quantum leap in the rise of the urban people’s movement. The scope of the official plan was at last reined in, as a result of the unbeatable combination of strong resistance from barrio dwellers and their organizations in the northern zone; repeated questions raised by religious figures, intellectuals, and social institutions; charges from international bodies of violations of human rights; and, finally, the economic crisis that cut off the State’s ability to invest in major construction projects. Nevertheless, the evictions continued in the centre (Villa Juana, Villa Consuelo, San Carlos, Villa Francisca, Guachupita), in the southwest (los Kilómetros, on the Sánchez highway), the southeast (Maquiteria and Faro a Colón), and the northwest (Sabana Perdida). A research report by COPADEBA in 1990 claimed that more than 40 barrios were taken over and that more than 20 000 families were uprooted during this period.

In 1988, a committee of experts assigned by the Habitat International Coalition and MISEREOR performed an evaluation that provided direct confirmation of the charges leveled internationally. As a result of their conclusions and recommendations and of the approach that resulted from the earlier proposals of the barrio organizations, more than 100 people from diverse social and professional groups in the country met with experts from countries of Central America, the Cono Sur (the Southern Cone of South America), Europe, and Mexico, at an International Seminar (For a City with Popular Participation) and set out the Alternative City (Ciudad Alternativa), sponsored by COPADEBA and Centro Dominicano de Asesoría e Investigaciones Legales (CEDAIL, Dominican centre for legal assistance and research), as an alternative to the state’s urban-development strategy. This new vision proposed, among other things, the upgrading of the barrios, the strengthening of grass-roots organizations, the development of a neighbourhood cultural identity, the preservation of ecological resources, the implementation of a participatory methodology, the involvement of the state in the proposed solutions, the decentralization and democratization of municipal government, and support for the claims of barrio dwellers already suffering from, or threatened with, eviction. Later, in January 1989, a multidisciplinary team of experts was formed to work with the city’s grass-roots organizations in what represented a new experiment in this country: popular groups collaborating with technical specialists to formulate and channel proposals to improve their neighbourhoods and defend their rights as citizens. A new avenue was thus opened for proposals and negotiations, which brought an entirely new dimension to the process.

The accelerated-construction stage (1988/89)

With the 1990 elections approaching and the growing urgency of preparations for the 500th anniversary, the expected visit of the Pope, the unveiling of the Columbus Lighthouse, and so on, the pace of work was speeded up on all those projects that had provoked such a wave of evictions in the previous stage. This stage saw the burgeoning of the peripheral settlements, with the inflow of people driven from their homes by the state and the consequent disintegration of neighbourhood communities.

The crisis and adjustment stage (1990/91)

The elections of 1990 and the attendant focus of state funds on politically motivated activities coincided with the economic distortions caused by the uncoordinated recovery policies launched in 1986 to decrease construction investment, which had been financed largely by simply printing money. Inflation in 1990 reached the three-digit level. Only a few projects continued, and these were chronically behind schedule. New projects were postponed, awaiting the electoral results and the impact of the International Monetary Fund-inspired financial-policy adjustments. The country entered what we might call a waiting period.

On 1 May, 1990, the Declaration of the Evictees of Santo Domingo was issued. Some 5000 people, representing about 8000 families who had been evicted more than 3 years earlier met at the Club Mauricio Báez, at the instigation of COPADEBA and with the support of priests and various organizations, and presented their analysis of the current situation:

• Families were facing excessive rents, and promised housing and apartments were late;

• Families were not paid for improvements they made, or payment was devalued by inflation;

• Few apartments were allotted to displaced families (17% in Villa Francisca, 10% in Guachupita, 8.5% in the eastern zone, 6.7% in Calero, none in Villa Juana, Villa Consuelo, Villa Maria, and Los Farallones de Cristo Rey);

• There was no relationship between the number of apartments under construction and the number of displaced families, and many units were being allotted to people who had not been evicted;

• There were no common standards for projects with respect to down payments, treatment of tenants, etc. (institutions responsible for the process had no clear standards); and

• Some of the projects had serious design and construction flaws.

The reasons underlying these problems were summarized as follows:

• Private manipulation of the projects by contractors who enjoyed authority even over the police;

• The authoritarian nature of the projects and the absence of any public input into them;

• Complete lack of information on the relocation process;

• Frequent resort to verbal, physical, and institutional violence;

• Discrimination among affected families for economic and political reasons; and

• Lack of planning and consistency in project execution.

The following demands were accordingly issued:

• Neighbourhood groups had to be allowed to review the lists of eligible beneficiaries for each project;

• Finished apartments had to be handed over to beneficiaries, before 16 May (election day), in accordance with the chronological order of those lists;

• DGBN had to publish, before 16 May, the number of apartments under construction in each project and the revised list of beneficiaries;

• Promises to give lots in Almirante or Pantojas to the tenants of Faro a Colón had to be kept; and

• Neighbourhood committees had to be involved in resolving cases in which there are not enough apartments.

Despite this concerted action, the results were disappointing. The unity that people momentarily showed soon proved to be weak and tentative. Disputes among the groups involved made the problems of coordinating efforts worse. Many of these problems arose from bilateral negotiations that some of the groups were engaged in with the authorities. Meanwhile, Dr Balaguer was reelected for the 1990/94 term. Although this inspired hope among evicted families that the projects would now be completed and that they might at last be relocated, it led to serious concerns in other areas that the long-slated evictions would now start to be carried out in their communities.

The 1991/92 period

In September 1991, the state suddenly sent the army into the barrios of La Ciénaga and Los Guandules, ordered the inhabitants to be evacuated immediately, and started to evict them — all of this in complete disregard for talks that were then under way with officials and experts to try to resolve the serious health problems in those barrios. With its decrees 358 and 359, the state took over the very three settlements that had been trying to introduce and manage real urban improvement in Santo Domingo: La Ciénaga, Los Guandules, and La Zurza, located on the western banks of the Ozama and Isabela rivers.

Along with citing the arguments that the places were unhealthy, polluted, dangerous, and uninhabitable, the state spoke of the need to open up space for business and tourist investment, to beautify the entrance to the city for the fifth centenary, and to remove obstacles in the path of urban schemes (in temporary suspension) for which it was hoped there would soon be more public funding.

One year after these presidential decrees, the following situation prevailed:

• More than 200 families were removed from La Ciénaga and gradually resettled in various housing projects or lots on the city’s periphery (Los Alcarrizos, La Victoria, Guaricano, Ciudad del Almirante).

• More than 100 families were evicted from La Zurza to make room for a water-treatment plant and an adjacent avenue. Most of these families were left homeless for several months in temporary shelters nearby, waiting for their promised relocation, and were finally moved after pressure was applied from local organizations.

• The self-help efforts that had been under way in these barrios, whether in an organized or spontaneous fashion, were paralyzed. The military occupation of the area, the state of siege that prevailed, and the impossibility of getting material resources resulted in complete stagnation or deterioration of living conditions.

Recent evictions had not been limited to these settlements. They had also been recorded in other parts of the city — in the vicinity of the Luís E. Aybar Hospital, El Timbeque, Villa Duarte, etc.

An important feature of this stage was the progress being made in negotiations between DGBN and the inhabitants and their representatives. The credentials of the people who spoke for the barrios — priests, neighbourhood councils, and barrio committees — had been progressively recognized, which was unheard of in the earlier stages. This helped in several ways:

• It encouraged a greater exchange of information between the state agency and the barrio organizations;

• The families who had been evicted were more clearly identified, thanks to census-taking by the barrio groups and expert assistance (as in La Ciénaga, for example), which allowed the community to more easily monitor fulfilment of the agreements;

• Families were helped to move from one home to another and given some advance knowledge of where they were going;

• More thought was given to the situation of tenants; and

• Evictions had less of the massive, compulsory character that they had had a few years previously.

Thus, the recent agreements between DGBN and the community priests represented a real step forward. These agreements established procedures to be followed:

• Assessment standards were established for rating housing;

• A common policy was established for the treatment of tenants (provision of a lot and materials for building a house or an award of 5000DOP);

• The right of every owner of a dwelling to a dwelling was established;

• Agreements were to be negotiated before demolition started;

• A ratio was to be observed between the number of evictions and the number of housing units under construction;

• When relocation did not proceed house to house, new units were to be assigned in a strict order of chronological priority;

• The evicted people’s organizations themselves were to draw up these lists; and

• Committee meetings were to be held every 2 weeks until evictions ended and everyone was resettled.

Clearly, things were not done in these ways in 1987 and 1988, at the time of the most violent evictions. Also, although this uprooting still had the predictable effects of scattering people to the suburbs and breaking up their social networks, the negotiations and agreements that then took place did represent an improvement over past practice.

The legal context

The first thing that struck one about the whole issue of human settlements in the Dominican Republic was the obsolescence of the existing legal framework. The accelerated process of urbanization and expansion of the country’s one great metropolis took place within a legal structure built in the 1940s and never updated to take account of the socioeconomic changes since then. True, in the early 1970s, an attempt was made to revise Law 675 on Construction, Urban Development and Public Improvements, but this move was frustrated by the National Congress.

Over these years a de facto situation developed: about 70% of the population of Santo Domingo and a similar proportion of other towns in the country lived in working-class barrios and poor shantytowns and made up the so-called informal sector. This sector produced 85% of the housing, which was most of the time built on state-owned land, where people had almost no access to financing, materials, or technical assistance. Despite their importance in shaping the urban space, these people were left out of prevailing regulations and laws, and in addition to being obsolete in terms of the formal sector, these regulations and laws made no attempt to cover the informal sector.

It must be admitted that this situation was partly due to the generally permissive attitude that the state took toward the barrios that sprang up on the state’s properties but also to the fact that it gave people direct encouragement to build squatter settlements on its unused lands. Then, once the land value increased because of the efforts of the inhabitants, they were caught up in the process of evictions. In this way, “the State allows ‘illegal urban development’ as a reflection of a tacit, or sometimes explicit, pact between the State (owner of the land), the municipal government (the legal and administrative authority) and the legal owners of urban lands,” with this implicit clause: “that such settlements shall pose no obstacle to the creation of new building lots, when the real estate market and construction capital are ready to build” (Chantada 1991b).

To appreciate the legal workings of the evictions that took place, we need to draw a clear distinction between three types of occupants: (1) those who owned their house and the land beneath it; (2) those who owned only their house or certain improvements; and (3) the tenants.

In the first case, if a family facing eviction owned the house and the land, it enjoyed formal legal protection. The landownership provisions of the Dominican Constitution and Law 344 provided a legal procedure for state expropriations, whereby once a political decision was made to conduct a renewal project in a specific geographic location, the state was empowered to issue an executive decree that these lands and buildings were of “public interest” and to purchase them for its purposes as long as it complied with legal procedures and formalities.

This legal structure provided two ways for the state to acquire properties decreed to be of public interest: it could negotiate an amicable settlement with the landowner with respect to the price of the property and thereby avoid the need to enforce consent through trickery or physical or psychological violence; or, if it had to, the state could go to court and seek expropriation and an order setting the price for the property in question. The court had then to determine whether expropriation was justified and, if so, set a fair price. These procedures were not followed by the state in the evictions under study. The owners of the properties were for the most part never told how the value of their holdings was to be determined — their values were manipulated arbitrarily by the private contractors hired for each project. On top of this, many other irregularities occurred; frequent physical intimidation and aggression took place; payments for demolished houses were often late, with no adjustment for inflation; houses were sometimes knocked down before people had even moved out of them; legal contracts guaranteeing the right to a new home were never honoured; and so on.

In the second type of situation, in which the family owned only the house or buildings but not the land beneath, Law 39, of 1966, came into play. This law empowered the state to regularize the legal situation of people with limited financial means by granting them the state-owned lot on which they had built a dwelling. This legal provision, moreover, recognized ownership of the property by the person who had developed it, regardless of whether there had been a formal transfer of title. In the preamble to that law, it was expressly recognized that poor people who had built dwellings on state lands had acted from the justifiable motive of seeking shelter for their families and that this represented a very real human problem that had to be resolved by the rules of social justice. It provided then that the state had to adopt measures, as part of its social-welfare policy, to convert squatters on state-owned land into owners if they had built or were building a dwelling. Despite all this, when it came to building housing projects and constructing new roadways, government representatives and construction contractors proceeded to evict occupants from housing on state properties, on the presumption that these houses were illegal and that their occupants were trespassers. This helped to explain the irregular treatment and procedures that occurred in removing these families from homes where they had been living in some cases for years.

The third category — the tenants — represented a group of people who were especially vulnerable in their dealings with the state. Not only were they denied the right to obtain their own homes, they suffered violations of their legally guaranteed rights with respect to their status as renters of dwellings for family use. Tenants were exceptionally successful in securing apartments in the barrio of Guachupita, the result of an organized and intense struggle on their part. Through negotiations and agreements with the state — including an agreement signed with a recently formed committee of priests to regularize procedures — the tenants were able to obtain compensation in terms of building lots, cash, and materials that would have been unheard of in the previous years.

However, normally as soon as the government had arrived at an agreement with the owners, the tenants were allowed only a very short time to get out of their homes and were given a small amount of money to rent shelter elsewhere. In this way, the state ignored its legal duties to protect tenants in family housing. Under the provisions of the Civil Code (articles 1742 and 1743), when the state acquired dwellings occupied by tenants, the contract that existed between the previous owner and the tenant remained valid and could not be materially changed. The state simply took the place of the original landlord and acquired thereby his or her rights and obligations.

The evictions violated many valid legal provisions, including

• The legal procedures and formalities for the eviction of persons (articles 258 and 262 of the Lands Registry Law);

• The right of domicile (article 8 [3] of the Constitution, and article 184 of the Penal Code);

• The right to protection from physical and psychological violence, including willful bodily injury (article 8[1] of the Constitution, on the inviolability and physical integrity of the person, and articles 309 ff. of the Penal Code); and

• The right to be informed (which was totally overlooked in the process).

Urban planning

The laws of the Dominican Republic assigned responsibility for urban planning to municipal governments and the National Planning Office, which fell under the purview of Technical Secretary to the President. Urban planning and management were governed principally by the following laws: Law 6232, of 1963, which established a process for urban planning and created urban planning offices at the municipal level, and Law 675 on Urban Development and Improvement, of 1944. In Santo Domingo, in addition, Law 262, of 1975, created a commission responsible for establishing and recommending to the executive a draft master plan for the city, and decree 339, of 1978, created the Master Plan Office, under the Technical Secretary to the President.

Despite these provisions, the municipal or National District government was a mere onlooker as far as the central government’s urban activities were concerned. For the most part, projects were not submitted for prior municipal approval, as required by law. The fact is that given the concentration of power in the hands of the central government and given the traditional financial fragility of the municipality — which had always been dependent, even for its operating budget, on subsidies from the president — the idea of a “municipal space” was just a figment of the legal imagination when it came to dealing with urban problems.

State organs involved

The programs for urban renewal and their associated eviction policy during the study period were carried out within the following basic institutional framework:

THE PRESIDENCY OF THE REPUBLIC — Most of the projects were carried out under the direct supervision of the president’s office. Between 1987 and 1989, the time of massive evictions and accelerated construction, 92.1% of all government housing expenditure was provided from the presidency (Santana and Rather 1992), and this amount represented in turn 99.8% of the central government’s spending in that area.

To conduct this work, two offices were created in 1986: the Office of Coordination and Supervision of State Works and the Office of Supervisory Engineers for State Works. They operated under the direct orders of the president, in the management style typical of his previous times in government, that is, through a kind of parallel state bureaucracy.

In 1989, the Office of Coordination and Supervision of State Works alone accounted for 262.4 million DOP out of total housing expenditures of 736.8 million DOP. The remaining 474.4 million DOP was presumably spent by the Office of Supervisory Engineers for State Works.

DGBN — This agency came under the Ministry of Finance and was the key player in the eviction process. It also provided the venue for negotiations among the engineers, priests, and neighbourhood organizations. From the viewpoint of the various players, the style with which it conducted the processes was heavily influenced by whoever headed the agency at the time. Thus, people spoke of the era of Emma Valois, Minú Torres, Nazir Tejada, and Rincón Martínez. As already noted, paternalism was a hallmark of this country’s institutional management. Two facts — that everything was more or less subordinate to the president’s wishes, and that the engineers in charge of the works wielded great influence over the agency’s decisions and actions — were both fully consistent with such paternalism.

The demolition brigades sent in by NGBN were highly symbolic in the eyes of the barrio dwellers. The sight of these brigades, with their power shovels and excavators, struck fear and indignation into people’s hearts. One of the most notorious features of this agency was how thoroughly corrupt it was. Even state officials and engineers spoke out against this aspect. Influence peddling and conflicts of interest were constant factors throughout the process.

Policy content and implementation

In formal terms, barrio families affected by any urban-renewal project were supposed to be able to negotiate with the state on various points:

• To establish their status and thus to define whether they were the owners of their buildings or tenants;

• To assess the value of the buildings (the value of a dwelling was supposed to serve as the basis for a down payment to purchase an apartment);

• To develop the provisional agreement (a document recognizing a person as entitled to a dwelling in the new project);

• To obtain the transfer order (the final document legalizing the provisional agreement and thereby formally binding the state); and

• To conduct a socioeconomic assessment of family characteristics to serve as a basis for proper placement of families, as to floor or level, in the new buildings.

The state contracted with construction firms to build the new housing, and these in turn subcontracted the people who were to undertake the work. The construction firm was responsible for completion and quality of the project itself, as well as for providing temporary shelter for people who had been evicted, and it was supposed to negotiate with these people, along with DGBN.

In practice, however — and with only a few exceptions — the most characteristic feature of the evictions carried out in Santo Domingo was violence. Structural violence — expressed in ever greater impoverishment of the barrio dwellers — was compounded by physical, verbal, and institutional violence. There were many instances of this:

• Houses were demolished while their inhabitants were still inside, or when the owners were away;

• Paramilitary shock troops were used to intimidate and terrorize people and force them to abandon their homes;

• Household goods were vandalized or stolen;

• Notice of eviction was given only on the very day a family was to be thrown out;

• People were kidnapped;

• Pregnant women and children were subjected to physical violence;

• Public services to the barrios were cut off — a pressure tactic;

• Families were insulted and threatened; and

• The police acted as judges.

The way the police acted, as if they had judicial powers, was reminiscent of the old ways of wielding political power in the country. During the Twelve Years, military power displaced the judiciary and the police and the army dispensed summary justice in the streets or in the prisons. Also, before that time, the dictatorship of Trujillo had in fact concentrated all power in the army’s hands.

We found in our case studies that the degree and shape of the violence depended on the location of the barrio, the specific purposes of the project, the level of opposition or resistance that people offered, whether or not their response was organized, and the operating style of the engineer in charge of the project. This last factor was a hallmark of the process. The works contracts were usually handed out to construction companies, not through public tendering but through executive discretion on the basis of political, personal, or family connections. But the most important feature concerned the powers wielded by the project engineer, who wielded these powers with complete disregard for the institutional framework. The project engineer was empowered to

• Make summary valuations of properties;

• Decide which areas were to be demolished;

• Assign and distribute housing;

• Call in police and military force;

• Form paramilitary bands;

• Employ verbal and physical violence;

• Set time limits for the eviction of families;

• Set housing-quality standards;

• Construct buildings;

• Decide where and how people would be moved;

• Conduct a census of families;

• Determine the numbering and precedence of units; and

• Deliver cheques to evictees.

We might say that a kind of engineerocracy existed, in which formal channels and mechanisms were largely or totally ignored. DGBN became at times no more than a channel for the decisions and actions of the contractors. It was only through sustained appeals by the people, their organizations, and mediators, that this agency was finally driven to assume its proper duties in the process.

Despite all these common features of the projects — the lack of supervision over the projects, discrimination in the assignment of apartments, the theft and corruption that went on, the undervaluing of properties, the faulty designs, the construction shortcuts, the padding of accounts, and the complete disregard of signed agreements — only one case, that of Sabana Perdida, was ever published in the press, and the story was subsequently ignored.

Types of eviction

The evictions could be classified as follows:

• Evictions to make way for road-building projects in the central parts of the city, with housing complexes (“screens”) built along them in front of middle-class and poor residential areas (Villa Juana-Villa Consuelo, San Carlos-Villa Francisca, Guachupita);

• Evictions for extensions of the outer ring road around the city (Sabana Perdida);

• Evictions for the sake of upgrading the downtown area and redefining land uses for business, tourist, and recreational purposes (Colonial Zone, Port of Santo Domingo, La Ciénaga);

• Evictions to allow construction of monuments and ornamental projects (Maquiteria, Columbus Lighthouse); and

• Evictions for environmental-improvement projects (sewage-treatment plants) in neighbourhoods near the Ozama and Isabela rivers (La Zurza, La Ciénaga).

The state carried out evictions of all these types — by compulsion in most instances — in working-class and poor settlements all over the city. The evictions affected owners (of both land and house, of the house only, or of improvements to state property), as well as tenants.

Various types of compensation were offered:

• Payment to owners on the basis of an evaluation of the housing demolished;

• A credit for the cost of the demolished building as a down payment for a house or apartment in one of the government housing projects being built either within the same place or elsewhere; and

• The offer of a building lot, a sum of money, and recycled materials for evicted tenants to build their own dwelling (this was a recently won concession).

Official government statements, including those of the president himself and those of officials and experts involved in urban-planning policy and operations, set out various arguments in favour of urban renewal over the years. Two types of argument predominated: there were those based on the need to stimulate the economy through construction activity and the related objective of creating employment, and there were others based on the need to overcome urban-congestion problems by laying out new communication routes, the need for housing programs to reduce instances of marginalization, and the objectives of slum clearance, beautifying the city, and creating poles of development. The first point to stress, of course, is that none of these undertakings had anything to do with an integrated plan for the city but were simply developed in response to the political needs of the moment. The ideas for some of these projects (particularly in connection with the roadway network) had been around for 40 years. The second point to be made is that the projects had no single, clearly defined motivation. A whole range of intentions came into play, depending on the diverse natures of the projects. For example, in Guachupita, the underlying purpose seemed to be a military one, with the idea of disrupting centres of popular mobilization. In Maquiteria, the idea was to build a monument (the Columbus Lighthouse) and to beautify its surroundings. In Sabana Perdida, the intent had more to do with road-building (the outer ring road) and accommodating the future growth of the city. In Los Alcar-rizos, the purpose was to relocate the work force for industries in the free zone.

In sum, urban renewal in these years seemed to have a multiplicity of motives, in which the following dimensions converged:

The macroeconomic dimension — Construction policy was intended to promote economic recovery (but a disorderly one, as it turned out) to help in the short run to raise employment levels, encourage investment, and increase business turnover. This policy was consistent with the Keynesian approach that the government had followed.

The urban-planning dimension — The basic objectives of urban-planning policy were to relocate working-class and poor neighbourhoods, more sharply segregate social spaces, upgrade and recover land, change land use, improve traffic flows, and satisfy the dominant monu-mentalist vision of urban amenities.

The social-policy dimension — The state was trying to assert the legitimacy of its power over the middle and working classes by disrupting centres of political opposition within the city and thus perpetuating its rule.

Social actors and their strategies

In this section, we try to analyze the strategies that the key actors on the people’s side adopted to deal with the eviction programs. These actors included the inhabitants themselves, the barrio organizations, the Church, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).

The inhabitants

One of the outstanding features of these events was that despite their disruptive impact on life in the barrios, the evictions also stimulated neighbourhood solidarity and creativity in the face of an external threat. Our case studies showed how people were led to build consensus within their communities, despite the great diversity of their social makeup, which made it possible to find common objectives around which people could unite to take joint action.

We found that the staying power of any organization formed to confront a given eviction seemed to depend on whether the barrio had some history of organizational experience, as well as on the scope of people’s demands: preserving and defending their territory, fighting eviction in principle, objecting to some particular form of eviction, securing a house or apartment, seeking some other form of compensation, etc. The extent and manner of people’s reactions seemed to be influenced by their experience with past community campaigns, any previous history of successes they might have had in pressing demands, and what they might have learned about organizational methods and participatory democracy through other involvements, such as the grass-roots church communities launched in the 1970s in some of the city’s barrios. The experience of Guachupita in this regard was significantly different from those of Maquiteria and Sabana Perdida.

The following were some of the responses in the communities we studied:

• The Church launched campaigns against the threat of eviction and in this way served as a symbol of resistance and community unity, as well as providing a useful channel for information;

• The neighbours of a family faced with eviction would band together for mutual protection and in a show of solidarity with the family under threat;

• People maintained vigils, with singing and prayers, awaiting an eviction announced for the next day (they would exchange food, as an expression of solidarity with their neighbours next door or elsewhere in the barrio);

• They made up slogans and composed poems and songs about the eviction;

• They used the streets as places where they could assemble and take part freely in mass demonstrations;

• They would insinuate themselves, one by one, into state offices, under some ruse or another, until there were enough of them to demand negotiations;

• Tenants occupied churches to press their demands (in Guachupita);

• They marched in pickets in front of the DGBN Office, which was in charge of the evictions, and in front of the embassies of countries whose institutions were involved in the state’s plans (the Indicative Plan);

• They held mass marches on the presidential palace;

• They held large gatherings of evicted persons in various parts of the city;

• They held community religious services (stations of the cross) and made bonfires in protest;

• They lit candles in the threatened barrios, as a symbolic form of protest; and

• They made use of the community media to hold press conferences, issue statements, give interviews to reporters, etc.

The people in fact showed great resourcefulness — the types and locations of their actions were constantly changing.

Two converging trends could be observed in the barrios over the years, trends that may seem contradictory but that reflected the complexity of the situation. On the one hand, the crisis that barrio residents were going through had the kind of atomizing and disintegrating effect on them that could generally be seen in Dominican society. This induced a sauve-qui-peut attitude, with people tending to act on their own to save themselves and their property, which represented a real obstacle to attempts at collective action. But, on the other hand, the lack of any effective channels of communication with the state, either at the central or local levels, the decline or withdrawal of basic services, the failure of traditional political authorities to represent and articulate people’s interests, the constantly frustrated expectations of people who had taken to heart the government’s ideology of change, and the glaring fact that people had to do something to protect their quality of life all led to the emergence of new organizational forms for coping with the immediate, everyday needs of inhabitants.

These organizational nuclei appeared at the barrio level. They were still waiting for full social and institutional recognition but were already trying to act as intermediaries, not only to press their claims and demands before the state but also to engage in self-help activities. This may have been the greatest strength of the barrios — and yet, it was exactly the area that was most vulnerable to the impact of the eviction programs, as these had the effect not only of disrupting a way of life but also of crushing this nascent organizing force.

In all this, the women played the key role in taking decisions and actions to solve local problems. This was due to the daily contact they had with the reality of their neighbourhoods, their fundamental part in developing survival strategies (often as the only adult in the home), their significance in the integration and management of the family unit, and their experience in handling the effects of a crisis. For these women and for the working class in general, housing had a very special significance. In the logic of the barrios, the first thing had to be to set up and equip a home and then through various means procure services. A home was the minimum space in which a person could survive and have a family life. It had therefore to be defended at all costs. The women, as visible heads of the households, were crucial players in direct confrontations with the construction engineers, the demolition brigades, the intimidating and aggressive thug squads, as well as in actions to denounce, protest, and resist eviction.

Another aspect to be noted in the behaviour of the inhabitants was the religious point of departure for their political response. In many cases, this grew from people’s religious experience, in which they had discovered the power of organization and been able to see horizontal relationships and compromise at work in a social context. Thus, political action did not always derive from politics itself but sometimes from experience in some other dimension (Villamán 1992).

Barrio organizations

Before we turn to the role played by neighbourhood organizations, we need to distinguish among three different groups that have been involved in the evictions and have brought with them different ideas and strategies:

Political organizations — Political parties were most notable for their absence. Their goals had not included the inhabitants of the barrios. Their only interest in getting involved in resistance movements and negotiations was to look for ways to manipulate, control, and take advantage of the process, and they were completely unaware of its diverse and multifaceted nature. This led the church communities, the priests, the neighbourhood organizations, and the residents themselves to reject any involvement by political parties, as these were seen as having interests and motives opposed to those of the communities.

This was just one more example of the limitations of political parties as a way to involve the popular majority in democracy. Their vertical structure, the gulf between the leaders and the led, and their addiction to political patronage all led them to view popular struggles as a chance to manipulate, with the most important consideration seeming to be who would control the various party factions, rather than how they could help people achieve their goals and demands.

Opportunistic groups — These were formed by inhabitants who had been caught up in the culture of patronage. They claimed to have the kind of influence needed to get a government job or sinecure, and they were in turn manipulated and used by the authorities and the project engineers as shock troops in the barrio. They occasionally presented themselves to the media as representatives of community feeling, with the result that they created a distorted view among the general public of what the inhabitants were demanding. They were in fact one of the main stumbling blocks to mounting effective opposition to the evictions. But attacks by priests and neighbourhood organizations to some extent weakened their credibility. One of their favourite tricks was to collect money from evictees to bargain agreements with the state, but these agreements generally failed to materialize.

The Christian-community groups and residents’ organizations — The inhabitants looked on these groups as a real force for progress in pressing their demands and representing their interests. These groups operated through democratic participatory channels, and their programs promoted human rights and solidarity.

Only two residents’ organizations were present and active throughout the eviction process. These were the COPADEBA and Consejo de Unidad Popular (CUP, popular unity council). Both aimed at redressing grievances and encouraging local autonomy.

COPADEBA had its roots in the barrios of the city’s northern zone in 1979 and made a central point of defending the territorial integrity of the neighbourhoods. Although it certainly had a leading role in the protest campaigns against evictions, its broader goals tended toward promoting ideas of autonomy and self-help among barrio dwellers through building a set of economic, social, and political networks with a clearly defined territorial base. This approach implied the democratization of Dominican society through the decentralization of power and increased community participation in municipal affairs.

In trying to put these ideas into effect, COPADEBA developed a territorial organizational strategy, with committees at the block, zone, barrio, and interbarrio levels in different parts of the city (the northern barrios, Sabana Perdida, Los Al-carrizos), based on the following activities:

• Territorial defence;

• Social and cultural work;

• Economic self-help projects (savings, people’s shops, eliminating intermediaries, and ideas and analyses about the cost of living); and

• Programs of community improvement that would attract state assistance.

COPADEBA’s strategy was thus based on building power from the bottom up, starting with the everyday concerns of the inhabitants.

The group developed a training program at various levels:

• New recruits were taught about its history, its by-laws, its rules, and standards and given a straightforward appreciation of its political tasks;

• Sociopolitical training was offered, through education in the country’s history and discussions about democracy and power relationships;

• More pointed discussion was conducted of specific problems facing the organization; and

• Broadly based community training was given.

With respect to the organization’s policy on evictions, it undertook the following actions:

• Protests were conducted, nationally and internationally, with a view to creating a current of public opinion critical of the government’s policy, its failure to respond to people’s interests, and its role in aggravating the housing problem (by destroying three houses for every new one it built, exacerbating marginalization by shunting people to even worse conditions on the outskirts, ignoring people’s views, poor treatment of tenants, etc.).

As a result of COPADEBA’s work, the United Nations Human Rights Commission, in a decision that represented a historic breakthrough for that body, issued an international condemnation of the Dominican government in December 1990, pointing to its violations of international law on housing rights through its eviction program. This condemnation was reiterated at the end of 1991, when the government decreed the evacuation of families from the barrios of La Ciénaga, Los Guandules, and La Zurza, along the western bank of the Ozama river.

• Resistance was built through a process of coordinating popular movements and barrio organizations to confront the eviction policy. An example was the demonstration of 1 May 1990, mentioned above.

• Proposals were made for involving people in urban-improvement planning, as an alternative to evictions.

In 1987, the organization issued a protest against the previously unknown Indicative Plan, thereby launching a public debate about the city’s renewal of the plan, and the group presented the People’s Proposal concerning evictions. Later, in 1989, COPADEBA set up a team of experts and created the Alternative City.

The organization had to face several obstacles in its campaign against evictions. First, despite the links it had built up with other groups concerned with evictions (neighbourhood councils, committees of evictees, church groups, activist priests, etc.) and with the people’s movement in general, coordination was often very ad hoc, without any overall strategy for confronting the larger problem. The eviction programs were themselves haphazard, disorganized, and ad hoc. The government never had a master plan — its schematic presentations varied from one barrio to the next, depending partly on the personality and style of the project engineer. Consequently, the evictions had different impacts in each neighbourhood, which contributed to lack of an overall plan of response to the government’s policy.

Second, some of the traditional popular groups and the political parties as well (of both left and right) were completely disconnected from the process and failed in their duty to the people. Although some of the opposition parties were approached to help out with the problem, they never made any commitments. The labour unions also took the attitude that these problems were for the barrios, not for the workers, to solve.

This lack of support, coupled with the weakness of the people’s movement itself, which was unable to come up with the type of organized response that the situation demanded, meant that certain sectors of the Church, above all the parish priests, were left to fill the leadership vacuum and try to mediate in the process. We were told that a priest played a key role in defending every single part of the city under eviction notice.

Third, after it became clear that the process was irreversible, people’s demands began to change, as evident from their slogans:

• “Respect for the dignity of the family, no more evictions”;

• “Proper housing”;

“Barrio clean-up yes, evictions no”;

• “Homes for tenants”;

• “Housing for all”;

• “A house for a house”;

• “Fair price”; etc.

This meant that the organization had to adjust its demands to the thinking of the people. On the one hand, it had to fight against the form and content of the eviction policy, with a conviction that that policy was wrong for the city and for the lives of the inhabitants. But, on the other hand, it had to respect the expectations, motives, and interests of the inhabitants as the process developed.

Fourth, the diverse nature and levels of the organizations made it relatively easy for the authorities to manipulate things from outside. Some self-styled community leaders behaved in ways that weakened people’s confidence in the organizations.

For its part, CUP, which had sprung up during the time of the People’s Resistance Committees (Comités de Lucha Popular), in 1982 and 1983, developed a set of strategies against the eviction policy, which was highlighted by the following features:

• It put up resistance to evictions by creating a joint committee in the Los Mameyes sector, based on a progressive, global view of the process throughout the city.

• It helped to organize the struggle to win better treatment for evictees (valuation criteria for demolished houses, negotiation of agreements with the state, the manner of eviction, etc.).

• It was a member of the Urban Forum (Foro Urbano), a discussion group for analyzing urban problems and the eviction policy and became a member of the Conference of People’s Organizations, in 1988, a coalition for articulating proposals to the state and drawing up negotiating strategies. These proposals were essentially intended to ensure that communities would have a part in the process and to secure a state commitment to work to improve conditions in some of the barrios through less costly measures.

• It held “think-ins,” like the 500 Years Eviction Forum (Foro 500 Años de Desalojo), where evicted families gave testimony of their plight.

• It searched for international solidarity, using the Dominican community in North America as its channel.

Getting involved in this way in the struggle against evictions allowed CUP to broaden its vision and redefine its activities. Through its work with other organizations (cultural clubs, women’s groups, neighbourhood councils, youth groups), it came to the conclusion that the kind of coordination attempted to date among the various organizations was insufficient to deal with the eviction process. It therefore set up an evictees unit, with victims of the evictions, an autonomous body with its own rules and a mandate to work across a broader spectrum.

The new challenges posed by the evictions led CUP to change its operating style. It began to work with children (almost 1 000 children were organized); it set up a barrio health network (with social workers and health education activities); and it experimented with shopping co-operatives (to protect family purchasing power in the face of inflation), a school for artistic creativity, etc. Thus, CUP’s approach began to shift from a focus on bureaucratic organization to a new vision of work, which took the daily life of the barrio as its point of departure. This allowed its leaders to become involved in problem areas that the group had previously left aside, including the following: housing; services; the cultural aspect; the role of the family and the individual; the independent, informal economy; and gender issues. From being a simple coordinating mechanism, CUP thus became a true organization of barrio dwellers. In this way, many of its initiatives originated in the barrio itself, rather than from within the organization as such.

It had, however, a number of difficulties to deal with:

• The old habits of paternalism and dependency, still deeply rooted in the collective consciousness, stood in conflict with the new strategy whereby residents were to take decisions and action into their own hands. People generally tended to rely on their leaders to make decisions, a reflection of the prevailing messianic concept that permeated the organizations. This often led to disappointment but encouraged people to seek out people with real power to help them.

• Despite the occasional expression of unity, such as the mass demonstration of October 1990, involving more than 1000 families at the Columbus Lighthouse, the state refused to recognize or negotiate with the organization (“the State has never paid any attention to us”). Instead, it continued to deal simultaneously with separate groups, in ways that tended to undermine the movement’s effectiveness. Favours handed out by the state in this way were a constant source of frustration to collective action.

• Once people had obtained new housing, they tended to give up the struggle and to withdraw from the organization. This had the effect of disrupting the existing groups — people stopped coming to meetings, and their ideals of unity and continuity faded away.

We can say, generally, that the main roadblocks to expanding the scope and work of these barrio dwellers’ organizations lay in the state’s refusal to recognize their movement and in the various organizational problems they encountered in trying to go beyond mere ad hoc activities. The movement betrayed weaknesses in its negotiating abilities and tended to divorce social and political issues in ways that made it difficult to find counterpart interlocutors on the government side. At the same time, the hands-off attitude of political organizations with respect to the eviction problem meant that politics as such was irrelevant to the daily conduct of the struggle.

The Church

The Church emerged as a key actor in mediating social and political issues in the Dominican Republic. The Church became involved in worker-boss conflicts, in interparty understandings, in movements for political reform, in organizing work stoppages, etc. More than any other player, the Church became an independent source of power in the political arena.

The eviction issue provided an opportunity for the Church to demonstrate its influence, situated as it was in the middle between two opposing sides of unequal strength. Yet, by casting its support on one side, the Church became personalized, and the way it used its power depended on how it saw its commitment to the inhabitants. Thus, although church leaders intervened with the state more than once to demand special treatment or compensation for people affected by the evictions, to propose policies with regard to human settlements through communiques of the Dominican Conference of Bishops, or to intercede with the state when there was a crisis at the barricades, the Church as a whole never broke its close ties with the state to take a clear stand on the eviction issue.

The Church’s position was further compromised by its acceptance of donations for some of the public works that the state built during this period, and also by its publicly identification with monument-building projects that implied the eviction of thousands of families (the Columbus Lighthouse, for example). Such a stance meant that the Church as an institution was constrained in its ability to speak out freely, and this damaged its credibility with the people. It was thus left up to the local parish to fulfil the Church’s role as mediator, and so it was that the parish priest became the leading player. The inspiration for this role came mainly from the experience of the movement of grass-roots church communities that grew up among the urban poor in the 1970s (Madruga 1987), based on principles that had been enunciated by the bishops’ conference of Medellin in 1971.

The local priest thus found himself in a situation in which he was expected to fill a quite unconventional role. He was to go suddenly from managing a parish and promoting the values of community cohesion to organizing the struggle for housing and fair treatment of the people evicted. The attention accorded to the priest in all this was due, primarily, to the image of power that he presented: “People see us [the Church] as a second government,” said one priest.2

An important element in this activity was the fact that despite whatever internal tensions might exist in the Church concerning its views on urban renewal

2 The quotes and information in what follows derive from discussion notes, fellowship sessions, pastoral visits, youth groups, chats, courses, exchanges with other neighbourhoods, etc.

and evictions, there never was any open sign of conflict, and the senior church authorities never tried to restrain the priests who were working so closely with the victims. This created the presumption that the local priest enjoyed the moral support of the hierarchy and that he thus spoke with the power of the Church in his dealings with both the state and society. And yet, many of the parish priests in the barrios must surely have felt rather lonely. They attempted to overcome this isolation by forming a common front of priests working with eviction victims all over the city.

Recognizing the power that the priest represented, the state tended in most cases to deal with him as its only interlocutor, as the only one who could dampen the flames of social conflict. But at the same time, the priests were expected to organize that resistance, and this sometimes led to conflict in their relations with the state. Indeed, some priests were subjected to intimidation and threatened with deportation or were severely criticized through the press.

The priests represented a new kind of rationality in dealing with the eviction problem:

I am discouraged by the lack of access to state structures that are totally corrupt ... they only move when it is in their interest to do so. ... I am appalled at the contractors’ lack of professionalism ... they have neither creativity nor common sense ... they have no professional ethics ... they have no respect for the people and no concept of the nation.

These statements raise profound questions about the validity of state power. Despite the conflict that such questioning presupposed, the institutional position of the priest was key to his ability to influence the process: “We are quite sure nevertheless that the people look to us, and that if it were not for us, the community would have achieved very little.” This is perhaps an exaggeration that tends to downplay the long history of organized effort and struggle and the role of NGOs and other groups, but there is no doubt that in most cases the priest played a fundamental role.

A second factor that placed the priest in the position of mediator between the state and the inhabitants was the respect that people had for him: “priests are the only ones we can trust.” The priests were obviously thinking of this respect when they stated, “people welcome the priest, because they know he will not deceive them, he will not let them down” or, “if the priest is not there, many people will not come to a meeting. If they see the priest, they will gather around.”

A third factor strengthening the priest’s position as a key player in the eviction issue was his constant presence among the people: “the priest is always there with us” or “the priest has always taken our side.” We can add to these factors the public image that the press created of the priest, the length of time he may have worked in the same area (sometimes as long as 10–20 years), and the fact that he was recognized by the neighbourhood organizations.

From a social viewpoint and in the opinion of the priests themselves, all this posed a double risk:

• It may have served to reaffirm the powers of the establishment and to devalue the powers of the people and their community organizations. Both the attitude of the people and that of the government tended to confirm this and to discourage the rise of popular leaders in their own right. This recognition led some priests to limit their role to a supportive one.

• From the Church’s viewpoint, there was a risk that the priests’ activism would diminish respect for religion, if people came to see their work merely as opportunistic religious proselytizing.

There was clearly some tension in the role of the priest, who found himself at once the focus of the diverse expectations of the people, their organizations, and the state and, through his action, suddenly a popular figure.

As we have seen, the Church was trying to balance many claims and interests, and the priesthood took varying views and approaches. The way a priest approached the issue was probably influenced by the degree of his experience with the eviction controversy. Some priests had already become involved in this process during the Twelve Years and were thus fully aware of the impact it had been having on the people displaced. Their professional training (as anthropologists, sociologists, historians) may have had some influence, too, on the way they perceived the problem. Those priests who only got into the fray later on in the process and in places where there was no existing social organization limited their activities to the fight for housing (as in Maquiteria). They rejected any idea that their action had a political element: “I have told the community that I am not a politician, and they must be very clear about that.” Yet, both groups of priests — the old and the new activists — had the same ultimate goal: to fight for human rights.

Strengthening people’s self-image and their abilities to organize and to take an active part in fighting for their rights were thus basic objectives of their actions: “when we campaign for human rights, we are not just putting the Church up as a counterbalance to the power of the State, we are using the process to involve people in educating and organizing themselves for the future.” We were obviously dealing here with a view of the city and of the community that was quite different from that held by the state and that was based on the concept of an outward-looking Church that embraced the contradictions of power relationships.

This view was based on a current in Church thinking that saw the Church as a community, replete with the complexities of life, including its political dimension. Thus, the initial goals of the campaign against evictions included both a denunciation of the state’s urban meddling (its Indicative Plan, for example) and the strengthening of the people’s ability to mount longer term resistance, with the idea that popular organizations with the priests playing an integral role would become more powerful through such resistance. This current gave rise to new forms of democratic organizational structures that gradually achieved the capacity for local action, which included not only making protests and proposals, but also developing negotiating strategies. Indeed, many of the members and leaders of the most active organizations in the barrios got their first experience within the grass-roots church communities and in service institutions linked to the Church.

This was the basis for negotiating agreements with the state: through (1) confrontation, which was understood as a means of marking out one’s space, “drawing a line,” and fortifying oneself for negotiation; and (2) the negotiations, which were intended to accomplish one’s objectives. Without the latter, the confrontation would lose its meaning. The state could see that it would have to negotiate: because it had used excessive force at the outset of the eviction process, it could lose its legitimacy if it did not negotiate, and because it needed to win political capital, it had to show a degree of openness.

The priests would have to ensure that their involvement did not compromise their image. They made conscientious preparations for the negotiations through previous discussion of the main position points in their parish councils and the evictee committees, where all these problems were subjected to open debate and decisions were taken by vote. Before any negotiating session, they would meet with their parishioners, explain any doubts, draw up lists of petitions, etc. These petitions were negotiated with state officials, usually in the presence of representatives of the victims, who then reported back to the residents about what had been negotiated, what concessions had been won, and what problem areas remained. In this sense, negotiations could be looked at as a kind of apprenticeship exercise in civic participation.

It must be stressed that in contrast to the earlier evictions, which were sprung on people without notice, the later ones were conducted with public involvement and discussion. Information was provided and options were considered. The state itself admitted that the results were much better. Instead of the forced evictions of 1987 and 1988, with their attendant disinformation and violence, the people to be displaced and the organizations representing them had a degree of influence in guiding and managing the process.

It is important also to note the preparatory and training strategy used by the priests within the communities. We found significant differences in the style and scope of the training programs. These differences depended on the ideas and outlook of the priests, the type of negotiations — individual or collective — the number and status of the residents involved, the degree of organization in the community, etc. Thus, we found training programs that ranged from a basic mass-education approach with a long-term, comprehensive, and critical focus to ones strictly limited to the promotion of human and religious values.

In the Guachupita case, a strikingly broad training program was undertaken among different parish groups. They worked constantly and on their own to promote discussion of such themes as “using words to shed light on our lives” and the move from “a Church that is silent to one that raises its voice.” Other mechanisms included the community news sheet Encuentro (“Encounter”), acts of solidarity with other barrios, encouraging people to listen to the news, and research on the history of the barrio and its Christian community (collective memory), all of this undertaken on a rotating basis by different groups, contributing to the multiplier effect. This helped to explain the sustained nature of the struggle mounted against the evictions and the success that people had in pressing their demands. Although the people in Sabana Perdida suffered from the lack of any training program to provide a comprehensive overview of their objectives, the parish used artistic and recreational activities to train people to put up resistance. In Maquiteria, activities were conducted in three fields: a group of women worked in the areas of health and handicrafts; a groceries dispensary was set up to respond to the problem of food self-sufficiency; and grass-roots church communities held discussions and promoted co-operative work. In all three cases, the weekly Sunday Mass was turned into an opportunity to exchange information about the evictions. This meant that Christian groups were better informed than the barrio as a whole and were looked to by the rest of the people as reliable advisors.

Intellectuals and NGOs

Intellectuals and NGOs made their presence felt in the eviction processes in two different periods: during the first years of resistance and struggle; and later, when alternative proposals about urban housing were being developed.

In the first instance, some intellectuals displayed their commitment to the residents’ cause in an important way, and often under threat from officialdom, by issuing critiques of the state’s urban-development program, undertaking research and training, and taking part in the resistance mounted by the neighbourhood organizations and the priests. Some subsequently became members of the technical advisory teams that helped develop proposals against the evictions. Their participation in debates, seminars, through the media and at international events, helped to give depth and scope to the proposals put forward by the residents themselves.

At this stage, CEDAIL, an institution sponsored by the Dominican Conference of Bishops, began to play an important role. With a view to providing training, research, and support for people on their rights and legal prerogatives as citizens, it helped communities to formulate their demands and proposals. Its activities through courses, discussion groups, educational law publications, legal advisory services, systematic information gathering, and international protests made it one of the key actors. In 1989, together with COPADEBA, it formed the Alternative City, as a technical advisory centre for developing neighbourhood improvement proposals, and from then on it was a member of the governing council of that body.

Other institutions, like the Centro Poveda (for training), and the People’s Publishing House (Ediciones Populares) made significant contributions to public understanding of the issues. Universities also served as forums for discussion, protest, and debate about the government’s plans. The communications media thus provided a useful link for dissemination and analysis of public opinion about the issues, although some media representatives were later compromised to some extent by their receipt of state jobs and contributions.

In the Alternative City, the neighbourhood organizers had available for the first time a real technical-support centre to help them formulate and develop proposals for comprehensive improvement in housing and the quality of life and to strengthen their sense of cultural identity and creativity. Using an approach that saw improvement in mediating the process of social change (Morel 1991), the Alternative City worked closely with residents of the barrios. It sought alternative solutions to barrio problems (the urban-improvement project for La Ciénaga and Los Guandules, later interrupted by the evictions decreed in September 1991; the build-your-own housing project in Pantojas; small and medium-scale assistance projects in various barrios). However, it also took part in negotiations with the state over the latest round of evictions. Its strategy was to promote the coordinated, decentralized, and participatory management of urban problems and to encourage state participation in the proposed solutions.

Fallout from the evictions: building and rebuilding identities

In this section, we examine the extent to which people’s self-identity was affected by the evictions and the potential for empowerment this represented for people in terms of democratic participation.

By identity, we mean those features of any group or person by which they recognize themselves. This is, of course, a complex matter. According to Biagini (1989), it involves community or individual self-affirmation implanted from various cognitive experiences. This identity makes us look beyond the diverse perspectives of our daily lives. It comes to us in diffused ways and thus brings us successive moments of contentment and disappointment in the face of an event like the evictions, depending on factors that may concomitantly converge. These include historical and cultural factors, which indeed make the process complex. In methodological terms, we are always rebuilding our identity from a constellation of our modes of doing, thinking, and feeling. Social status, work, religion, and family make-up are thus all part of this identity, together with our physical space and territory.

Identity and poverty among the eviction victims

One of the features we found among the displaced residents was the ability to recognize their social status in relation to political and ethical factors. The evictees knew that they were poor and socially excluded. They attributed this condition essentially to political causes. Life was lived in the midst of suffering and disappointment, which are common characteristics among the poor majority of our times:

• “We poor people are treated badly.”

• “They don’t listen to us.”

• “The National Properties came along, made a list of our houses, and said nothing to us.”

• “If they would only listen to us poor people, things would be different.”

In this way, the evictees suffered their problems with annoyance, indifference, or disgust. As poor people, they knew that they were living in social relationships of inequality that tended to blot out parts of their identity. For example, they saw that they were denied the right to communicate their preferences about types of housing and forms of settlement. Life was seen as tragedy, and political power was seen as an alien force acting on them at the margin of their subjugated condition and rejecting any attempt to reach consensus.

The residents had developed a social awareness, or folk memory, in which their current state of poverty was inextricably linked to a series of landmark political moves, stretching from the Trujillo dictatorship to the era of the present government. Many of the evictees were migrants who came originally from the countryside. They vividly recalled the forced seizures of their lands by Trujillo’s relatives and henchmen, which the state started back in 1920, and which became worse from the 1930s on (Báez 1978; Cassa 1985).

The combined effects of those land seizures and the ongoing mechanization of agriculture led to a land-distribution regime polarized between large-scale land-holdings (latifundio) and small holdings (minifundio); thousands of families were reduced to supporting themselves from their own tiny plots or as day-labourers — frequently, indeed, they combined the conditions of small farmers with those of day-labourers or semiproletarians:

• “Our economic situation used to be normal. We were able to prosper from farming and raising livestock. But then, along came one of Trujillo’s feudal bosses and forced us to sell all our lands, including my father’s land.”

• “They forced my father to sign an agreement of sale, and since he couldn’t write, he signed an X. That was in 1955. After that, he moved here (to the capital) and simply pined away. We knew that he was dying of grief, because they had taken away his land — he had never been sick a day in his life.”

• “My mother had to give up her own land to Trujillo in 1948. After that, she worked as a hired hand on someone else’s land. She also made charcoal, and used to ride into town on an old nag, to sell it.”

The barrio dwellers also felt that government policies, especially those having to do with urban redevelopment, were factors contributing to their poverty. They pointed to irrational government priorities in undertaking projects that had little social use, the destruction of housing that people had built for themselves, their exclusion from new housing developments, the ejection of families from buildings that the state had assigned to them after previous evictions, and the shunting of residents to outlying districts where they had trouble finding work:

• “I think everyone realizes that the government’s development policy has been a complete mistake .... They have invested almost 900 million pesos [DOP] in building projects, when agriculture is on its knees, and there is so much need for investment in industry and in education — in other words, in the sectors that are vital to our national life.”

• “How can a government come to power and look at the mess we are in, without setting priorities for major areas like health, the economy, education? The entire approach of the government has been wrong.”

Solidarity with the residents

Family solidarity

We can appreciate the great solidarity that permeates people’s approach to life when we look at the gestures of cooperation and involvement people showed the evicted residents. Over time, a whole series of common endeavours were undertaken that had a special impact on the evictees’ lives. The two most frequent expressions of solidarity were through the family and through neighbours. These in turn would lead to a sense of solidarity throughout the barrio. The residents were fully aware that through various actions in their lives they had built up interpersonal relationships between family members and neighbours that served as focal points for joint action and unity, directed mainly at their very survival, although other forms of solidarity helped to meet different needs.

Our examination of people’s case histories allowed us to determine that most of the evicted families were of rural origin, and this went a long way to explaining why mutual assistance was so important to them. We found these same values, albeit with variations, in the urban setting. A constant focus of the respondents’ remarks was solidarity for survival:

• “All the money we made we gave to my mother. After I got married, I rented a little house, but right away they asked me for it, and so I moved back into my mother’s house. Later, my brother-in-law lent us a vacant house that he had.”

• “When I got married, I lived at first in my mother’s house. Then I went out on my own, and built a little place on my mother’s land. Later, when I moved to the city, my brother found me a lot here in Guachupita. There I built a house out of wood and palm leaves.”

This propensity for solidarity and mutual help cannot be looked at in isolation from the class situation of these residents. The resources they had to help each other and the character of their relationships were typical of people living in poverty.

The role of the mother stands front and centre in such relationships. She represented the nucleus around which the extended family was formed. This form of family solidarity played a key role in the demographic make-up of the city and in the employment situation in certain areas — migrants followed their families, and once they were settled in the city, they in turn started to prepare things so that they could receive other family members in town. Solidarity could also be seen in many cases through people’s keeping typically rural traditions and customs. For example, grandparents might adopt the first-born grandchild and take responsibility for raising the child; people would take care of the children of a brother or sister who had emigrated abroad; people would look after their aged parents, either by having their parents move in with them for the rest of their lives or by sending their children to look after the grandparents in their own homes.

Neighbourly solidarity

Neighbourhood unity was one of the outstanding values we saw demonstrated by residents during our study. This phenomenon was very widespread, both in the countryside and in the barrios in town (Garcia and Mejia 1987). Neighbourhood unity, like family unity, was a value that often boiled down to a strategy for survival, because changes in physical and social surroundings could have a significant influence on people’s ways of life.

The physical restructuring of a barrio affected levels of integration and forms of organization:

My work in the community is now becoming very difficult .... I have been trying to organize group meetings within our parish. When we all lived in our own little homes, everyone would tell his neighbour next door about a meeting, and then the neighbours would come to it, whether [or not] they thought it would do some good, or because they were just being considerate. But now, neighbours don’t really know each other anymore, and so only three or four people will show up at a meeting.

The way evicted families restructured their neighbourhood life in their new surroundings meant to some extent falling back on their private resources, and community ties became less important:

In the old days, people who had been here a long time would treat each other as equals, and they knew what bothered somebody, and what didn’t. But now, the neighbours just say, “This is my house, and I can do what I like.”

Of course, attitudes to new neighbours were not always so rigid. There were various degrees of openness, which we might classify as follows:

• A closed attitude toward former neighbours who were relocated and an openness to new neighbours;

• A closed attitude toward new neighbours, through a desire to keep territorial control or because of political ideology; and

• A closed attitude toward new neighbours because of their cultural practices.

The first category was a sign of the evictees’ breaking with the past, or a redefining of their identity, in which physical and natural surroundings seemed to influence their behaviour. We found this phenomenon among the residents who were relocated to the Los Coquitos area in Los Mameyes, after being evicted from the barrio of Maquiteria a short distance away. When the evictions began, people kept up an attitude of solidarity in their struggle, without making any distinction as to social standing. But when they were relocated, these people felt that they had achieved a different social status, and they looked on their new surroundings as a sign of upward mobility, not only in economic but also in social or cultural terms.

This imagined change led them to take on a different lifestyle, with new social relationships and a new social ethos. Former residents of the barrio who had not been able to find new apartments were stigmatized and became socially undesirable. The new lifestyle extended to language, social organization, sporting and recreational relations, etc. People seemed to feel that they were living a different life:

• “The difference here is that we live much better than we did back there. After all, you know, people who live in those slums do not have much culture.”

• “People there had no manners or morals. Here it is not like that — everything is different.”

• “Here, at least people realize that they are living in an apartment, and that we have to change our living habits and express ourselves with a new vocabulary. In that sense, we are a thousand times better off.”

• “Life here is really different. The children are even a different colour here.”

And yet, these residents still defended the right of their former neighbours to find an apartment, even if it wouldn’t be as good as the ones they themselves had, and they admitted that those people had been mistreated and restricted in their mobility.

This group was living the “contentment” of eviction. When we asked them how they would compare the first and the last stages of the eviction process, they described the first stage, with what we would have to call expressions of pain, for example, “Let’s compare it to being sick.” But in talking about the final stage, their expressions betrayed feelings of pleasure, for example, “We compare it with the joy of having finally made something of our lives.” This change, however, did not mean that the group had broken with the kind of neighbourly solidarity that was such a feature of the country’s urban barrios. Although their lives had become more private, it had not become individualized. As time went by, residents began to interact in multifamily blocs, which made it more difficult to have the kind of daily, face-to-face encounter that was so easy when they all lived at the same level. That was one of the defining concepts of neighbourliness in the barrios.

Nevertheless, the privatization of relationships made it more difficult to feel a part of a neighbourhood. Indeed, people no longer carried on the struggle for justice from an overall social perspective but in terms of the interests of one’s own particular group. And yet, in the end, what this amounted to was just a different form of neighbourhood behaviour, and the kind of solidarity that prevailed depended on common needs, often determined by the physical nature of people’s housing and their surroundings.

This new spirit of solidarity within a building showed up in the demands that residents addressed to the city or central governments:

Now that we are living in this building, we are doing very well. We keep our green spaces tidy, we send delegations to the government and city hall to demand street improvements, or better garbage collection. We insist that they build us a supermarket, a post office, a hospital, or a medical dispensary.

These demands had no underlying basis in ideology or politics. They bespoke a kind of solidarity that responded to very localized interests and that was intended to meet needs arising from the relocation process itself. In this sense, the struggle was a spontaneous one, inspired by the experience gained in the old parish committee that used to lead the fight for the right to housing. We were unable to define the scope of this struggle, but we could detect a new element in it: groups were upgrading their physical and territorial space and recognizing the value of neighbourhood cohesion.

These groups could be said to follow a certain sequence: many of them began without any organizational experience; they came together only through the work of the parish committees that for the first time, provided leadership in asserting the rights of the evictees; and in the end, their neighbourhood grouping had no real structure or program, and they undertook ad hoc actions directed mainly to upgrading their own lands and housing.

On the other hand, the residents of Guachupita formed a closed group that excluded new residents. This reflected a sense of duty toward residents, especially the tenants, who were evicted from the barrio and who were not relocated within the area when it was rebuilt. For the people of Guachupita, to exclude their former neighbours from the barrio would have seemed to be a real loss of power, as every one of them was tied to the place with a feeling of territorial belonging. The barrio had a collective memory of its constant struggle to shape its surroundings in opposition to state edicts. The state, after all, built only two streets. The houses, the school, the church, the clubs, and the medial dispensary were built through the independent initiative of these residents. The residents thus came to look on their surroundings as their own property.

To let new residents into the place would have seemed to be an injustice and a usurpation of the right to this heritage. This exclusivist view was conditioned by cultural factors. The Gauchupiteros saw that the new residents felt themselves socially distinct in their actions and gestures toward the older residents, which often betrayed a racist attitude:

• “These people are very stuck-up. Nobody had a car around here. Now these people come with their cars, and they like to drive them around and show off.”

• “They don’t want to have anything to do with us, because we are black. You always hear them talking about ‘these blacks’.”

The attitude of the new neighbours revived the pain people felt over being rejected by persons from outside the barrio. The barrio had been settled by people from all over the country. It had also been one of Trujillo’s favourite places for recruiting — and murdering — thugs. The layout of the area also made it a haven for victims of political persecution, especially during the government of the Twelve Years — the narrow passages and alleyways offered ideal defence for such refugees.

This stigmatization then would seem to have had its origins in those conflicts. The police were largely to blame for this, according to the residents. But there was very clearly a political reason to react against the newcomers, as political patronage and party favouritism meant that the best housing was built and given to supporters of the party in power, right in the midst of an area that had been historically opposed to that party.

Whatever the underlying reasons, this was a problem of the breakdown of social networks and the loss of territorial control:

What we really don’t like about this barrio now is that there are people here who have been brought in from other areas .... Every time a new house is unveiled, we see a lot of new faces that were never part of Guachupita before .... So what really worries us is that every time a project is finished, the contractor lets in 10, 12, or 15 people who are not from here at all.

Similarly, when new residents arrived, this not only broke down the existing social networks, it also brought in new values and habits harmful to people’s mental health: the plague of drug addiction. Residents were then engaged in a battle to keep out drug traffickers among the newcomers: “Some of these people who have been brought in from elsewhere have taken it on themselves to push those little drug cigarettes on the people of the barrio.”

Enough has been said to show that the Gauchupiteros kept up a solidly united mentality among family and neighbours and that their feeling of neighbourhood was closely linked to their social sense. Everyone remembered the names of the people who had already died during the evictions and those who were then dying as a result. They all felt the pain of many of the elderly who were unable to get out of their high-rise buildings and the frustration of being unable to offer them any protection:

The government never gave any thought to older people when it built these high-rises. We have a lot of elderly invalids who have been stuck on the fifth floor, and who can only get out if they can find someone to bring them down. This is one of the things that has caused the death of many people.

Keeping people shut away like this broke down the culture in which people got together and helped each other. The high-rise apartment building had in fact unleashed a wave of disappointment: “We were not against relocation, just against the way we were treated. They did not build the kind of low houses we wanted.”

The sense of unity in the barrio about the value of life was threatened by these changes. Ways of living still retained many of the features and customs that predominated in the barrio before its physical aspect was destroyed. For example, people left the doors of their houses open during the day, in contrast to the inhabitants of Los Coquitos in Los Mameyes, who kept their doors locked at all times. And people still took advantage of the streets as meeting places.

Yet, some people’s ideas and values about their social condition were changing. They felt that their status had been lowered from the point of view of their housing — they found themselves downwardly mobile in a social sense. Nevertheless, for most people the social value of their surroundings had increased, and their housing had improved. In this area, as in Guachupita, people interacted in blocs. Despite the fact that interaction was more extensive and there was still a sense of territorial wholeness, these relocations and shifts meant that people were losing the chance to exchange goods and services among themselves as neighbours and thus losing their survival space as well:

We have lost many of the friends we had before, and even if they live here they don’t visit us anymore, because they live away up there somewhere, and they don’t come downstairs for visits on the first floor. We used to be so close — if we were sick, they would be at our side, they would fill the house with visitors, and now we have to send someone out to look for help and say, “Hey, so-and-so is sick, please come, even though we don’t know you.” If we didn’t have any coffee, we knew that someone would bring some — but who would do that for us now?

The uncertainties and upheavals of eviction and relocation did not, however, interfere with neighbourhood organization. In fact, the process seemed to strengthen such organization. Every block committee had its leadership and members. This represented the most promising seeds for creating a real district movement, not only in the sense of a means of pressing neighbourhood demands, but also in the broader sense of collective unity and outlook.

The third group we defined — the one of people who tended to be closed to new residents, on cultural grounds — could be found in Sabana Perdida. This attitude stemmed from the collision of values and standards: some of the new inhabitants brought with them a culture of noise, alcohol, gambling, and drugs: “It’s so noisy we can’t get any sleep .... The streets are full of drunkards .... There’s a lot of crowding .... Many of these people are complete strangers to us. We don’t have the sense of unity we used to have.” It was very hard for these people to adjust to their new environment. They lived in a kind of transition zone between the rural and urban milieus, where peace and quiet and neighbourliness were the two hallmarks of survival. The values of mutual assistance, cooperation, comradeship, and so on had all been part of their daily lives.

Yet, this group felt the breakdown of family and neighbourhood life less strongly that did those in Guachupita, as they lived in single-storey houses and they nearly all managed to be relocated to the same place. They were thus able to keep a certain degree of closeness among themselves, even if they no longer had any contact with residents of neighbouring barrios near where they used to live.

The value that suffered the most was perhaps the typically rural sense of living space — and, along with that, the value of ample housing. A home and its surroundings used to be a means of survival—people could plant fruit trees, raise chickens, and so on. Also, the house itself offered enough bedrooms for every member of the family (six, on average) and enough space both for doing daily chores and enjoying leisure time.

Three features stood out in the self-identity of these residents:

• A high degree of awareness of the social value of urban space;

• Organizational unity among members of the old barrio; and

• The leading role of women in the battle against evictions.

Just as with the evictions and relocations in the Los Coquitos area of Los Mameyes, these residents had begun to campaign with the central and municipal governments to improve their surroundings. They had formed a very clear idea of the amenities that urban living required. They had risen to the challenge of their ideals by forming neighbourhood councils that were then in the process of being formally recognized by the government. These councils had close ties with the grassroots church communities of the parish of Our Lady of Latin America. The organizational role of women had been significant. Women had led the campaign for adequate housing and services, both during and after the eviction. The same thing happened in the Los Coquitos area of Los Mameyes.

These aspects of self-identity had different results among the new residents of Sabana Perdida and among the evictees in Guachupita and in Los Mameyes in terms of political identity. Here we found a combination of contentment and disappointment about very specific features of the environment. The contentment came from the concept of urbanization that the residents entertained. Few of these people spoke of living in a barrio, and this led many of these people to believe they had bettered their social standing. Others felt that their status had remained about the same, whereas a few believed that they had lost ground socially.

These views were reflected in their political preferences. The government, the president in particular, had emerged from the project with their legitimacy intact, despite significant criticism of the methods of eviction employed by public officials. We posed the question, “Do you think the president of the republic might win the next elections, given all these evictions?,” which was intended to help us discover whether the evictions had had an effect on people’s political identity. The answers tended to be less favourable to the president than those we were given in Los Coquitos, but more favourable than those in Guachupita, where the evictions served to strengthen opposition to the president.

We interpreted these results using the hypothesis that the political views of the residents had changed very little and that they regarded their local struggles as quite distinct from national problems. This could be blamed above all on the failure of social and political organizations to provide political education and make people understand the link between the macro- and the microlevels of social and political events.

Identity and work

Generally speaking, the evictees represented a class of workers who identified themselves with the informal economy. They were typically engaged as small merchants, peddlers, domestic workers (cleaning and laundry), temporary or part-time workers, etc. The generic term for such people was “independent” workers, or as they frequently referred to themselves, chiriperos (moonlighters). The independent workers identified themselves by this concept, in contrast to the “formal” workers, who only worked as wage earners. Historical and structural factors have helped to shape this identity. Our analysis of the work history of the evictees showed that informal work represented, in a sense, the working culture of the neighbourhood and that this had a significant influence on these people’s psychological make-up.

We compared the labour status of the three neighbourhoods studied as follows:

• In the Los Coquitos barrio of Los Mameyes, most people were engaged as dependent employees, as workers in small businesses, as owners of small shops, as beauty-parlour or rooming-house operators, or as lottery-ticket vendors. Some also lived on pensions.

• In the barrio of Guachupita, work patterns were more varied: sales people in places like grocery stores, shops, beauty parlours, and street-vending operations (selling meat or pastries, running fruit stands, selling charcoal). Most were itinerant workers: delivery-cart owners, lottery-ticket or boiled-egg vendors, or taxi drivers. Some were engaged as domestic servants or took in laundry and ironing. Some were salaried employees in the public or private sectors, including those in the construction industry.

• In Sabana Perdida, informal workers were of many varieties: sales people in fixed establishments, itinerant vendors of lottery tickets or cosmetics, working on the street or door-to-door, and even employees of beauty parlours.

This demarcation by type of work could be related to a specific attitude toward salaried employment. For these residents, to work for a public- or private-sector employer meant putting up with a much lower standard of living than that enjoyed by informal workers. A person’s self-identity as an independent worker could be related to the fact that one could earn more that way than as a formal worker and also to their recognition that these workers’ low-level qualifications would prevent them from entering the formal labour market. In any case, the fact that a given group identified itself with informal work was based on structural elements and, to a lesser extent, on personal preferences.

What kind of impact did the evictions have on this identity? We detected two direct factors in these repercussions:

Removal to the outskirts — This factor was felt especially by residents of Guachupita, who were relocated in other zones. They found them selves living in swampy areas like Guaricano, far removed from the la bour market of the central city. The government in this case completely overlooked the importance of streets in the informal economy, as lo cales where itinerant vendors could offer their wares for sale to passersby. These people depended for their livelihood on their work as itinerant vendors, and to remove them to sparsely populated zones or to areas where most people had very little income simply meant con demning them to poverty.

High-rise housing construction — This factor had a major impact both in Los Coquitos and in Guachupita. The multiple high-rise units de stroyed the support structure for small-business establishments and for itinerant vendors. This economic structure was geared to the single-level house, which served as the basis for commercial activities like grocery stores, beauty parlours, barbershops, and butcher shops. It also provided a place to keep the tools of one’s trade, such as a bicycle, a cart, or a motorcycle, which were real necessities for survival. The environment of these large apartment blocks, particularly the very high buildings, was not at all conducive to the kind of close, day-to-day relationships that we found in the horizontal, open layout of the barrio. Few resi dents had the opportunity to live on the ground floor, and if their liveli hood required street-level housing, they had to move away. Former neighbours found themselves split up among different blocks and streets in an entirely different pattern from the one they were used to. Thus, a worker who, for example, made a living selling clothing materials and could vouch for the quality of this merchandise would then lose much of the old, loyal neighbourhood clientele. The same would happen to people who relied on loans for their living. This factor was particularly noticeable in Sabana Perdida. A compounding factor there was the re moval of facilities affected by the clearance, without any substitute to provide regular employment for the inhabitants. In fact, one of the main elements behind the wave of disappointment caused by the evictions was the fact that the state assumed no social commitment to provide employment security in the course of planning and building new settle ments. As a result, the state was responsible for reducing the living standards of a large number of evictees.


General interpretation of the process

The following points of general interpretation can be made about the eviction process in Santo Domingo as it took place during the period under study:

• The evictions carried out by the state over the previous 5 years in Santo Domingo were influenced by many factors, including those related to macroeconomics, politics, city planning, and culture, and this may ex plain why the process was so complex.

• The clearance projects were highly conditioned by the authoritarian style with which they were conducted, the centralization of decisionmaking and action, and the weakness of the country’s social institutions.

• The process of evictions had to be seen in a broader social context characterized by a resurgence of economic acquisitiveness, an increase in poverty among the urban population, the collapse of institutions, shrinking social spending by the state, and a rising level of public protest. In the cases examined, the evictions had two very different kinds of effect. On the one hand, to the extent the process achieved its objectives, it resulted in the disruption or redefinition of the social networks on which the affected residents depended for their protection, their collective and individual identities, and their very survival. On the other hand, they also gave rise to significant degrees of integration within the communities, with an intensity that went far beyond the concerns of the moment and that seemed to be conditioned by the traditions of resistance, the training programs, the organizational experiences, and the steadfastness of the leadership that existed in the communities of the evictees before the evictions.

• To the extent that the victims won compensation (the right to remain in the same place, the state provision of housing, fair procedural treatment, the demands of tenants, etc.), this was more a result of their capacity to offer resistance and opposition, negotiate, and propose alternatives and of the way they organized themselves and sought help than a reflection of any original state planning or intent. In fact, despite its rhetoric to the contrary, the state adopted programs mainly on the basis of simply evicting people from homes that they themselves had built, without making any provision for their relocation.

• Although the evictees and the organizations for their support had occasional victories, these were at least partially vitiated by popular movements’ being so localized, so ephemeral, so lacking in coordination and strategic objectives, and so completely removed from organized politics that they were too weak to properly fulfil their role, and this opened the way for traditional power centres to step in as mediators.

• Although the state resorted to violence (verbal, physical, and institutional) as a fundamental feature of its interventions in the city’s poor districts, the mechanisms used by the residents to press their demands were quite different — they drew on a philosophy of resistance and perseverance and popular wellsprings of creativity, tradition, and custom as their source of strength. In this connection, the religious dimension of everyday life determined the process to a great degree and became a key point of departure for shaping identities and marking out political and organizational spaces within the communities.

• The perceptions, opinions, and stances that people adopted in response to the nature and implications of urban redevelopment seemed to vary, depending on their stage in the eviction process. Thus, when the evictions were actually taking place — and given the way they were carried out — we found a greater emphasis on opposing the form and content of the evictions through mounting resistance and making demands. Then, as people were resettled in their newly built surroundings, they tended to give themselves over to feelings of contentment with their-new situation and to grant a certain degree of legitimacy to the state’s actions. These different stances seemed to depend mainly on the people’s degree of organization, ideological and political viewpoints, feelings of identity and belonging to a social space, the extent to which the community constituted a social and territorial unit, and the cultural and historical reference points of these communities at the time. Other aspects included the geographic location of the settlements, the vertical or horizontal nature of the housing projects, and the degree of permanence of the group in its new locale.

• From the viewpoint of the residents, building and maintaining an identity proved very difficult because of their lack of any legal recourse (in the normative sense particularly) to help them preserve their way of life, their living space, etc. This weakness did not, however, prevent the assertion of another kind of right, one that was rooted in people’s traditions and customs and that their resistance to violations of their legal rights reinforced. The evictions thus helped to demonstrate that identities can essentially survive while being altered or redefined as people’s environments changed.

An assessment of the changes observed in the eviction process

The following changes occurred in the eviction process during the period under study:

• From an initial stage of resistance and demands to the progressive elaboration of alternative proposals in the face of the evictions;

• From the massive, forceable evictions of 1987 and 1988 to greater and more successful use of negotiations;

• From evictions carried out without any information, or with distorted or manipulated information, to evictions conducted on the basis of information supplied by the residents, their organizations, and the mediation bodies involved;

• From varied and inconsistent procedures to standardized ones, based on agreements between the state and groups of parish priests;

• From the victim’s passive suffering of the evictions to discussion and coordination among the state, the residents, their organizations, and expert advisors with respect to the plans for moving the inhabitants;

• From the state’s refusal to recognize and deal with neighbourhood organizations to its progressive acceptance of them in the later round of clearance projects (the cases of La Ciénaga, Morgan, etc.);

• From the preeminence of the construction companies in conducting all aspects of evictions to a reduction of their leading role in defining and managing the clearance projects; and

• From the isolation of the evictees in their struggle to the inclusion of other players from society at large (universities, professionals, discussion forums, etc.) in considering possible solutions to the problems of housing and resettlement.

These changes suggested that real progress was achieved between the earlier and later stages. And yet, the residents continued to be expelled from the inner city, and the make-shift settlements for them around the periphery burgeoned. The pressures to open the city up to investment, the segregation of social spaces, and the progressive deterioration of living conditions for the mass of urban dwellers still seemed to be the fundamental determinants of life in the city.

This situation suggested the following recommendations:

• An alternative concept of the rule of law was needed for the city, one that took into consideration both historical and current circumstances defining urban life and that also gave due weight to the rights of citizens.

• Neighbourhood organizations and technical advisory centres needed to be progressively involved in preparing and discussing proposals that affected the city as a whole, and proposals needed to be developed that transcended but did not ignore those problems that related solely to specific neighbourhoods or specific aspects of urban life.

• Strategies needed to be developed that both recognized the vested interests of the inhabitants of the central areas of the city and promoted the organizational activities of residents relocated in the city’s outskirts.

• A coordinated and democratic system of management needed to be organized for the city, based on the values of decentralization, popular participation, autonomy, strengthened local government, recognition of community organizations, fulfilment of the state’s commitments to the residents, and institutionalization of action at the local level through organization, management, and training.

• Research was needed to deepen our understanding of relationships within the process of urbanization, using concepts of development but also giving special attention to the protection of human rights (to living space and housing) and the potential for recognition of alternative rights.

• Stricter attention needed to be given to human-rights violations within the city, and a greater degree of dialogue and interaction needed to be encouraged between the citizens and their local governments.

• New forms of popular education that recognized the richness of the city’s social and organizational fabric, encouraged people to form their own identities and to relate openly to one another, and took into account the specific experiences of each local community needed to be developed and promoted.

This page intentionally left blank

Chapter 4

Lauren Royston

Planact, Johannesburg, South Africa1


One of the central characteristics of urban apartheid in South Africa over its nine decades was the forced evictions of millions of black South Africans from their homes. Within the urban areas, freehold settlements, such as Sophiatown, Lady Selboume, Marabastad, District Six, and Cato Manor, were destroyed, and black residents were forced to move to “formal townships” (where black people were forced to live) on the periphery of the white cities and towns. This was legally sanctioned by statutes such as the Black (Urban Areas) Act (1923) and the Group Areas Act (GAA) (1950). Shack areas were torn down, and people were moved into the segregated townships. Many hundreds of thousands of black people were evicted from the urban areas altogether and removed to the “homelands,” small areas of mainly rural land set aside for black people’s occupation. This was done through coercive means, such as destroying property and loading people onto buses and trucks, as well as through arrests and deportations under the pass-law system (a system requiring nonwhites to have a pass when in the white districts).

At one time, the urban poor no longer had to struggle against directly coercive attempts at removal, but evictions were still threatening those living in “freestanding” informal settlements (those located outside the boundaries of formal townships); in backyard shacks (shacks in backyards of formal houses in the townships); inner-city rented apartments; and private housing (with financial linkages mainly to banks). The experience of eviction was common at one time or another

1 Planact is a nonprofit organization working in the field of housing, local government, and urban development.

to all communities living in the settlements discussed in this paper. These communities were engaged in struggles against attempted removal, threat of demolition, and attack, as well as in struggles for survival, more land, affordable and secure housing, decent services, access to the urban economy, and democratic representation.

State urban policy

A significant shift in state policy took place in 1986 when the South African government announced the end of urban-influx controls. This removed the system of pass laws, which had previously controlled the movement and settlement of black people, especially in relation to the white urban areas.

After 1986, although state urban policies had changed, many still had profoundly negative consequences for the majority of South Africans. It became increasingly apparent that the state was still using a variety of mechanisms to control the access of black people to the urban areas. These mechanisms included ostensibly nonracial legislation pertaining to health standards, slums, and illegal squatting; more directly, the state used coercive means.

In addition, economic and market forces were used to divide the cities in ways that favoured the interests of the traditional apartheid elites — access to the cities was increasingly being defined in terms of levels of income. The South African state had adopted a policy of privatization of the supply and ownership of housing, thus putting most new housing projects out of the reach of low-income (black) South Africans. Resistance from middle-class white (and sometimes black) property owners, expressed in terms of “standards” and “property values,” urban policies, and attitudes within the private sector, in no way contributed to addressing the effects of forced removals over the previous nine decades.

In February 1990, with the legalization of organizations like the African National Congress (ANC), a new era began in South Africa. The concept of orderly urbanization, which was adopted in 1986, began to take on a more central role in policy-making. Urban policy began to focus on creating more efficient cities. For example, the inefficient and highly subsidized transport system took people from marginal formal and informal townships to centres of employment invariably at great distances from residential areas. Recent state-commissioned studies have called for better managed, orderly, and more efficient compact cities.

The state (in the form of the four provincial administrations) was caught between the desire to be seen to deliver something to the homeless, in the event of forthcoming national elections, and to be sympathetic to, and protect the rights of, the propertied classes, predominantly in South Africa’s formerly white residential areas. Caught in this dilemma, the state responded to crises by encouraging local negotiations but had no overall planning framework. It seemed unwilling to commit itself to either side. If one followed closely where delivery was taking place, it was in apartheid-designated African areas, many of which were inaccessible to urban opportunity or on the periphery. The effects of this approach included the displacement and marginalization of certain groups of urban residents (particularly the unemployed and homeless), bad living conditions, the fragmentation of existing communities, and the heightening of social, cultural, economic, political, and spatial divisions within and between urban communities.

Legal framework2

Racially based legislation in South Africa provided the most significant barrier to access to the city. After 1991, much of this legislation had been repealed, but conditions were still in a state of uncertain flux, as many of the new procedures had not been in effect for long.

The Abolition of Racially Based Land Measures Act (ARBLMA), which became law on 30 June 1991, provided for the repeal of most legislation in South Africa that restricted access to land, and hence access to the city, on the basis of racial classification. Included in the laws repealed was the notorious GAA, which set aside areas for exclusive occupation by members of certain racial groups. As a result, racial segregation of South African cities by law no longer applied, and it was legally possible for black South Africans to live in the formerly white areas. However, the ARBLMA provided no enforcement procedures, and many landlords still refused to allow black South Africans to rent accommodation in the formerly white areas. No legal mechanisms existed to challenge this informal racial segregation, and often the result was chronic overcrowding in areas where it was possible to rent. This overcrowding was due to a lack of accommodation, as well as to exploitatively high rents. These were made possible by the gradual phasing out of the Rent Control Act, of 1976, which had previously ensured relatively affordable rents and linked rents to maintenance levels.

Various pieces of legislation, such as the Prevention of Illegal Squatting Act (PISA), of 1951, remained on the statute books and were vigorously enforced to prevent land invasions and the like (the Trespass Act, of 1959, was also used extensively to prevent informal settlements). However, Supreme Court decisions regarding the eviction of squatters helped to lessen the draconian affects of PISA, and it was unusual to hear of a court ordering the removal of squatters unless alternative accommodation or land was available for resettlement.

2 Graeme Reid, a lawyer working at Planact, assisted with this section.

Before the ARBLMA was passed, diverse legislation governed the development of land in various racially zoned areas. In each of the four provinces, provincial ordinances governed the township-establishment process in white, “coloured,” and Indian group areas. By contrast, in African townships the process was set out in the now abolished Black Communities Development Act, of 1984, and regulations were promulgated in terms of that Act.

The procedures in the provincial ordinances were extremely time consuming and could take up to 2 years, sometimes even longer, to complete, so they were accordingly highly inappropriate for the establishment of townships for low-income housing. To address this problem, a new Act was passed, the Less Formal Township Establishment Act (LFTEA), of 1991, which allowed for speedier township-establishment procedures, regardless of the situation of the land.

LFTEA made delivery of serviced, registerable sites possible at reduced costs, but it failed to address various issues affecting access to the cities. For example, it neglected to address the availability or costs of well-located land. The authorities could expropriate land, and LFTEA could be used even within the boundaries of the white towns (where most well-located land was to be found), but such land remained highly priced, and expropriation laws required that full market prices be paid if the state decided to expropriate land for low-income housing developments. As a result, when such developments did occur, they tended to be on the peripheries of the cities.

Furthermore, LFTEA placed no obligation on the authorities to develop land for low-income housing (and especially not the richer white local authorities [WLAs], which had for years failed to address, or even help address, the chronic housing shortage and poor services for Africans in the African townships adjacent to the white towns). Thus, although LFTEA may well have facilitated low-income developments, it did nothing to ensure they were carried out, nor did it create rights to housing for homeless people in and around the cities.

On the whole, the legal system, even though it was then purportedly racially blind, did not promote access to the cities for the poor. This was troubling enough. It was a problem that could only be addressed through a major overhaul of the legislative framework, as well as the common law, to shift the balance of the laws in favour of the poor. But without strong indications that any future Bill of Rights in South Africa would include a right to property, the likelihood of the law facilitating access to the city for the poor seemed remote.

Interests and actors in the Witwatersrand region

Local authorities

WLAs had full municipal powers and functions. Councillors were elected to their positions through municipal ward elections. Municipal income was raised mainly from taxes on trading services and property rates. The municipalities’ generally healthy financial situation was a result of the location of significant commercial and industrial tax bases within their boundaries.

Black local authorities (BLAs) were established in 1982 through the Black Communities Development Act. They were subject to tight control exercised by provincial authorities and central government. BLAs were financially unfeasible because they were responsible for low-income dormitory towns with no commercial or industrial tax bases. They were unable to effectively exercise power and were generally unable to deliver municipal services. The situation was exacerbated by the widespread boycott of rent and service charges and by the fact that low-income communities were located outside the major tax bases.

BLAs were targets of popular resistance from their outset. Councillors were not representative of major political parties. Participation in elections was negligible, and many councillors resigned their posts. Those town councils no longer served by councillors were run by state-appointed administrators.

Provincial administrations

The four provincial administrations in the country were appointed bodies, each headed by an administrator responsible to central government. They had no jurisdiction in municipal areas but had the powers of a local authority in peri-urban areas. Provincial authorities increasingly assumed administrative functions in nonfunctioning BLAs and peri-urban areas.

Regional services councils

Regional services councils (RSCs) were established in 1985, primarily as a result of the financial undercapacity of the BLAs to maintain, upgrade, and develop areas under their jurisdiction. RSCs were therefore seen as an attempt by the government to prop up the unpopular system of BLAs.

An RSC had all the powers and duties of a local authority, and these came into effect when the provincial administrator declared that a particular local authority was unable to perform a given function. RSCs were also meant to assume responsibility for services and functions deemed to be regional by the administrator. In practice, the most prevalent function of RSCs was the subsidization, rather than substitution, of BLA functions.

The civic movement

From about 1979, one of the most striking features of township politics was the emergence of civic organizations, frequently referred to as “community” organizations or simply as “civics.” Civics were born as a response primarily to rent increases in black townships, but they often expressed other civic and national concerns.

Civics represented residents on township issues and organized on a residential basis. Some were based in formal housing, others in the backyard shacks. There are, however, many areas of homeless people, especially in the free-standing shack areas, that were not well organized by any civics. Civics differed in terms of size, strength, capacity, and leadership — ranging from the likes of the Soweto Civic Association or the Alexandra Civic Organization (ACO), which had high-profile leadership and strong links with the national liberation struggle, to the weaker civics in smaller centres, whose concerns might be more focused on local issues.

Between 1986 and 1992, the organizational efforts of the civic movement included mass actions, such as the boycott of rent and service charges, the campaigns against unelected and unmandated BLAs, and local-level negotiations between civics and the state on the question of development. During 1990 and 1991, as the crisis of BLAs intensified, a series of local-level negotiations began, especially in Transvaal province. The Greater Benoni Forum (GBF) and the Alexandra Joint Negotiating Forum (AJNF) were examples of such initiatives. The primary forum for negotiations of the future local government for the central Witwaters-rand area was the Central Witwatersrand Metropolitan Chamber. Through these forums, civics were increasingly linking specific local-government concerns with broader development issues, like inadequate land, housing, and services (Coovadia 1991). Struggles were waged for nonracial democratic local government and urban-development policies that reflected the needs of the cities’ poor.

In the 1990s, subregional, regional, and national associations of civics were established. In Johannesburg, the Civic Associations of Johannesburg (CAJ) comprised 11 civics, including the ACO, the Soweto Civic Association, the Action Committee to Stop Evictions (ACTSTOP), Eldorado Park, Lenasia, and Klipspruit. The Civic Associations of the Southern Transvaal was a regional federation of civics in the southern Transvaal and included CAJ. The South African National Civic Organization was launched in March 1992.

Community struggles in the Witwatersrand about housing and evictions were also raising national political issues such as the democratic representation and rights of the homeless, the unpropertied, the unrepresented, the poor, and the unemployed. The urban poor struggled for access to the city and the potential opportunities afforded by some urban areas. The spatial form of the apartheid city ensured that access was skewed in favour of the traditional apartheid elites, thus disadvantaging the poor and working-class communities. Their struggles were to overcome the effects of decades of social, economic, and political peripheraliza-tion, including forced removal and eviction under apartheid. Examples are the following:

• The struggle of informal settlers against relocation, such as in the case of Phola Park;

• The struggles of people against eviction for not paying their rent, such as in the Johannesburg inner city;

• The struggles of backyard shack dwellers to maintain a foothold in the urban system, such as in Alexandra;

• The struggles for more land in overcrowded townships, such as Watt-ville; and

• The struggle for proper democratic consultation in the drafting of new legislation — not public-participation window dressing that looks fair on paper but gives communities no power in legislative decisionmaking.

Regional and local variations in the strategies, methods, and tactics of these struggles will be made clear in the case studies. The first study was of Wattville, a formal township on the East Rand. Three areas of the inner city — Berea, Hillbrow, and Joubert Park — were the subject of the second. The third study was of Alexandra, a formal township on the Central Rand. The fourth study was of Phola Park, a free-standing informal settlement on the East Rand. Figure 1 shows the layout of the entire Witwatersrand region.

Unlike most black townships in South Africa, Alexandra and Wattville were relatively well located for employment opportunities, urban facilities, transport nodes, etc. Both escaped deproclamation in the heyday of grand apartheid planning. However, the two townships were extremely overcrowded. Berea, Hill-brow, and Joubert Park were reserved for white settlement. In the 1970s, despite racial legislation, black people began moving into these areas of the inner city from the reserved towns on the urban fringe. The inner-city residential buildings were in poor condition, with little or no maintenance or upgrading.


Figure 1. The Witwatersrand region informal (“squatter”) settlements. Source: Planact (1992).

Phola Park was an informal community that had undergone immeasurable hardship. Shacks had been demolished countless times, and the community had experienced excessive levels of violence. The most basic services were in large part nonexistent.

The form of tenure inside the boundaries of black townships in formal housing units was rental (from the council) or purchase (99-year leasehold or freehold in areas of townships). In most cases, backyard shack dwellers rented from the prime tenant. If the formal house on the stand3 was rented from the council, the backyard shack dwellers had a normal landlord—tenant relationship with the occupier of the house. There was no legal recognition of this kind of tenure. It was an informal-lease arrangement with the person who had occupation. In other cases, less frequently, the backyard shack dweller rented directly from the council. This was the case in Alexandra.

Residents of informal settlements had no legal rights in terms of PISA, unless the area was designated in terms of LFTEA. According to section 6 of PISA, “squatters” could be granted the right to stay in a declared transit camp with the intention of removal at some point. If an informal settlement was declared in terms of section 6A of the same Act (which has mow been abolished in favour of LFTEA), “squatters” could stay and the area would be upgraded. LFTEA allowed a freehold form of tenure, with no form of leasehold or rent. In most shack areas, a landlord-tenant relationship existed, although it was illegal. For example, a farmer might rent out land for people to occupy “informally” — a process known as “shack farming.” Sometimes relations developed within the community in which access to sites was controlled by “shack lords” in exchange for political patronage. Sometimes occupation of the site was against the will of the owner.

In the inner-city areas of Johannesburg, most relations between landlord and tenant were private. Some council housing was available, but it had been developed mainly for white occupation.



The eastern portion of the Witwatersrand metropolitan region was called the East Rand (see Figure 1). An extension of the Witwatersrand gold-bearing reef, the East Rand developed as a location for industry connected with mining. Wattville was the oldest surviving township on the East Rand and was close to the white towns of Benoni, Boksburg, and Brakpan (Figure 2). Wattville was also the most overcrowded township on the East Rand. Estimates of the population of Wattville ranged from 28 000 to 40 000.

3 A South African term meaning “a plot or site earmarked for the erection of a building.”

4 This section was based on interviews with Planact project coordinator in Wattville, Ahmedi Vawda; notes taken from workshops with the Wattville Concerned Residents Committee (WCRC) and the Wattville Team in Planact; and newspaper coverage of the land invasions led by WCRC.


Figure 2. Wattville. Note: CBD, commercial-building district. Source: Planact (1992).

Families occupied formal houses, rented rooms, and lived in outbuildings in Wattville. In Tamboville (the site of one of the land invasions to the south of the old township) most households occupied shacks. About 21% of households in Wattville comprised more than 10 people. Some stands were occupied by more than 30 people (Social Surveys 1991).

Of Wattville’s economically active population, about 80% worked in nearby Benoni, Boksburg, Germiston, or Wattville. About 20% of Wattville’s population could walk to work (Social Surveys 1991). These statistics reflect Wattville’s optimal location, especially in comparison with other townships reserved for black settlement.

Throughout its relatively long history, Wattville saw numerous attempts to remove its residents, especially frequent in the period between 1968 and 1985. Efforts were made to move the Wattville population to Daveyton, a township on the metropolitan periphery, in conformity with apartheid social and spatial engineering. In some cases attempts were made to remove the population to the “independent,” self-governing homelands.

Residents continuously struggled for more land to alleviate extremely overcrowded living conditions. However, the authorities consistently failed to respond to the needs of the majority of people living in Wattville. The most successful form of delivery was land invasion. Indeed, Wattville itself only came into being through the illegal occupation of some council-built houses in 1941.

Land invasion: a strategy for gaining access

The history of Benoni illustrates that the only effective form of land delivery was community-driven land invasion. Either land that had been invaded became a recognized settlement, or an invasion forced the authorities to deliver land. For example,

• The land invasion of Tamboville in 1990 successfully forced the Benoni Town Council (BTC) to respond to the crisis of land and housing in Wattville; and

• The land invasion of Enkanini in 1991 led to a court ruling preventing the Wattville Town Council (WTC) from evicting the residents and the allocation of additional land, called Tamboville 2.

These invasions were led by the Wattville Concerned Residents Committee (WCRC). Formed in 1985, WCRC had the popular support of the majority of people in Wattville. Its claims to representation were substantiated by the findings of the social survey, which indicated more support for WCRC than for any other institution (Social Surveys 1991). However, this was especially difficult in the period of severe state repression between 1985 and 1989, when WCRC was forced underground. It was relaunched in February 1989 and began to campaign around the issues of the shortage of land and housing and the illegitimacy of WTC.

Very little land was vacant or undeveloped in Wattville. Tracts of vacant land within Wattville had been sold to private developers by WTC, despite the need of Wattville’s low-income population. WCRC had repeatedly attempted to engage the BLA with its demands. Mass demonstrations were held for more land and housing. Finally, in June 1990, at a mass meeting to discuss the acute housing shortage, the community agreed that people would start erecting shacks on an open site to the south of the township owned by BTC and earmarked by WTC for recreational use or, as the residents feared, for sale to private developers for middle-income housing. The site was named Tamboville, after the former president of the ANC, Oliver Tambo, who lived there until he was exiled (see Figure 2). At this stage, WCRC drew up a waiting list of their own, as the council would not permit them to see the official waiting list. An allocation committee was elected, and people living in backyards and overcrowded houses were registered.

However, on the day when residents, led by WCRC, marched to the vacant land to the south of the township to mark out sites, they were blocked by police. Although the Benoni town clerk had apparently given assurance that no arrests would be made, police fired tear gas into the crowd and arrested 34 people for trespassing. Residents gathered in Wattville after the arrests and decided to return to the site, erect more shacks, or hand themselves over to the police. Fearing a march on the police station, BTC suggested to the police that those arrested be released.

At another mass meeting in July, WCRC agreed on a set of demands to be tabled with BTC. BTC agreed to meet with WCRC, provided that no more shacks were erected. To the surprise of the WCRC, BTC granted permission to the residents, represented by WCRC, to remain. The council’s decision was historic. Not only had it avoided the familiar town-council response of shack demolition, but it had ignored the legal technicalities — this land was in a white area. The media labelled it “The Benoni Option.” The Benoni town clerk appeared on national television, and WCRC and BTC gave a joint press conference.

BTC also resolved to allocate two million ZAR from its capital development fund, for the installation of water and sewerage facilities, which would be recovered from the residents over time, and to develop 659 sites at Tamboville (in 1998, 4.4 rand [ZAR] = 1 United States dollar [USD]). It was agreed that a properly planned township would be laid out in the area, and a joint technical committee (JTC) was set up for this purpose. The JTC, comprising BTC and WCRC, assumed responsibility for the administration of the Tamboville project. The WLA’s recognition of a civic, reflected in equal representation on the JTC, was a historic political milestone.

Tamboville 1, 27 ha of land, accommodated about 4500 people. At this time, WCRC felt that section 6A of PISA was seen by WCRC as the best mechanism for township establishment, although it had always been used to forcibly remove poor people and exclude them from access to the city. The alternatives, either the township ordinance procedure or the Black Communities Development Act, were seen as restrictive means to township establishment. With new legislative procedures, the township was likely to be proclaimed under LFTEA. Although the process was conflict ridden, people living in Tamboville 1 finally acquired for themselves relatively secure tenure on additional land. This sense of security was reflected in the construction of many permanent structures.

Subsequent to the Tamboville invasion, however, no additional land was made available. About 80 of Wattville’s homeless families moved onto Enkanini in November 1990 (see Figure 2), despite knowing that the land was geotech-nically unsuitable. The land was not invaded to establish permanent settlement but to force a response from WTC. Although the land was meant for new council offices, the BLA intended selling off the land. The new owners, backed by WTC, brought an urgent court application to evict the squatters. In the ensuing legal battle between WTC and WCRC, the court ruled that suitable land had to be found within or near Wattville to accommodate those people living at Enkanini before anyone could be asked to move. The magistrate effectively prevented the forced removal of the settlement while making a provision for the allocation of a physically suitable site.

Accordingly, another piece of land, 3 ha, was made available adjacent to a dried-fruit-packaging plant. The community called it Tamboville 2. The land was owned by BTC, WTC, and the dried-fruit plant and fell under the municipal jurisdiction of WTC. Although BTC consented to having settlement on its portion of the land, the dried-fruit company and WTC were less willing. People were living there, but formal development could not occur at this stage. Money for the development of Tamboville 2 was raised from the Independent Development Trust (IDT). Soon after, 550 people, 82 households, settled on about half the land.

The civic led another invasion onto a piece of land to the southeast of Wattville overlooking a lake within WTC jurisdiction. WTC requested the group of about 30 families to leave immediately. However, Lakeview seemed established (see Figure 2). Households had invested in semipermanent infrastructure. The residents had graded roads and tapped into a water source nearby.

WCRC secured an agreement with BTC to investigate a portion of land adjacent to Wattville for future occupation for low-cost housing. Although the residents who had settled on sites where official approval was still pending had absolutely no intention of leaving (and a good historical record to bear them out), their position remained uncertain. However, in comparison with negotiating for land, the planned land-invasion strategy had proven quick and efficient in Wattville.

The struggle against an illegitimate local authority

WTC was perceived as having failed utterly to respond to the most fundamental needs of the community. Not only had it failed to allocate land to alleviate the acutely overcrowded living conditions of the majority of the residents of Wattville and repeatedly allocated land for private development, but it had also increased rent and service charges. In March 1990, the community made the decision to pay a flat rate of 50 ZAR per month for services only (electricity, water, and refuse) to BTC. The community refused to pay rent, as this went directly to the BLA.

In addition to losing rent and service charges, WTC was being squeezed out even more by its absence from negotiations leading to the historic acceptance of the Tamboville settlement. It was further marginalized by the administrative arrangements between WCRC and BTC with regard to Tamboville. Also, in making the land available to the residents of Wattville, Benoni had rescinded an agreement to sell the land to the WTC, which wanted it for residential use. All local authorities were seen by the majority of South Africans as apartheid structures, and the calls for their dissolution were part of the demands made by civics throughout the country in the struggle for access to the city. For WCRC, both BTC and WTC were nonrepresentative and lacked legitimacy. However, WCRC perceived BTC as the real source of power in the city. To access this resource, it was necessary to resist the BLA (examples of such resistance are the Tamboville 1 invasion and the rent boycott).

The strategy of engagement: the Greater Benoni Forum

Following the success of the Tamboville 1 invasion, WCRC entered into negotiations with BTC. This marked a strategic shift from an orientation of resistance and confrontation to one of engagement in the struggle for development resources. Up until then, development issues had not been on the agenda of WCRC.

WCRC was still calling for the resignation of WTC, represented by the call for “One Town, One Council,” which encapsulated the demand for nonracial, liveable urban areas, in which economically functional geographical spaces were united. WCRC’s participation in GBF connected this localized response to the illegitimacy of all BLAs. The division between Wattville and Benoni was, as in all apartheid “twin” towns, an artificial distinction, as they constituted one urban reality. Although WCRC continued primarily to articulate demands borne out of the particular conditions of its Wattville constituency, participation in GBF placed its demands in the East Rand metropolitan context.

The forum had representation from two civics in the subregion, WCRC and the Daveyton Interim Committee, the local authorities in the subregion (BTC, Daveyton Town Council, and WTC), and the regional authority (the Transvaal Provincial Administration [TPA]). The issues it dealt with were the provision of services, development, and the establishment of interim administrative arrangements. In this connection, WCRC articulated its call for a single city.

As a result of negotiations in GBF, agreements were entered into in November 1991. With reference to Wattville, BTC would act as agent for WTC in the provision of essential services to Wattville. These agreements were conditional on the BLAs transferring houses to the residents who rented them and writing off arrears rent and service charges. The agency arrangements were negotiated and agreed on. However, negotiations broke down over dissatisfaction with implementation. In 1993, negotiations were close to a deadlock and the forums had been suspended. Only one ad hoc committee was operative, and it was investigating ways to make progress.

The Wattville Concerned Residents Committee

Having previously been confrontational, defensive, and resistance oriented, concerning itself with mass actions, such as instigating boycotts and protest marches, WCRC found itself engaging with the local state in the subregional negotiating forum and articulating development issues. WCRC had transformed itself from a means of resistance to a means of advancement. Its concerns had changed from those primarily of resistance to apartheid to those of rebuilding Wattville.

WCRC had a civic executive with portfolios, subcommittees (land, finance and administration, negotiations and technical, unemployment, health, and amenities), and area committees broken down into seven zones. Wattville was therefore noticeable for the absence of organizational forms such as street committees, but area committees had been able to include all those interested in participation. Wattville was not caught up in insurrectionary politics of the period in which many street committees were developed for defence. Wattville consequently never had to face transforming defence committees into structures to advance development issues. WCRC was well resourced. These resources were financial, but they also comprised skills and expertise drawn in from outside the community. Such resources enabled WCRC to increase its capacity and to deliver to the community, for example, a site layout plan for Tamboville 1.

In mid-1989, realizing the futility of attempts to approach WTC about the increases in rent and service charges, WCRC approached lawyers to petition the relevant minister for a Commission of Enquiry into the affairs of WTC. WCRC also approached Planact with a request for research and education on land availability, density, optimal land use, the sale of council houses, rent, service charges, conditions of service provision, and local government finance. Subsequently, WCRC engaged the support of a range of service organizations in the field of education, training, health, and job creation. This support varied, ranging from financial support to advice or skills. Financial resources were secured from BTC, IDT, a French nongovernmental organization, and a variety of other funding agencies, both local and foreign.

WCRC ensured that appropriate community structures were in place to facilitate community-controlled development. For example, a JTC was established during the meetings and negotiations that occurred following the Tamboville invasion. This JTC was to deal with issues of planning, finance, and local government and to be guided by agreed-on terms of reference. A community-development trust (CDT), set up by WCRC, managed, but did not determine, the uses to which funding was put. Finally, a housing association was to be set up by WCRC to recover individuals’ rent, and this housing association would come to own the housing stock over time as people sold.

WCRC recognized that a united front was required for the negotiation of social contracts. It acknowledged diverse interests within the Wattville community by evenly distributing the resources it gained. Accordingly, it responded to a range of demands, from tenure to health and from schools to sewerage, by allocating everything from financial support to technical advice. For example, private home owners with postoccupancy problems were brought into the civic — a zone that the civic dubbed “Long Cracking Homes.” WCRC leadership had a history of experience with union organization in the metal industry on the East Rand. The democratically organized structures functioned much as a union. In addition, members of the executive had experience as former United Democratic Front organizers. WCRC managed to deliver; it demonstrated its achievements and effectively used capacity and resource inputs to maintain and expand active and latent support. This further averted any potential internal community organizational conflict.

Actors and their interests

Although Wattville was remarkable for its unity and cohesion, it was by no means a homogeneous community — it had several interest groups:

• People on the waiting list;

• Those settled in Tamboville;

• New arrivals, subletting backyard space in Tamboville 1;

• Private home owners experiencing postoccupancy problems; and

• Households remaining in the old matchbox houses in Wattville.

Of particular significance was the impact of the destruction of the extended family network on affordability for people in Tamboville 1 and those remaining in Wattville. This occurred through the departure of sections of families to Tamboville and the separation of the main breadwinners from one part of the households. Survival mechanisms, developed over long periods, were destroyed.

In addition, it was significant that relations between hostel and township dwellers were fairly uncomplicated. Hostels were single-sex barracks developed to house migrant workers (with a homeland base to return to) as temporary residents in urban areas. Many of the hostel dwellers established a community of their own over a long period of return migration. Over time, many hostel dwellers had in fact moved into Wattville. Township residents and hostel dwellers had a long historical relationship borne out of shared production space and organization by the same union. Hostel dwellers had, however, been particularly disadvantaged historically. Their status as migrants in the city meant that they could not include their names on the official waiting lists for housing.

WTC, which came into office on a 16% poll, had effectively been outmanoeuvred by WCRC by means of the land invasions. The invasion of Tamboville in 1990 had altered the nature of interactions. BTC’s decision to work with WCRC after the June 1990 invasion of Tamboville marked a break with the past. BTC was dominated by the National Party, whose intentions for housing for low-income communities in South Africa were unclear. This intransigence provided councils like BTC with an opportunity to adopt the cautious approach of “negotiations — wait and see” to local government. However, it had a white constituency to please, and this community’s opposition to low-income development “in their backyards” was assured. In subsequent handling of additional land demands, BTC adopted a less innovative and a more cautious approach. In 1993, it finally released a piece of land for further development.

Benoni was surrounded by the Brakpan and Boksburg councils, which were dominated by the Conservative Party and fearful of the white electorate’s reaction to land allocation for black development. In response to Tamboville, councillors expressed concern at a likely increase in the crime rate and the serious health hazard that a squatter camp would present to neighbouring suburbs. The Brakpan Town Council erected a wall between Tamboville and its municipal boundary. Local media were split between calling it the “new Berlin Wall” and the “old apartheid wall.” However, 3 months after the wall was erected, the surrounding white residents were invited to a community meeting and soon after this adopted a different approach and joined the residents of Tamboville in a historic clean-up operation in the area. A symbolic tree-planting ceremony marked a mood of unity and cooperation that was as surprising as it was rare in a country filled with racial mistrust.


This case study documents the housing crisis and land shortage in Wattville, the actions, methods and tactics of WCRC, and the successful delivery of land through the invasion of Tamboville. The long history of struggle and sense of tradition and the stability of the community were largely responsible for the unity and cohesion that enabled one to refer to Wattville as a “community” more realistically than one could in the case of many other areas. WCRC’s success was due to its ability to democratically articulate the needs for housing and land in the Wattville community through a series of land invasions, beginning with Tamboville.

The inner city5


This section highlights the struggle of poor and working-class people for affordable housing and security of tenure in Johannesburg’s inner city. As the GAA became difficult to enforce in the 1980s, and black people moved into inner-city Johannesburg, their official status gradually evolved from that of pariahs to that of people who were simply ignored; then to that of people who were given some vague consideration as future voters.

Residents of the “Seven Buildings” shared living conditions and had a sense of a unified struggle against a single landlord. This led to negotiations about the proposed sale of the buildings and consequently to the emergence of a path-breaking project for social housing in the inner city. The Seven Buildings Project Working Group was formed in late 1991 to develop this project. It comprised representatives of the buildings and technical advisors from service organizations (led by a team of lawyers). This approach was interesting as a method for gaining access to the city.

5 This section was based on interviews with Monty Narsoo, a project worker at Co-Operative Planning and Education, a service organization that worked in Johannesburg’s inner city, and Patrick Bond, a Planact researcher on the Seven Buildings Project.

“Slum clearance” and forced removal under apartheid

Johannesburg, a city founded in the mid-1880s, following extensive gold discoveries, quickly became the central node for commerce and industry in the Transvaal area of South Africa. Known as Egoli (City of Gold), Johannesburg developed as a major industrial centre early in the 20th century, and the east end of the inner city housed working-class whites and provided space for factory premises for small-scale manufacturing. Before the beginning of fully effective urban racial segregation in the 1940s, slum-yards emerged in an east—west belt across the city. Initially, slum clearance and health regulations were used to remove poor black people from the inner city. Over the course of time, however, the criteria for exclusion became increasingly racial. In 1923, the government passed the Urban Areas Act, which included total residential segregation, the abolition of freehold rights for Africans, and the nonpermanence of Africans in urban areas (in accordance with the infamous dogma that Africans had no rights to be in urban areas, except as labourers).

The 1950s and 1960s witnessed the systematic removal of people from the inner city in accordance with the GAA, passed by the new National Party government in 1950. Pockets of property in white areas that were still in the hands of black people, including Alexandra and Wattville, were targeted for removal. The GAA was used to remove black, Indian, and coloured people and resettle them on sites at a distance from the city. For example, Indians living in Fordsburg and Pageview were removed to Lenasia (see Figure 1 for the location of Lenasia). Following the establishment of Orlando and other sections of Soweto in the 1930s and 1940s, Sophiatown was finally removed in the 1950s, and many other black people were resettled in Meadowlands in Soweto from about 1955.

Toward the end of the 1960s, black people had been almost entirely removed from the inner city. However, the implementation of the grand apartheid dream failed in some small but significant instances. For example, an urban underclass continued to live in Hillbrow and to work in activities like prostitution and the drug trade. In addition, black people worked as domestic servants for middle-and high-income whites and were usually accommodated in servants’ quarters on these properties.

The “greying” of the inner city

Following two decades of severe repression, the system of enforced segregation began to dissolve, especially in inner-city areas such as Hillbrow and Joubert Park (Figure 3). Mass removals from Johannesburg to peripheral townships slowed in the late 1970s. Increasing numbers of black people began to move back in implicit


Figure 3. Johannesburg’s inner city. Note: CBD, commercial-building district. Source: Planact (1992).

defiance of apartheid law — a process that came to be known as “greying.” The move into the inner city, which began in the mid-1970s, was not primarily based on an organized, political strategic challenge to racial legislation (although it effectively did this through the de facto desegregation of the inner city). Rather, the struggle for inner-city accommodation reflected the more generally acute need for accommodation. Black people were prepared to risk harassment and eviction to meet their housing needs.

Their reasons for moving to the inner city were varied. By this time, a generation of people had been living in townships, and the combination of natural population growth and the government policy of curbing black urbanization (including a dramatic decline in housing provision from the late 1970s) meant that townships were extremely overcrowded. On the other hand, housing stock in the inner city was becoming available as residential suburbanization and the decline of the standards of 1930s-era buildings began to push and pull white residents outward. There was an evolution in the property market as surplus accommodation grew in the white-designated inner city. Both estate agents and property owners were therefore willing to let and sell property to black people, even though it was against the law. Indeed, because the GAA made black residence in the inner city illegal, exploitative rents could be charged and the Rent Control Act could be ignored.

Many residential buildings, mainly in the “flatlands” of Joubert Park and Hillbrow, were illegally occupied by black residents. Between 1976 and 1988, about 55 000 black people moved to the central suburbs, reserved for whites. Black people were generally forced to take whatever was available to them: various forms of formal rented accommodation, the basements of tenement blocks, offices, disused servants’ rooms on the roofs of buildings, empty warehouses and garages, and abandoned shops and offices on the periphery of the central business district.

It was out of these circumstances that ACTSTOP developed in the 1980s to defend the rights of black tenants in the inner city, in a situation in which, in fact, they had no legal rights. The success of ACTSTOP, assisted by public-interest lawyers, made the spontaneous trend irreversible. Initially, attempts to challenge the principle of eviction were unsuccessful: rulings were handed down, and offenders were prosecuted. Sometimes, challenging every threatened eviction of a black tenant in court assisted simply in delaying evictions. But after the historic Govender ruling, people in violation of the GAA could only be evicted if they had alternative housing. The government became increasingly reluctant to enforce the GAA in the 1980s, claiming that its hands were tied following this ruling. The government sought to enforce the Act (without evicting black tenants) by placing pressure on tenants to leave voluntarily and placing pressure on landlords to evict them.

Public resistance at the site of eviction was a common occurrence. Human barricades and the erection of tents on pavements were typical public displays of protest and solidarity. The tactic of using white “nominees” to sign leases on behalf of black people was initially used in the 1960s by black business people who sought to trade in white areas, but later it too became a tool to bypass residential segregation. However, it was significant at the time that black settlement did not provoke substantial white resistance. Although people were harassed in some cases, by and large the desegregation of the inner city was not accompanied by racial tension. Had resistance been more fierce, the government may have attempted to enforce segregation more vigorously.

Breaches of the GAA continued in the 1980s as black people settled illegally in the inner-city flatlands of Johannesburg, especially in places like Hillbrow and Joubert Park. In 1984, the Group Areas Amendment Act allowed commercial-building districts (CBDs) to be open to traders of all races. With the proclamation of 57 CBDs in the country as free-trade areas in 1987, the scene was set for the repeal of the GAA.

Trends in the inner city

The housing in the inner city was predominantly 1930s and 1940s residential units, generally in a state of decline and deterioration. Eleven-storey buildings with broken elevators, unrepaired water systems, worthless properties redlined by banks, and the lack of social infrastructure, like schools and clinics, all painted a picture of a lack of decent living conditions.

An emergent trend in the inner city was to convert residential and industrial property for office use. Land values on the western side of town were rising, with increasing investment in skyscraping office blocks. Vacancies in these office complexes stood at around 12% in 1992, with projections for even greater under-utilization of commercial space. Billions of ZAR were invested in such office buildings, with five major companies in control of the bulk of the CBD space. When the building boom was at its peak in the late 1980s, the difference between building cost and yield was eight times higher for office than residential space. Office development was thus more attractive to investors than residential property, and the result was a major increase in evictions as the CBD blossomed. The boom faded, but with land prices still at abnormal levels as a result of the years of CBD speculation, the legacy of evictions and rental increases for poor residents was difficult to undo. Under such conditions, the balance of forces rested against the tenant population.

By 1993, the occasional and uneasy alliance between landlords and black people over GAA violations had unravelled. In the first place, it was always unequal and exploitative but suited black people because of their insecurity in the inner city, given apartheid legislation. Increasingly, battles occurred between land-lords and tenants over the conditions of inner city buildings. Collective action to oppose poor conditions took the form of rent boycotts. In the Seven Buildings, owned by a single landlord, a settlement ended the rent boycott (see below). However, rent boycotts continued in numerous buildings in the Hillbrow and Joubert Park areas.

An important implication of the rent boycotts, given the general lack of affordable rents, was the withdrawal of housing stock from the residential market altogether. As the Johannesburg City Council (JCC) increased the rates and service charges, the landlords passed on these increased costs to tenants. In buildings in which tenants were boycotting, landlords were increasingly looking to sell. However, buyers were impossible to find, mainly because of the difficulty in obtaining bonds, which was due to the fact that most of the inner city had been redlined by financial institutions. An increasing number of landlords were boarding up blocks of flats, rather than renting them out.

The recent influx of black people into the inner city was almost certainly affected by current and ongoing violence in shack settlements and townships. The central city was perceived as a relatively safe place to live. In addition, the continuing and deepening housing crisis in many areas continued to draw black people even to slum buildings. Characteristic of the inner city were deteriorating residential units, large investments in office development (with high levels of vacancy), and the financial institutions’ redlining. These factors militated against security of tenure for poor people in the inner city. This suggested that the future focus of struggle would be against slumlordism, office development, and perhaps even gentrification.

The Seven Buildings Project

The Seven Buildings, owned by a single landlord, but spatially dispersed throughout the Hillbrow and Joubert Park neighbourhoods, were located within this context. In some ways, the Seven Buildings showed the typical problems that poor and working tenants faced, but not uniformly. Home to about 2 500 people, they were owned by Gorfil Brothers Investments. The family business began when Solly Gorfil immigrated to South Africa many decades earlier and began amassing a huge property portfolio. He was believed to be worth several tens of millions of ZAR, and the Seven Buildings represented around 5% of the family’s real-estate portfolio.

The Seven Buildings Project began in late 1991, with the aim of assuring affordable security of tenure through tenant ownership and control. Various financial models were proposed to meet the demands for secure and affordable tenure. The residents demanded that they own and manage the buildings in which they lived. This well-publicized project would have implications for tenants in Johannesburg and in other South African inner-city centres.

The project was a co-operative housing venture that guaranteed security of tenure without recourse to individual ownership. It was commonly perceived as a test case for social housing for black people in the inner city. The satisfaction of the residents’ need for access was premised on the condition that housing be affordable. Frequently, subletting was a prerequisite of affordable housing access. However, this scheme offered housing access within an off-market social-housing framework.

The scheme had the potential to solve the problems of physical decay, overcrowding, ever-rising rents, and landlord-tenant battles. It upheld the following principles:

• Rents would not increase out of proportion to costs;

• Housing would be for families with a modest income;

• Profiteering from land and property speculation would be eliminated; and

• Security of tenure would be the cornerstone of all contracts between the housing organization and individuals who were members of the scheme.

It was anticipated that the rehabilitation of the buildings would take place in such a way as to facilitate job creation, income generation, and mutual aid to the benefit of the residents of the building, and this would reduce the total cost of the rehabilitation.

Purchase and rehabilitation of the Seven Buildings required 10 million ZAR. From the beginning of 1992, consultations to find backing for the scheme were held with a range of public- and private-sector organizations, including the Development Bank of Southern Africa, IDT, and the Urban Foundation.

The demands for access to secure and affordable housing in a transitional environment ushered in the politics of negotiations. A working group was set up to negotiate with some of the major inner-city development players. The strategy of negotiations entailed a shift from an orientation of resistance and defence to one that essentially entailed the struggle for development. It became a struggle for development, rather than a struggle against evictions. The tenants were involved in three sets of negotiations:

Negotiations between the tenants and the landlord —In October 1991, the owner served notice on the tenants in the Seven Buildings, with a view to emptying the buildings to sell them on the open market. By November 1991, the tenants had not vacated, and Gorfil instituted legal proceedings in two of the buildings. In 1991, an Agreement of Settlement was reached between David Gorfil (the property owner) and ACTSTOP (working on behalf of the residents in six of the buildings). This settlement covered the payment of rent in arrears, the signing of jointly worked out lease agreements, and the execution of maintenance for damages suffered during an attack. Total arrears at the time of the agreement (that is, rent and electricity charges) were 253 785.29 ZAR. It was agreed that the owner would postpone legal action until March 1992, to allow tenants to raise the money needed to purchase the property. This deadline was subsequently postponed indefinitely. The landlord then rejected the offer made to him by the Seven Buildings Project Working Group. He wanted a “fair market value” for his property.

Negotiations between JCC and the tenants — The tenants were negotiating the following strategic demands: bridge financing for the initial purchase of the buildings, which the tenants would take over after a set period; a grant to upgrade the buildings; financing for subsidies; a revision of the rating system, as residential and commercial rates for electricity and water differed; and consideration of zoning and town-planning policies to encourage investors to be involved in residential-property development (incentives and disincentives). By 1993, the negotiations with the JCC had led to no concrete financial backing or assistance, although apparently such support was under consideration. This was to be considered by the Management Committee of JCC, which would decide the contribution that JCC would make.

Negotiations between the tenants and the banks — The tenants were negotiating for the banks to bring down the interest rate, which in 1993 stood at around 18% — beyond the reach of the cities’ poor. In addition, negotiations concerned the practice, on the part of financial institutions, of redlining certain areas.

The Action Committee to Stop Evictions

ACTSTOP had been formed to represent black tenants. It had been articulating the interests of the city’s poor for a long time. Accordingly, its methods, tactics, and strategies had undergone changes. Initially, it was primarily concerned with resistance to apartheid legislation, to evictions of black tenants from the inner city, and to municipal police. However, as restrictive laws were repealed, the strategies and tactics of ACTSTOP changed accordingly, and it began to struggle for access, with the basis for exclusion no longer being explicitly racial but economic.

Regular tenants’ meetings brought this community together, despite its being scattered over a wide geographic area. The level of organization was not uniform across the city. The Seven Buildings Project was the best organized, with floor committees in each building, although their operation was erratic. ACTSTOP had two people at its head office — a familiar capacity problem experienced by most civic organizations in the country, which made servicing the community difficult.

After the GAA was repealed, ACTSTOP was increasingly concerned with the struggle against, and resistance to, market-related evictions and with the struggle for development. It left its relationship with the Seven Buildings Project undefined but in general took up the demands of black tenants for secure tenure, affordable accommodation, and control and management of the buildings.

Actors and their interests

Business, given its huge investments, had an interest in ensuring that the inner-city environment did not decay. Office buildings in particular were under threat, both from the objective problem of overbuilding and from the subjective fears associated with the inner city. Problems associated with the deterioration of buildings, from aesthetic and security points of view, for example, were detrimental to their investments there.

JCC was still profoundly affected by the residues of apartheid. The all-white JCC had a generally uneasy relationship with the new black constituency. However, JCC was extremely concerned about the flight of business to the suburbs and the resultant erosion of its tax base — yet, it appeared to be immobilized when it came to actually halting the process.

JCC’s redevelopment-project proposals were aimed at the east end, where land prices were disproportionately high, relative to the value of the buildings. The plan envisaged aesthetic improvements and upgraded services, facilities, and amenities. Large corporations were expected to purchase these buildings, restore them, and sell them to their employees (many of whom were middle- and upper-income earners, mostly employed in the high-rise banking complexes in the central city). This scheme was expected to result in the movement of formally employed blacks into the inner city and to intensify the spatial marginalization of the seasonally employed and unemployed. JCC and business interests coalesced in opposition to the decay of the inner-city environment. These shared anxieties gave impetus to the formation of the Central Johannesburg Partnership (CJP) in late 1991. The involvement of some high-profile members of the community gave the stamp of legitimacy to the venture.

CJP, a few months old in 1993, was a forum in which significant inner-city players came together to negotiate inner-city development. The forum had representation from the public sector (that is, JCC), the black community (that is, ACTSTOP and CAJ), and the private sector (that is, big business interests, especially property developers and banks). CJP aimed to raise money through debentures and other shares and generate its own funds primarily in the CBD. The precise nature of the partnership was unclear, but the interests of private property (Anglo American Properties in particular) seemed to dominate.

In 1993, CJP had received much publicity but had delivered very little. Some leading business people proposed a 1% tax on all CBD property owned by members, which reflected the dire conditions forecast for the inner city. This would generate 28 million ZAR a year. The precise use to be made of this money was unclear but was understood to include cleaning, security services, and promotion of Johannesburg in international tourism and convention circuits.

Landlords in the inner city generally let the housing stock decline through lack of maintenance. However, they were unable to sell buildings because potential buyers were unable to obtain bonds. Many landlords were unwilling to enter into negotiations with tenants to tackle the rent boycott. In 1993, the quality of buildings was continuing to decline or they were left vacant. In the process, potential housing for the cities’ poor was lost.


ACTSTOP and other civic organizations became increasingly concerned with development as they struggled to gain control of their environment. Notwithstanding this, evictions still occurred, and people continued to struggle against them. However, the basis for exclusion became economic, rather than explicitly racial.

The Seven Buildings Project had numerous and important implications for the struggles of poor people in the city. This project was widely perceived as a demonstration test case. The extent to which it was able to secure financing, the extent to which the financing model worked, and the ways the political issues were managed could all hold lessons for other actors in the struggle for access. This project had a high media profile, and its failure or success could generate lessons for dealing with, at least, other problems of inner-city development and, at most, the wider development issues. If the project failed, the struggle for access to the city could be set back. Equally, its success would be a victory for poor people who had been struggling for decades against repression, harsh laws of segregation, exclusion, and peripheralization. It was likely to have significant policy implications and might impact on the major actors and their practices.

Tenants obtained in-principle agreements for bank financing, owing to the support of Anglo American Properties and the Urban Foundation. According to the agreement, funds would be lent on condition that normal collateral was enhanced by a “zero-coupon bond.” This would lower the bank’s exposure in the event of default, but it did nothing to enhance affordability for borrowers. CJP, which would help underwrite the deal, required 2.5 million ZAR in financing subsidies for the 10 million ZAR needed for purchase and rehabilitation. Agreement on the sale of the buildings was reached in early January 1993. The real tasks still lay ahead: ensuring that rehabilitation proceeded smoothly, protecting poor tenants from eviction, managing the project, and reproducing it across inner-city Johannesburg.



Alexandra township (or “Alex,” as the township was referred to by its residents) was surrounded by the white suburbs of Johannesburg and Sandton (Figure 4). This contrasted with most black townships in South Africa, which were located outside the cities, far from white residential areas and employment centres. Although Alexandra was close to the white, well-serviced, wealthy northern suburbs of Johannesburg, its conditions were appalling, with poor services, severe overcrowding, and a high unemployment rate. Alexandra was a densely packed patch of extreme poverty — “old” Alex had an area of little more than 1 square mile (2.59 km2).

Alexandra’s proximity to Johannesburg, Marlboro, Midrand, Randburg, and Sandton made it an ideal place to look for a job. Moreover, the Johannesburg light-industrial townships of Kew and Wynberg allowed residents employed there to walk to work, rather than spend large amounts of disposable income on transportation. In a 1990 survey of residents, 60% said that they walked to work (Woessner 1990).

6This section was based on discussions with Andrew Boraine, Planact project coordinator in Alexandra; Wendy Ovens, project worker in Alexandra; and Richard Mdakane, ACO executive member.


Figure 4. Alexandra. Note: CBD, commercial-building district. Source: Planact (1992).

At the edge of extinction: forced removal

Alexandra was established in 1905 and by 1912 was reproclaimed as a black and coloured residential area. It had existed at the edge of extinction for almost 50 years. Residents had struggled for security against various proposed removals. In 1939, organized white residents in the area lobbied JCC for the removal of Alex, on the grounds that it was a centre of criminal activity and a health hazard. Led by the Alexandra Township Native Vigilance Association, the community resisted removal. In 1952, a government planning commission recommended the reduction of Alexandra’s population. Alex was targeted again in 1957, during the destruction of Sophiatown. This was a suburb on the western boundaries of the Johannesburg CBD, famous in the 1940s and 1950s for its mixed race, class, and occupational composition. It was forcibly removed in the mid-1950s and rebuilt as Triomf (meaning “triumph” in Afrikaans) for white workers (see Stadler 1987). At this time, the population of Alexandra numbered 100000. By December 1960, 25 000 people were moved.

With the removal of much of this “black spot” on a “white group area,” landowners in Alexandra also lost the ownership of their property, although they maintained some form of legal tenure pending the government’s ability to pay for the property. Then, in 1962, an ad hoc committee, comprising various official bodies, recommended the transformation of Alexandra into a hostel city. By 1963 the population had been reduced to 52 000, and many sites had been purchased by the government. From 1963 to 1979, as many as 60000 residents were removed, and only 950 of the 6000 freehold stands remained in 1972.

Plans to entirely remove Alexandra were thwarted because funds for the construction of additional townships disappeared, adverse local and international public opinion increased, and accommodation in other townships was not forthcoming. Although about 2200 people were removed in 1974, only 35 families were removed in 1976. Alex was formally given a reprieve in 1979.

In the early 1980s, a master plan for the total redevelopment of Alex was approved. This plan was designed to accommodate home owners and people who could afford loans at market-based interest rates, whereas those who rented rooms or backyard shacks would be moved. The plan, which cost 25 million ZAR, delivered only 257 houses in a very small area. The plan failed largely because it was based on temporarily moving residents from their houses (in stages) while Alex was upgraded and rebuilt: in many cases, residents, who were suspicious after decades of forced removals, refused to move.

Toward the end of the 1970s, the Alexandra Residents’ Liaison Committee (ARLC) was established to prevent further removals, maintain the township for families, and upgrade the area. By the early 1980s, however, ARLC had begun to lose the confidence of the people. It seemed to many residents, that it represented only those people who would benefit from the redevelopment plan. An estimated 10000 “illegals” (that is, nonpermit holders), out of 50000 people, had been told to leave their homes.

After the enactment of the Black Local Authorities Act, in 1982, many members of ARLC became councillors on the Alexandra City Council (ACC). During this period, the Alexandra Residents’ Association became the main group mobilizing against rent increases and forced removals. In the early 1980s, the Alexandra Youth Congress (AYCO) began organizing yard, street, block, zone, and area committees to deal with, and to link local neighbourhood issues with, larger community issues. In addition, self-defence units were established to protect the community. Formed in November 1985, the Alexandra Action Committee (AAC) (organized by AYCO and other activists) became the central coordinating body for the various area committees.

In June 1985, the government imposed the first in a series of states of emergency. This provided legal justification to conduct the wholesale arrest of activists and to force organizations underground or into silence. During this period, the AAC, driven underground, was largely inactive. Several prominent community leaders, including AAC leader Moses Mayekiso (a prominent trade unionist), were put on trial for treason and kept in prison until 1989. Political and community activity in Alexandra was terrorized into invisibility. As late as 1988, 40 AAC activists were still in detention.

“Upgrading” Alexandra

During the 1986 state of emergency and the repression of popular organization that accompanied it, the South African government targeted Alexandra as an “oil spot,” based on counter-insurgency strategies of “pouring oil” (that is, resources) on “troubled water” (that is, black people) to dampen the growing mass resistance. This approach was designed to create political quiescence and to win the hearts and minds of enough people to create a buffer class between black poverty and white privilege. The oilspot strategy targeted the most militant townships for an infusion of coercive power and of funds for upgrading. Out of all South African townships, Alexandra became the primary target and testing ground for the oilspot tactic. The term refers specifically to strategic bases from which the government thought it could regain political and military control of the black urban townships as a whole.

Through a combination of upgrading (planned in three phases and including tarring roads, providing additional water and sanitary points, and expanding the township through the East Bank development) and privatizing housing stock in the township, a conscious effort was made to differentiate and divide the community. As well as upgrading the physical aspects of urban life, the strategy also involved attempts to undermine and weaken mass-based, democratic organizations in the townships through a combination of detention, harassment, smear campaigns, and discrimination.

One of the main reasons that the urban renewal program was not totally successful, apart from its undemocratic and top-down nature, was the problem of overcrowding. Initially, during the first stage, a strategy of dedensification was followed, whereby residents were moved to an adjacent squatter camp (called Genis-ville or Stjwetla) where they remained in 1993, or to spaces within Alex, such as school yards. However, land that had been cleared to make way for the redevelopment was continually reinvaded. Overnight, shacks would be reerected.

The state also pursued an active strategy of trying to get families to move to an area called Orange Farm, a peripheral site-and-service scheme about 40 km south of Johannesburg (see Figure 1). Although resistance in Alex to Orange Farm eventually forced the government to abandon its attempt to move Alex residents there, the struggle over Orange Farm and surrounding areas continued. In 1993, CAJ halted a proposed dormitory town at Rietfontein, adjacent to Orange Farm. However, the TPA had recently purchased additional land bordering Orange Farm. This location denied people fundamental access to the urban labour market, urban facilities, and informal-sector opportunities.

The acute land shortage and overcrowded conditions in Alex had other effects. For example, people settled on a site adjacent to Alexandra within the Sandotn municipality called Kwa Green. Sandton residents were irate about having a squatter settlement in their suburb. Some of the families in Kwa Green, after experiencing repeated attempts at removal and the minimization of basic services, such as water and refuse removal, subsequently moved to Orange Farm. After much pressure was exerted, the rest of the settlement voted to go to a site-and-service scheme called Ivory Park, adjacent to Tembisa (see Figure 1).

The urban-renewal plan for Alexandra was confined to upgrading services and infrastructure. As such, the poor housing conditions of most Alex residents were left unchanged. For most, living conditions continued to be much as they had always been.

The Alexandra Civic Organization

With the gradual relaxation of tensions in 1989 and the release of the treason-trial defendants, after the government’s case collapsed, the ACO had been formed in December 1989 and largely included the old AAC structures.

ACO was a mass-based residents’ organization. It concentrated on community issues, such as housing, services, land, and transport. One of its main campaign slogans was “Affordable Housing for All.” Participation within ACO was uneven. Support for ACO was manifest especially among those with the worst living conditions, particularly in the backyard shack areas, the areas of the council tenants, and some of the shack areas. In some places, it faced resistance from landlords who perceived ACO as siding with the backyard dwellers.

After the ANC and other political parties were legitimized in February 1990, ACO’s political approach became one of engagement with previously hostile forces through negotiations. For example, ACO initiated the AJNF to directly negotiate for a single, nonracial local authority, based on a common tax base, and for physical-development programs for the very poor.

High rents and the black local authority

During the 1980s, in response to various state actions, community organizations targeted the nearest form of the apartheid state, the ACC. The AAC and AYCO launched a rent boycott to protest increases in rent and service charges and the political illegitimacy of the ACC.

The rent boycott proved to be a powerful tool against the ACC. Because the rent and service charges provided the ACC with its only means of generating revenues, the boycott undermined its ability to administer the township. In 1988, the estimated arrears caused by the rent boycott reached close to 3 million ZAR. By 1990, the ACC debt was in the region of 12 million ZAR. Additional debts had mounted to 200 million ZAR. The rent boycott and the ensuing crisis within black local government finally brought the authorities to the negotiating table in 1990. One direct consequence of the rent boycott was the “sidelining” of the ACC councillors and the appointment of an administrator to run Alexandra.

The strategy of engagement: the Alexandra Joint Negotiating Forum

The AJNF sought to include all active players in the single-city process in the northern areas of metropolitan Johannesburg. At first, the government team included the ACC and TPA, with the Central Witwatersrand Regional Services Council, the Development Bank of Southern Africa, Eskom (the electric-utility commission) and the Rand Water Board drawn in as observers. This process was later broadened to include the white-run Sandton town council (STC) and Randburg town council and, to a lesser extent, the town councils of Marlboro and Modderfontein. In addition, several white ratepayers’ associations, as well as the Alexandra Land and Property Owners Association (ALPOA) and the East Bank Residents Association (EBRA), are members of the AJNF.

The AJNF operated by consensus, although the participants had varying levels of support, accountability, finances, and power. For example, the ACC was represented and had a voice and vote equal to those of the ACO and STC. ACO’s demands in the AJNF were as follows:

• The transfer of rented housing to the people;

• Upgrading and conversion of the hostels;

• Upgrading of services and conditions;

• Development of the far East Bank, under community control;

• Additional land near Alexandra for low-cost housing;

• Disestablishment of the BLA and the WLAs and the creation of a democratic, nonracial local authority, based on a common fiscal system;

• Affordable service charges;

• Write-off of arrears; and

• Creation of a CDT–Alexandra People’s Fund.

The Alexandra Accord, a partial turning point in the relationship between the state and the community, was signed in February 1991. The accord allowed for the write-off of 12.4 million ZAR in arrears owed by residents, created an affordable interim rate for service charges, and established an interim electricity tariff, as well as an Alexandra People’s Fund. In exchange, residents in Alexandra agreed to lift the boycott of service charges.

Although not all aspects of the Accord were fully implemented, the AJNF was an ongoing negotiating forum for dealing with the issues. In terms of an agency agreement, the neighbouring town councils of Sandton and Randburg agreed to assist with administrative and technical functions in Alexandra. However, they refused to contribute financially to Alexandra, and the financial crisis of local government in black areas continued, negatively affecting the provision and maintenance of services. The process addressed the issue of the large amount of refuse piled up in the township, as well as those of road repairs, basic township maintenance, and provision of additional water and toilet facilities to the shack areas. However, given the size of the existing Alexandra-council debt, the huge amount of capital-development funds likely to be needed in Alexandra, the neighbouring WLA were unlikely to agree on a single nonracial local-government structure until the central state assumed responsibility for the financial requirements. This in turn was unlikely to be decided until national negotiations had led to an elected constituent assembly and a new South African constitution.

An electrical-agency agreement had led to the partial improvement of services, although 80% of the township remained without electricity. For those who did have electricity, payment levels increased from 20% in September 1991 to 82% by January 1992, in response to the improved service.

The issue of the development of the far East Bank of Alexandra was one of the most critical issues in the community. The IDT had allocated grant financing for the provision of 3 500 serviced sites to Alex residents earning less than 1000 ZAR a month, and the AJNF was managing the development process. In addition to the far East Bank, several other tracts of land were being discussed for low-income housing, such as Modderfontein, Linbro Park, and Frankenwald. The state policy was to only provide subsidies for serviced sites, whereas most residents in Alexandra could not afford to make any contribution to a formal house. With this scheme, some residents would get a small serviced site but very little support for a housing consolidation and community-development program. This could mean that overcrowded conditions in Alexandra would simply be extended to the far East Bank. Another potential problem was that the demand for sites far exceeded supply. The number of people qualifying for 3 500 subsidized sites was likely to be 25 000, and no fair allocation procedure had yet been established.

Actors and their interests

During the 1980s, with the upgrading program, the promise of regaining original properties brought the former property owners and landlords in Alex increasingly into conflict with those residents who had been renting rooms in, or living in the backyards of, the expropriated properties and paying rent to the Alexandra Town Council for many years. ALPOA represented the former land and property owners in Alexandra, who were unjustly deprived of their properties during the 1950s and 1960s by the apartheid government. The new owners, who had regained their properties, were theoretically prevented from removing tenants for a period of 5 years but were nonetheless using other methods to evict the backyard shack dwellers. In some cases, rent increased in the order of 1 000%. In addition, residents in the backyards alleged that the property owners were also blocking access to basic services, such as water and toilets in the yard. Thus, although not evicted as such, many tenants faced the threat of being squeezed off the properties that they had lived on for many years.

Additional land was allocated on the East Bank in 1987, but this was developed for middle-income housing. Only a small minority of residents in Alex could afford the privately developed bond housing on the East Bank. The higher economic profile of East Bank residents was reflected in the composition of EBRA, which was often more middle class in outlook than other groups in Alexandra.

However, even the residents on the East Bank ran into difficulties. Many new home owners who were initially able to raise enough money to enter the private housing market on the East Bank could not repay their bonds because of the economic recession and high interest rates and also faced eviction.

EBRA, together with neighbouring white ratepayers’ associations, objected to the provision of a low-income site and service area on the East Bank. ACO was unhappy about a far East Bank site and service scheme because it failed to include a housing-consolidation and community-development program as a central component. The Alexandra Builders’ Association (ABA) also opposed site and service, as this would reduce the possibility of obtaining land to build more conventional houses. The ABA was a strong advocate of small black-business development and was often at odds with the large, mainly white-owned building and construction companies.

Tensions between the shack communities and the township dwellers took place in a climate of scarce resources, particularly housing. With less security of tenure and greater vulnerability, shack dwellers were often suspicious of the intentions of township-based organizations. Similarly, township residents were suspicious of the intentions of the often mobile and more impoverished shack dwellers. This was especially true with regard to their sharing of certain basic amenities, such as toilets and taps.

The Maputo shack settlement in Alexandra had a large Mozambican population. Most were refugees, either escaping the war or the poverty that the war caused in Mozambique. To a large degree, many came to Alexandra because a number of factories in the area hired illegals, as a practice of ethnic-specific hiring or as a way to undercut the wages of South Africans. This caused tensions. These people were also subject to intense police harassment. The community had Mozambicans who supported Frelimo or Renamo, as well as those who felt allegiance to neither side. All appeared to live together with minimal tensions.

The TPA took an active interest in legitimizing its mode of interaction with the community in the administration of Alexandra. In part, this was to ensure the payment of service charges and therefore limit the amount of financial contributions the TPA had to make in maintaining and running the township. Both Rand-burg and Sandton had a tremendous resource base from which to draw. For example, the estimated 1992/93 budget for Sandton alone was 298 million ZAR and less than 50 million ZAR for Alexandra. In many ways, these areas had the most to lose by Alexandra’s being incorporated into a single-administered, nonracial, democratic urban area. Their major interest, promoted even more vigorously by the various well-organized white ratepayers’ associations, seemed to be to find a way for Alexandra to be incorporated and upgraded, but without this lowering the services in Sandton or Randburg or increasing rates dramatically.

Violence escalated in Alex when one of the hostels was taken over by armed supporters of the Inkatha Freedom Party, in March 1991. After this, periodic clashes took place between community residents and hostel dwellers, resulting in many deaths. ACO and other community organizations felt that the South African security forces were aiding the hostel dwellers.

Much of the violence assumed an Inkatha-versus-ANC profile, but deeper socioeconomic reasons explained some of the conflict. For example, most hostel dwellers were migrant labourers, with roots in the rural areas, who were for many years only allowed partial access to the cities (under the apartheid system, they were required to return to the rural areas once a year). Their potential to earn income from the urban economy depended on regaining access to their job and the hostel bed that went with their job each year. Hostel dwellers were thus threatened by the call to convert the hostels to family quarters (many of them did not wish to bring their families into the urban areas); they perceived this as denying them access to the city.

Township residents in Alex, on the other hand, remembered that for many years their township was faced with forced removal (and many properties were in fact demolished) to convert the whole of Alex into a single-sex hostel city, the ultimate apartheid creation, whereby no black person would have had the right of permanent access to the city. Although this scheme failed, many residents opposed the three hostels in Alex, after they were built, and in fact called for their demolition.

By playing on these insecurities of hostel dwellers and because many hostel dwellers came from rural Natal (an Inkatha stronghold), Inkatha managed to gain a political foothold in hostels on the Witwatersrand. Any attempts to break the cycle of violence therefore had to address the right of access to the urban areas of both migrant workers living in hostels and the township residents.


Although Alexandra had been a centre for political action in the 1940s and 1950s, the repressive policies and practices of the 1960s and 1970s had all but obliterated this tradition. In this period, the community often survived through sheer force of will and governmental incompetence, rather than through any organized resistance.

The struggle against the upgrading, forced removals, and high rents allowed the AAC, and later the ACO, to mobilize the community into a political struggle against the BLA and the South African state. Only with the changing political climate in South Africa did strategies of resistance broaden to include negotiations with the authorities, with a view to improving the general conditions and development, as well as transforming institutions, such as local authorities, that had control over land-use planning and residential development.

The more open political conditions made organizing with the community easier, but the changing social conditions produced new challenges for groups like the ACO. For example, the Alex community, which was once united against an external apartheid enemy, began to face many internal divisions resulting from the social differences outlined above. The challenge for the civic movement would be to construct an urban policy that allowed equal access to urban opportunity and that overcame the increasing urban fragmentation.

Phola Park7


Phola Park (Figure 5) was an informal settlement on the East Rand, with a population estimated at between 17 000 and 30 000. It was adjacent to the black township of Tokoza and the coloured community of Eden Park. The subregion comprised the white towns of Alberton, Boksburg, and Germiston; the industrial areas of Alrode and Wadeville; and the townships reserved for the settlement of the black people, including Kathlehong, Tokoza, and Voslorous (these townships were initially established to house the black working people of Germiston, Alberton, and Boksburg, respectively).

The Phola Park community had been the target of numerous attempts at removal, first at Tokoza and then at the Phola Park site. The people struggled for access to resources, especially land and secure tenure. The Phola Park residents tenaciously refused to move.

7 This research was based on interviews with Julian Baskin, Planact project coordinator in Phola Park, and with the late Prince Mhlambi, president of the Phola Park Residents’ Committee.


Figure 5. Phola Park. Note: CBD, commercial-building district. Source: Planact (1992).

Phola Park was the site of repeated physical attacks and became a flash point of violence on the East Rand. Its residents experienced or witnessed death, personal injury, and loss of possessions.

The complex dynamics and processes in this study are controversial and open to different interpretations. This case study illustrates the struggle of a poor, marginalized, and structurally insecure community for access to the city.

Repeated evictions and demolitions

In 1987, about 150 families were living in a coal yard in Tokoza. Rent was paid to the coal-yard owner, who subsequently sold the land to a developer. The families were then informed by the Tokoza Town Council (TTC) that they had to move, and their shacks were demolished.

Some families were without any structures to live in for 2 weeks in June, a winter month. The Red Cross, Witwatersrand Council of Churches, and the Roman Catholic Church donated blankets and tents to the people who were homeless as a result of the removal. Most of the coal-yard residents were able to find transport to move their household belongings and settled close to the water towers in Tokoza. This was their second location.

Vacant land was found behind two hostels in the township. The first residents of the site behind the hostels initially named their settlement Dunusa, which means “bare backside.” This was an allusion to the complete absence of services, including toilets. Between June and November 1987, the TTC erected tents for families to live on that site. However, with time, shacks were erected, and this area became known as Phola Park.

Families who were living at the water-tower site were told that they were to move to Phola Park by November of that year. People agreed to the move on the understanding that it was sanctioned by the TTC. Furthermore, they were led to believe that Phola Park would be developed with water, sewerage, and an adequate refuse-removal system.

In the course of 1988, Phola Park grew into one of the largest informal settlements on the PWV (now Gauteng). Some residents who moved into the settlement came from backyard shacks in the overcrowded townships in the subregion (mainly Tokoza, Voslorous, and Kathlehong). Some were circular migrants from rural South Africa, and others were foreign migrants, mainly from Mozambique. However, the majority of the Phola Park residents had been long-time urban dwellers. Later, Phola Park became a catchment area for people who were moving to other townships or squatter camps in the region. Presently the population of Phola Park was unstable and had a high turnover of people.

Until May 1989, Phola Park lacked the basic services of water and lavatories. By 1993, no essential community facilities were in place, such as health clinics or schools. These were available in Tokoza. The local hospital in Kathlehong was fairly close to Phola Park. The residents initially drew water from the adjacent hostels and Tokoza.

Some individuals constructed toilets, but no sewerage or sanitation existed. There was no refuse removal; residents piled and burned the garbage. The one serviced road was impassable when it rained. Subsequently, one water point with seven taps was installed at a ratio of one tap per 3 200 residents. There was no electricity.

The legal status of Phola Park was still not clearly defined by 1993. Under the law at that time, officially sanctioned informal settlements were declared “transit camps,” in terms of PISA — there was no other law governing informal settlements outside the black townships. The TTC initially accorded legal status to Phola Park under PISA (which also gave them administrative control of the area) but would later use portions of the same Act to try to remove the residents. The TTC gave indications to residents of their permanence by registering them, numbering their shacks, and issuing permits for specific stands within the camp. Although TTC had promised services, it did little to improve conditions.

In the interim, the people in the camp were subjected to harassment and attempts at forcible removal. In the process, a distrustful relationship with the South African Police developed. Police patrols inside the camp led to violence and insecurity. Unity was forged around this insecurity and the need for defence, and a sense of community began to emerge. The people in the area elected the Phola Park Residents’ Committee (PPRC) in 1988 to articulate their needs. This sense of community was initially borne out of threat and insecurity in the face of repeated demolitions and attempts at forced removal; and then out of months of violent attack. The residents formed the defence committee (a subcommittee of PPRC) to ensure protection from, and resistance to, outside attack.

In the lead-up period to the TTC elections in 1988, squatter issues were politicized. Two councillors were in fact elected to the council on the basis of their campaign promises to the Phola Park residents. They undertook to put pressure on the council to provide services for the residents. However, after the elections, nothing was ever done.

Responding to a national call, the Tokoza Civic Association organized a rent boycott in Tokoza in May 1989. The boycott coincided with the Mass Democratic Movement’s (a national coalition of trade unions, civics, and the ANC) strategy to apply pressure on the BLAs for a nonracial, democratic local-government structure. The rent and service-charge boycotts in Tokoza were directly linked to the development of Phola Park. Without services, the residents of Phola Park were using Tokoza facilities, such as water points. Services in Tokoza were inadequate for its own residents, let alone for use by an additional community. The Tokoza civic clearly articulated its own interest in the upgrading of Phola Park. The Phola Park community’s struggle for resources was further reflected in its use of hostel facilities. Significantly, no conflict occurred over this. Initially, at least, the two communities lived in harmony.

It was the responsibility of the BLA to collect the rent from the residents and, in turn, to pay the TPA for electricity and water. Because of the lack of income from the unpaid rents in Tokoza, the council went increasingly into debt to the TPA. The council funds began to dry up, and the TTC began to look to Phola Park as a potential source of income. In June 1989, the TTC issued an announcement to the Phola Park residents that a payment of 50 ZAR a month for each shack was required for people to remain in the area.

The residents objected to the demand because they had an inadequate water supply, no refuse removal, and only 28 chemical toilets, which were not adequately cleaned. Furthermore, most of the residents could not afford the fee of 50 ZAR. One of the perceived advantages of living in Phola Park was that it was cheap. Indeed, it cost nothing to live there.

This refusal to pay represented a more localized response than the wide-spread rent and service-charge boycotts mentioned earlier: the demands associated with those boycotts were articulated as a call for the resignation of the illegitimate BLAs. Following the demand for rent and the community’s refusal to pay, the PPRC consulted with lawyers on the community’s behalf. The lawyers negotiated with TTC to determine a reasonable and mutually acceptable amount for rent and the provision of consistent services. However, the negotiations between the legal representatives and the TTC resulted in a stalemate.

The financial crisis of the TTC deepened. It found another option for raising revenues from the land. The Phola Park site was zoned industrial, and the council served notice that it wanted the residents moved so that the land could be developed for industry. However, it never developed a feasible industrial strategy for the area.

The TPA proposed to make land available for the Phola Park residents about 12 km away, in Zonkizizwe. The TPA gave the site its name, which means “people from all places.” Some residents received notice from the TTC that they would have to move to the new site by January 1990. In December, TTC and South African Police began moving people and demolishing shacks. The TTC was now using different provisions in PISA to forcibly remove squatters. Demolitions continued in January, with the help of hired contractors.

Once again, the PPRC engaged the support of legal advisors. In early January 1990, after a series of forced removals of some of the Phola Park community, the residents were successful in obtaining a Supreme Court ruling preventing the council from destroying shacks or property. The application, on behalf of one individual in the community under threat of removal, was made under a PISA provision that allowed for demolitions only if shacks were erected without the consent of the landowner. The basis of the favourable ruling lay in the fact that the council had sent residents there in the first place. The council accepted that this concession bound them in respect to the other shacks. It was unable to remove the original residents but attempted to prevent their building any new shacks in the area and demolished those that arose. It also refused to negotiate the longer term issue.

However, in February, the TTC engaged its own lawyers, who used yet another provision of PISA to convince the magistrate to remove every registered household (2421 in total) and demolish their homes. This section of the Act provided an administrative procedure that the TTC used to apply for the authority to remove the community and demolish the shacks. Their application included arguments based on the uncontrolled growth of the settlement, health risks, and the availability of alternative accommodation at Zonkizizwe.

The Phola Park residents argued that the council had told them to move to Phola Park in the first place, that services could be provided more easily in Phola Park than in Zonkizizwe, and that the council’s financial crisis was not the responsibility of people from Phola Park. The TTC’s application was opposed and abandoned. Court action was finally suspended in March, and this opened up an opportunity for negotiations. However, the TTC councillors failed to turn up.

In May 1990, the residents of Phola Park declared a unilateral declaration of independence in the area. They resolved to keep the land and make it their permanent settlement. The PPRC was willing to negotiate with the new administrator, but the TTC’s response was to cut off the few services that were being provided — no water, no refuse removal, and no toilets.

Phola Park continued to grow; people from Phola Park were removed to Zonkizizwe, but the new influx swelled the numbers of the settlement. The crisis deepened until things came to a head in August 1990. Throughout this period, violent confrontations took place between the residents and the authority. Shacks were torn down and rebuilt in the space of a day. Cars and trucks were stoned, and people were injured and killed.

Violence in Phola Park

Having achieved a measure of security in terms of tenure, the Phola Park community then faced a prolonged period of intense violence, attack, and counterattack. It was difficult to talk of organizational strategy for access to the city under these conditions. The strategies that did emerge were designed purely for defence of the right to exist. Residents were organized by the defence committee into zones for patrolling each night, when the attacks were usually launched. The attacks were especially heavy in August, September, and December of 1990. In 1993, many questions were still unanswered about the exact motives.

In August 1990, a simmering conflict between the Phola Park residents and people in the adjacent hostel in Tokoza exploded into violence and open warfare. Hostel residents launched an attack on Phola Park, and the defence committee in Phola Park destroyed the two hostels on their doorstep. Many people fled, seeking refuge in churches, backyard shacks in Tokoza, and surrounding townships. The hostels were reduced to rubble, and the hostel dwellers fled to hostels in Tokoza and Zonkizizwe. Residents’ affidavits at the time pointed to the involvement of sinister forces, including white men in balaclavas leading the attacks.

In September 1990, Phola Park was subjected to extremely heavy and coordinated attacks, and hundreds of shacks were destroyed. More than 150 people were killed in the space of 3 or 4 days. Violence continued sporadically throughout the last months of 1990. Similar outbreaks occurred across the East Rand in this period, but not on an ongoing or sustained basis, as in Phola Park.

In December, the residents of Phola Park attacked hostels in Tokoza, killing 17 people. Late that morning a counterattack by Inkatha led to the death of an additional 22 people. That night, the South African Defence Force occupied Phola Park and surrounded it with razor wire. Entrance gates were staffed by the 32nd Battalion, an army unit that had been deployed in Angola. In April 1992, the residents of Phola Park alleged that this battalion had attacked, assaulted, and raped members of the community. A Commission of Inquiry was established to investigate these attacks, and evidence was heard at a national commission on public violence.

Securing development resources

Violent clashes continued in Phola Park throughout the course of 1991. This level of violence and death finally forced the hand of the authorities. The community was determined to stay in the area, and it was impossible to move these people against their will. The PPRC began work with its technical advisors on a development plan, and soon the TPA approached the community. Discussions between the PPRC, together with its advisors, and the TPA finally opened the possibility for a longer term resolution to the problems of Phola Park.

In May 1991, the PPRC made an application to the IDT, with the aim of capturing some resources through a capital-subsidy scheme. The IDT approved the application and agreed in principle to provide a subsidy of 7 500 ZAR for some 2 000 plots. On this basis, a detailed layout plan and implementation strategy were developed. It became clear that it would be difficult to proceed if some people benefited but others did not. The community decided to share the stand subsidy among the entire community to avoid conflict, and the IDT agreed, although it was contrary to the terms under which IDT subsidies were given. It was ironic that Phola Park was given such resources to establish a permanent town, after such a bitter struggle with the state. Central to the proposal submitted by the residents was the request for community institutions to empower them not only to participate, but also to control the development. To this end, a CDT was set up to oversee the process and a communities-development committee was formed to do the daily work. Although hostel dwellers still objected to the hostel land being settled, they agreed to it in exchange for the upgrading of Tokoza hostels. By Christmas, the first emergency services were installed in the settlement.

When resources for the development of Phola Park had been secured, violent conflict broke out again. The PPRC, the defence committee in particular, opened up a new site for its struggle. In March, the defence committee was ousted, and soon the members of the PPRC had to flee the area. The complex dynamics operating in informal communities are poorly understood. These communities were marginalized, materially insecure, had high levels of violence, and were literally struggling to survive. Combining the opinions of the president of the PPRC, who was ousted from the community during the conflict, together with the retrospective sense that development workers tried to make of the circumstances there, one gets a picture of a complex interaction of diverse external and internal forces. Whatever the explanation, the community organization was crushed at the point when development became possible. Prince Mhlambi, the president of the residents’ committee, was one of the many victims of the violent conflict. He was killed in October.

The Phola Park Residents’ Committee

The PPRC, democratically elected annually, was mandated to establish ad hoc area committees to deal with sectional problems and resolve disputes through mediation and intervention. This organization seemed to be representative of the whole Phola Park community. It became apparent that this was not the case when resources for development were secured. The PPRC had to deal with the real issues of survival under severely constrained material conditions, complicated by exceptionally high levels of violence. This made the PPRC an introverted but coherent and united community. Consequently, its negotiations for the development financing were premised on this expression of unity.

Sectors of the community had always been organized in different formations that were less obvious but extremely powerful. Most people in Phola Park (the survey suggested about 75%) came from backyard shacks in Tokoza. Some had been long-time urban dwellers pushed out by overcrowded conditions. Others had an interest in urbanizing and had made a commitment to permanent urban living in the region. They had interests in upgrading the settlement and were committed to the development process. Significantly, these people participated in the PPRC. However, the very informality of Phola Park also allowed it to serve as a catchment area and, indeed, a convenient place to live for people with different urban intentions.

Many single men were living in Phola Park; they had bases in rural areas, the Transkei in particular. Four or so single men would share a shack. Frequent return trips would be made to the area of origin. These migrants from the Transkei and other places in rural South Africa were organized in traditional networks, with links to the home place. The elders that headed these formations were not represented on the PPRC, and it was only under threat that they emerged. These people were in the urban area to secure a place to live as cheaply as possible while employed there. The prospect of upgrading the area presented a threat to them, as they risked having to delve into their scarce resources for remittances to pay for a more expensive urban environment. The extent to which they were committed to formalization and to its costs was questionable.

Phola Park also provided a relatively safe place for foreign migrants, who could hide as illegals within the system. Malawians, Mozambicans, and Zimbabweans, in particular, settled in Phola Park, where they could find opportunities for participation in the informal economy and seek refuge from war, drought, and destabilization in their home countries. However, the prospect of development brought with it the threat of their having to come out of hiding. Development would not only mean exposure, but the need to seek a registered title. The failure to qualify would squeeze them out.

Numerous forces complicated the easy relationship within the community. In line with the position adopted by the PPRC, the defence committee was non-party political. Throughout the course of violent attack on Phola Park the defence committee developed into one of the strongest defence units in the country. The committee’s approach, uniting a community around the struggle for development in a nonpartisan way, had been successful, and its high level of organization was commonly acknowledged. It was precisely this separateness and nonpartisan stance that created conflict later. Conditions in South Africa, a country in transition, made this nonpartisan stance problematic in some quarters.

Although the PPRC was unopposed until this time, as it provided representation for those who wanted it, the previous coherence and unity began to crumble as various forces came into conflict. This conflict was less about resources per se than it was about the implications of their use for development. The people of the Phola Park community were united in protecting their access to the city and in defending the community against attack. However, when resources for the development of the settlement were introduced, this sense of common interest became blurred. This eventually undermined the development process itself.

Other actors and their interests

The events in Phola Park were increasingly embarrassing to a reform government. Phola Park had a high media profile, both internationally and nationally. The government’s credibility and commitment to change were undermined by the demolition of a poor community’s shelter, by the squalid living conditions there, and by the alleged complicity of the government in the violence. Phola Park was a far cry from the Benoni option.

The reluctance of the TTC to negotiate the longer term issues was evident in its tactics of delay and obstruction. Some councillors had bought votes in elections and had not delivered on their promises, and the authority had not serviced or developed the site in any way.

The point to which the TPA was committed to development in Phola Park remained uncertain, as did the extent to which it was negotiating in good faith. In 1993, the idea of community-controlled development had been shelved, and those advocating a top-down approach seemed to have the upper hand.


Communities that are marginalized, racked by violence, and poverty stricken are struggling for their survival. The actions of the community organization in Phola Park were less strategic and tactical than the methods employed by civics in other environments, such as Wattville and Alexandra. In comparison with the other community organizations researched, the introspective nature of struggle and organization in Phola Park was especially evident. But like the other community organizations, the PPRC responded to its particular conditions — in this case, appalling living conditions, unemployment, and threats of removal and violence. Accordingly, responses were not necessarily coherent, planned, or organized struggles for development; rather, they were attempts to gain access to the city from a starting point of acute need and survival.

The highly organized structures that developed were mobilized to defend the community against attack. Other case studies showed a general change in strategic direction, informed by changed conditions, from resistance-defence to development-engagement-reconstruction. In Phola Park, violence again erupted precisely when the opportunity for development arose.


Continuing struggles against evictions

The case studies provide a detailed account of how communities in four different settlements struggled for access to the city. They show that in 1993, struggles against evictions continued, although the form of the evictions had undergone a change. With the repeal of the GAA, evictions no longer occurred in the name of apartheid “illegality.” Instead, material economic factors, as opposed to race, were increasingly the basis for exclusion: market forces began to threaten the security of low-income groups in the city.

Tenants in the inner city continued to struggle against evictions. In the Seven Buildings, the security of tenants rested on the outcome of the scheme that proposed tenant ownership and control. In the event of its failure, the tenants would be evicted. The sale of existing housing stock threatened many households in both backyard shacks (in Alexandra) and outbuildings (in Alexandra and Watt-ville), as well as within overcrowded formal dwellings (in both Alexandra and Wattville). The transfer of housing to the original owners was altering social relations within townships. For example, in Wattville, many of the Tamboville 1 residents were facing affordability problems as households that once shared resources were split up in the dedensification process. The change in relations was the flip side of the process of upgrading and development. This had generalizable consequences for the urban poor, particularly in the absence of state assistance. Subletting in Tamboville 1 was adopted by many residents as a way to survive. Many new home owners in private housing developments faced difficulties repaying their bonds, for example on the East Bank of Alexandra. The prospect of upgrading and formalization of informal settlements like Phola Park posed threats to migrants and illegals, who had their respective interests in living as cheaply as possible and remaining hidden in the urban area. The Mozambicans in Alexandra and the foreign migrants in the inner city were similar examples.

In short, affordability emerged as an increasingly important focus of struggle. Before February 1990, poor communities adopted strategies of protest and resistance to apartheid. The struggle for access to the city was clearly articulated in the face of apartheid legislation and its accompanying policy of coercively marginalizing black people and denying them access to the city. Community organizations had to reorient their strategic responses. The advent of a new South Africa did not have a very favourable impact on the material conditions of the majority of South Africans.

A summary of strategies, tactics, and methods

An overall vision of some of the strategies used by poor communities in the Wit-watersrand region of South Africa emerge from the case studies.

The studies show the many ways people struggle for access to the city. A shift from resistance-protest-defence to development-reconstruction-engagement was observed. Community organizations modified their strategies to take account of changing conditions. However, as the cases showed, the line between the two strategic directions was blurred. For instance, people in the inner city continued to resist market-related evictions, although new opportunities for development had opened up, such as in the Seven Buildings Project. Resistance–protest–defence strategies were essentially struggles against attempts made through legal, institutional, market, or social means to deny or block access. Struggles against eviction fell into this category. Development-reconstruction-engagement strategies were struggles for access to overcome decades of exclusion, in general (for instance, from housing or urban opportunities), and evictions, in particular. The prerequisite for the emergence of these strategies was community mobilization through representative organizations, that is, the WCRC in Wattville, the ACO in Alexandra, ACTSTOP in the inner city, and the PPRC in Phola Park.

The conditions under which a sense of community emerged were different across the case studies. The communities studied seemed to mobilize on the basis of a common desire for development and to unify on the basis of shared circumstances. For example, the community in Wattville articulated demands stemming from overcrowding and the desire for more land. In Phola Park, insecurity, violence, and the threat of demolition unified a community with different interests in the urban system. Although the Seven Buildings were geographically dispersed, the desire for secure tenure and decent living conditions, as well as resistance to landlords, mobilized the tenants. The strategies included the following:

Rent and service-charge boycotts — In all the cases, strategies involved one or another form of nonpayment, as a protest against local authorities or landlords.

Land invasion — In Wattville, land invasion was the most prominent strategy for securing access. In some other environments, invasions in a broader sense were also featured; for example, people invaded inner-city suburbs.

Negotiations — In all cases, strategies involved some form of negotiations with the authorities. These were conducted in relatively sophisticated forums, like the GBF and joint negotiating forums in Wattville and Alexandra; in the more ad hoc negotiations with landlords, councils, and financial institutions in the inner city; and in discussions held with the TPA in Phola Park, which were not strategic at all but desperate attempts to create some security.

Use of financial, legal, and technical resources, skills, and expertise — Technical expertise and skills in the realms of planning, organizational development, and law were engaged, with varying degrees of intensity, in all cases. Financial resources for development were secured from the IDT in Alexandra, Phola Park, and Wattville. Other avenues were pursued in Wattville and the inner city.

Establishment of appropriate civic structures — Structures, such as defence committees, were needed to deal with specific issues. Civics set up structures like housing, development, technical, or land committees to deal with particular components of their access struggle. Civics, in all cases, also had organizational structures for the two-way flow of information between residents and various committees.

Informal strategies for survival — Often, the community survived through sheer force of will and the determination not to move, rather than a conscious strategy of protest. Frequently, survival mechanisms were developed at the level of the household, like the extended family network in Wattville. Informal income-generating networks were evident in Phola Park and the inner city.

The results of these strategies in securing access to the city were mixed. Much of this related to the broader structural forces in operation at the macrolevel. However, generalizable lessons can be learned from these cases about strategies for gaining access to the city. On the basis of the cases studies, one can draw the following preliminary conclusions.

Barriers to access

Old planning approaches: inadequate tools for development

In Alexandra, the development of the far East Bank was floundering as the technical experts debated the best means of delivery. Significantly, the old planning consultants, the very people who formulated the proposals for the renewal plans, continued to produce proposals for the new development. Can a conventional, apartheid planning style be channeled into planning that involves communities and challenges old orthodoxies?

Practitioners in the field of development are frequently guilty of assuming a homogeneity in low-income communities that bears little resemblance to reality and completely ignores diversity. With development, the nature of social relations are changed, conflicting interest groups emerge, and alliances are reshaped. For example, circular and foreign migrants in the inner city and Phola Park clearly had very different access needs. Although the majority of urban dwellers, it may be true, have a permanent commitment to the city, some segments of the poor community have other interests in the city. Given severely constrained material conditions and limited options, their access may be informal, unregulated, as cheap as possible, and frequently clandestine.

A comparison of the case studies revealed that fundamentally different dynamics were at work, particularly in townships and informal settlements. This suggested that it would be a fallacy to throw the community label at essentially heterogeneous entities. The Phola Park case showed how traditional planning approaches failed to include mechanisms for conflict resolution. Without these, the onus was on a poor and marginalized community to develop its own mechanisms. Although it is conventional wisdom to talk of community involvement, empowerment, and control, few mechanisms existed in the established planning methodology to adequately sustain these.

Domination of vested interests over needs: demystifying the implications of informal settlements

Many founded and unfounded theories attempt to explain the effects of informal settlements on house prices and suburban life. Upper- and middle-income suburban residents claim that crime will increase, as people in informal settlements are invariably unemployed, and that hazardous health conditions will spillover into their neighbourhoods. Although many of these views are unfounded, they can be enough to cause panic in the housing market. In 1993, unfounded theories and panic in the market continued, property prices fell, and white resistance to low-income settlement mounted. Politics played a crucial role in deciding the fate of the homeless, powerless, and marginalized communities of the Witwatersrand region.

Resistance from middle-class whites was evident in the Tamboville experience. The development of the far East Bank in Alexandra for low-income people met resistance from middle-class interests on the East Bank and in surrounding white suburbs. What are the implications of mixed residential-land use zoning for property values, bearing in mind that property values constrain access to the city for the poor and politically powerless?

Conflict over development resources

The communities studied were able to mobilize and unify on the basis of the common experience of resistance, threat of removal or eviction, or defence against outside attack. With the introduction of development resources, the danger was that this coherence might crumble, either at the organizational or broader community level. The absence of conflict-resolution mechanisms under these conditions posed threats to access and to the development process.

Organizational capacity and leadership experience: from defence to development?

Engagement in negotiations with the establishment, in many of the cases, revealed the undercapacity of civics’ staffing, training, skills, and resources. These factors severely undermined both civic involvement in the process of restructuring and community control of development. The strategic shift from defence and resistance to development was clearly difficult; previous points have highlighted conflict over development resources and varying development interests. Organizational strength built on a history of resistance, such as in ACTSTOP, does not necessarily translate into a capacity to deal with development issues. In particular, organizational experience built for defending a community against outside attack, in Phola Park, could not necessarily be channeled into development.

The cases showed that there were considerable differences in the capacities of the civics to engage and deliver. Resources and the organizational experience of the leadership were two crucial factors differentiating stronger from weaker civics. For example, the ACO’s high-profile leadership (with links to the national political struggle), the WCRC’s union experience, and United Democratic Front’s organizational experience contrasted markedly with the leadership and experience of the PPRC. In the latter case, not only did people have little union experience but in many instances they lacked even work experience, as a result of the high levels of unemployment.

Violence and development

High levels of violence in Phola Park and Alexandra severely undermined the development process, suggesting that a precondition for development is peace. What are the implications of pervasive violence for vulnerable and marginalized communities?

Weak institutions

The cases showed that there were institutional failures of local authorities and public and private delivery agencies. Successful development programs were extremely difficult to develop in a transitional environment, with interim institutional arrangements and a lack of coherent policy and coordinated approaches among development institutions and agencies.

Apartheid urban geography: the legacy lives on

In Wattville successive invasions occurred on land adjacent to the township. The Phola Park site was adjacent to Tokoza. Accessing this land and maintaining a tenuous hold on it entailed high levels of community organization and endurance. Yet, the legacy of the apartheid spatial form lived on; no centrally located land had been allocated in 1993 that fundamentally challenged apartheid urban geography. No communities had yet invaded such well-located land. Could a new metropolitan framework plan have responded to the needs of the cities’ poor? Well-located mining land was underutilized, other central land parcels lay vacant, and communities worse off than both Phola Park and Wattville (in spatial terms) continued the struggle for survival in peripherally located settlements.

Furthermore, apartheid created an economic and social reality that became well entrenched. Notwithstanding political change in South Africa, by 1993 the people’s material conditions continued to circumscribe their locational and other choices.

This page intentionally left blank

Chapter 5

Hyung-Hook Kim

Urban Poor Research Institute, Seoul, South Korea


The purpose of this study was to examine how the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s (SMG’s) policy of redeveloping urban-poor areas since the late 1950s has affected the welfare of the poor.1 South Korea’s policy regarding these urban-poor areas was criticized for placing too much emphasis on the beautification of the city and not enough emphasis on the well-being of the poor residents of these areas.

This study is divided into four parts. The first part discusses historical trends of the eviction-centred-redevelopment policies of the 1950s and 1960–70s relevant to the joint-redevelopment policy of the 1980s. The second part — the case of Sang Kye Dong — analyzes the socioeconomic malfunction of the eviction policy adopted in the joint-redevelopment plan. The third part describes the rise and fall of the poor people’s movement in response to the evictions; the right to housing is also discussed. The final section presents the conclusions.

This research was conducted using two methods: a literature survey; and an intensive verbal, qualitative case study, compiled through directed interviews. The literature survey provided general macrolevel facts regarding urban redevelopment and evictions. The case study focused on individual experiences of evictions at the microlevel.

1 Urban-poor areas refers to residential areas (frequently running up mountainsides or along sewage canals) where the urban poor are concentrated. The main problem is overcrowding — both in terms of houses and in terms of people. The ratio of housing to roads, paths, or open spaces is excessive, and the population density also verges on the extreme. All areas have electricity and city water; most have sewage systems. Thus, to use slums to refer to these areas would be misleading. Substandard housing is a very ambiguous term. The houses are too small and old and somewhat poorly constructed, but they will likely remain standing for 10 or 20 years.

The recent history of redevelopment policy

Increased urbanization in South Korea in the last half century, especially after the 1960s, caused not only an unemployment problem but also a serious housing shortage. In Seoul, the poorer groups collectively occupied vacant lands and illegally built houses, eventually forming squatter settlements in every corner of the city. The government carried out evictions and consolidated the district, using brute force; administration was also backed up by powerful governmental support. From the 1950s through to the end of the 1970s, this powerful policy was expressed in several ways.


The eviction policy in the 1950s was a “nonprovision and forceful eviction plan.” Later, the SMG created a resettlement project, developing the suburban regions. The Miari resettlement project was launched for the first time in 1958.2 In the meantime, politics had affected the eviction policy — before the national election, the urban-redevelopment project was temporarily suspended, which brought about “the interim procrastination of the shelters’ eviction” in August 1956. This plan was directed by the president himself, as evident from the fact that the eviction policy was promoted right after the election. “The interim procrastination of the shelters’ eviction” could be considered a makeshift political device.


The housing problem of the urban poor intensified as the housing shortage in the Seoul area jumped from below 40% in 1960 to more than 50% in 1966.

Because the political ideology of the government was to put national economic growth first, basic urban facilities, including housing, water supply, and a sewage system, received the least funding. The poorer groups were obliged to solve their housing problems by themselves. Their squatter houses were located near the downtown area, close to their workplaces (Figure 1). The eviction-centred . policy of the SMG continued. The SMG looked on the residents of squatter settlements as criminals trespassing on government land and constructing illegal houses. This caused an asymmetrical antagonism between the government and the squatters. As a result, the “nonprovision eviction policy” of the 1950s and the subsequent “coercive relocation,” enforced by bulldozers, continued.

2 By 1972, more than 300 000 people from 64 140 households and 48 718 compartments had moved to 98 new areas in the suburbs. The total area was 930 000 pyong (1 pyong = 3.3 m2).


Figure 1. Squatter areas: high-density surface and residential expansion, 1972. Source: Lee (1977).

During the 1960s, while the relocation project of the SMG was under way, it was regarded as a plan for the temporary accommodation of those evicted. Eviction was emphasized, but resettlement was overlooked. Because the evicted had no incentives to settle down permanently, most sold the land distributed to them and moved back to the midtown area of Seoul.

In the 1970s, the SMG, faced with the shortage of vacant land in the inner city, built a large-scale settlement town, Kwangju complex, in Kwangju county, Kyong Ki province, 25 km from downtown Seoul. But the area was just a vast tract of land without opportunities for employment, education, or commerce. This was the motive for the large-scale demonstration of the residents on 10 August 1971, known as the “people’s collective protest for the right to the city,” which showed potential for developing into an urban social movement that would challenge the government’s legitimacy.3 In response, the government started to design new ways to take full advantage of the existing housing facilities and the idle labour force. The plan was to mobilize the participation of the residents and, at the same time, to discern any signs of community movements before they got out of hand. In this context, during the 1970s, the housing-redevelopment policy reached a new phase, legitimizing squatter dwellings or reforming them into normal residencies. This policy was legitimized in 1973, when the Interim Housing Improvement Act was passed.

Under the new Act, change of land use in redevelopment areas was permitted. This enabled illegal buildings to become legitimate and the unlicenced plot of land to be approved with preemptive rights. Also, by selling the unlicenced shacks to the squatter dwellers, the SMG sought to reduce the financial burdens of providing the urban infrastructure. By transferring state property to private ownership, “efficient” land use was made possible. The policy also provided ideological legitimation externally, with the catchphrase “improvement of housing conditions by self-help,” in the face of opposing community movements. But this was only a strategy to change the status of the squatter settlements by enacting an improvement policy that legitimized illegal housing.

In the meantime, realizing that “eviction without provisions” would bring about antieviction struggles, the SMG devised a plan to compensate the evicted just enough to avoid community movements. So in the 1970s, the eviction policy included a variety of policy instruments such as financial aid for the evicted, rights to purchase municipally managed apartments, and a collective resettlement policy, as detailed below (see also Table 1):

Policy of collective resettlement in the suburban areas — This was a policy promoting housing districts in undeveloped areas and the construction of tenement houses in allocated areas. Squatters, mostly living within 2 km of Seoul city hall, were collectively moved to outer parts of the city, yet to be urbanized, about 10-14 km from city hall (Lee 1977; Kim 1989). But, as with the collective-relocation policy of the 1960s, most of the residents moved back into the central parts of the city after selling their rights to the newly built residences.

3 Korean politics had been dominated by a “development dictatorship” led by the military since 1962. Long and bloody civil action, led primarily by college students, succeeded at last in setting up a democratic regime in February 1988.

Table 1. Annual situation of the eviction program.



Formation of



Right to

Municipally managed









Number of


13 556

13 556 a

178 998


7 041

7 041

168 307


6 554

2 033

4 521

163 543


4 936

1 486

2 097



155 467


5 964


3 591



149 503


20 039


7 194


8 688

4 139

135 326


18 828

8 864


6 352

3 612

115 634



6 694






12 992

5 648


3 607

3 737

87 723


3 618

3 095


2 539


157 068


3 021

2 971




154 047


1 790

1 790 b



152 257


2 280

2 280b


2 280b

149 977


4 057

4 057b


4 057b

145 918


5 839

5 839b


5 839b


Source: Seoul Metropolitan Government (1978); Park (1981).

Note: KPW, South Korean won (in 1998, 1 278 KPW = 1 United States dollar [USD]); n = number of households.

a Moved to Kwangju complex.

b Estimated.

Policy of offering municipally managed apartments — This was a redevelopment policy to compensate evictees by offering them municipally managed apartments. Municipally managed apartments were the result of on-site redevelopment. In this case, the squatter areas were mostly in radial areas 5 km from Seoul city hall (Lee 1977; Kim 1989). Especially in the late 1970s, when there was a real-estate investment boom, a takji (certificate or ticket giving the right to purchase an apartment) was sold well above its original price, and eventually owners were persuaded to sell theirs. The evicted people’s poverty was another incentive for them to sell their tickets. The purchase rights were mostly sold to middle-class people, including lower-level white-collar workers.

Policy of financial aid — This policy was what the SMG called the “provision to protect the poor,” which meant granting the evicted people 100000–500000 KPW (in 1998, 1278 won [KPW] = 1 United States dollar [USD]). At an earlier stage, this policy served as a subsidiary to other policies, but as living costs rose as a result of overinvestment in real estate, this financial aid was far too little to compensate for high rents.

All in all, the goal of the eviction and consolidation policy was consistently limited to “better quality of physical environments.” The policy was based on an environmental-deterministic viewpoint — that is, squatter housing was perceived merely as being “unsanitary and delinquent” and as “objects to be beautified.” The residents’ right to the city and the life of the urban poor were not considered in the policy. Thus, the eviction policy included no welfare policies for the poor, and later, when it did, it was only because of the need to compromise with the residents who resisted, trying to reclaim their rights to the city.

Although the government partially accepted the residents’ demands for eviction compensation and housing rehabilitation, the policy had changed in form only. The government’s goal was to win over the residents by concealing any opposition to its policy (Table 2). The strategy to raise the quality of the physical environment, without consideration for the welfare of the squatters, resulted in the reduction of the relative and absolute housing space of the poor, sacrificing it to the housing space of the middle class. The poorer group, constantly threatened by evictions, moved away to the outer parts of the city, eventually causing the enlargement of the city. Although squatter tenants made up more than half the population of the eviction areas, no compensation was provided for them because they were not considered as experiencing any adverse consequences.

Table 2. Trends in compensation for the evicted, 1974–89.


Squatters could choose either a moving subsidy, the right to purchase municipally managed apartments, or a collective resettlement subsidy


Squatters could receive a moving subsidy (dwellers in redevelopment area received the right to purchase municipally managed apartments)


Both the moving subsidy and the right to buy the apartment were given to all


Prices of illegal squatter houses were estimated formally, and the right to purchase the apartment was given


After 1986, first-provision–then-eviction method was adopted

Source: Chang (1989).

The new mode of eviction policy in the 1980s: joint redevelopment

The change of direction and the development of the joint-redevelopment plan

Despite the coercive eviction-redevelopment policy, which continued until the 1970s, the number of urban poor increased, causing an increase in the illegal squatters in the outer-city areas where the eviction-redevelopment policy hadn’t yet been applied. This resulted in dilapidated housing and serious overcrowding in the outer-city areas.

It wasn’t long before the SMG grew interested in those areas. As the conflict between the state and the urban poor spread to the outer city, the shortage of vacant undeveloped land grew even worse. During 1965–85, housing prices rose by a factor of 50.5, whereas land prices rose by a factor of 163.7. This was due to the land-exhaustion phenomenon (KNHC 1987). Especially in the early 1980s, the increase in the urban population demanded new development and redevelopment of decent districts. To legitimize the government, which was jeopardized in the course of seizing political power, the 5th Republican Government (1980–87) tried to win over the middle class by helping them realize their dream of owning their own homes. In the early 1980s, a construction plan for 5 million houses was devised, and the redevelopment of illegal-squatter areas in the outer city was also discussed. But, of course, this policy, which had only political slogans, without any administrative and financial support, couldn’t be promoted and was buried under the economic-stabilization policy.

As the need to redevelop the “underdeveloped area” in the outer city increased, conflicts between the government and the squatters became more frequent. So the key to the eviction policy was to reduce any conflict between the government and the residents and, at the same time, consolidate the city space efficiently. To solve the latter problem, a “public-managed development” strategy


Figure 2. Squatter housing units as a proportion (%) of total dwelling units, 1974. Source: Lee (1977).

was planned, and to solve the former, the privatization of the eviction plan was prepared.

In the public-management strategy, the state mobilized administrative and financial resources and took full responsibility for redevelopment, including efficiency, costs, and property acquisition. The Mok Dong area (Figure 2) was a case in which that policy was applied. The Mok Dong area was located on the side of an arterial road to Seoul’s Kimpo International Airport. The road parallels the Han river. This area, including much of the river banks, remained underutilized, although it was occupied sparsely by squatters. And the area was visible to foreign visitors using the airport. From the standpoint of the city managers, this made it a priority spot to be redeveloped. But the public-management plan only resulted in the organized resistance of the residents and damage to the legitimacy of the state’s development policy because of its failure to socialize the development profits (Chang 1990).

After the failure of this public-management policy, the SMG adopted a policy of privatization, but with indirect state intervention. Although privatization was inevitable, the SMG didn’t want full privatization. Thus, to leave room for indirect intervention and to vitalize redevelopment, the participants were diversified. The idea was to have interest groups, such as those with investment or speculative capital, intervene. At the same time, the SMG had a divide-and-control strategy to limit the residents’ organized resistance.

In the late 1970s, the flow of oil money from the prospering Middle East came to a halt, and this led to a stagnation of the construction industry in the early 1980s. The redevelopment project was promoted in 1983 to make use of the idle construction personnel and capital. In the midst of the squatter-area redevelopment, the newly built apartments became objects of speculation for small- to mid-scale capital owners, known as pokbuin (fortune women). The SMG also invested idle capital to assist the residents who couldn’t afford the development.

But the poor people collectively resisted the state’s eviction policy, claiming that their right to the city was at stake in the course of the eviction redevelopment. The SMG needed a plan to dissolve the residents’ solidarity and thus weaken their resistance. This brought about the plan to use part of development profits as a device for amelioration. Soon there was a split between the squatter owners, who received slight compensation, and squatter tenants, who received nothing. This was the so-called joint-redevelopment plan, in which the construction company took responsibility for the project, including payment for the residents’ land, and the residents supplied the land.

The characteristics of the joint-redevelopment policy

The redevelopment plan changed direction when the Improvement Act, which emphasized the allocation of land, expired in 1982. That law was replaced by the Urban Redevelopment Act, which served as an institutional device to push forward the development of private land by land owners. The outline and procedures enacted by the SMG were as follows:

• The redevelopment co-operative, constituted by squatter owners in the region, was to be the main agent of the joint redevelopment;

• The construction company was to be selected by the co-operative;

• The construction company was to lend each household 5 million KPW, free of interest, and ensure that the area was completely vacated; and

• The construction company was to make a profit by selling the houses left after distributing houses to the previous home owners and should therefore build 1.5–2 times more houses than the number of previous owners.

This meant that ownership by the formerly illegal home owners was lawfully accepted. The home owners who gained legitimacy grew positive about the redevelopment plan, as they were to receive at least a small amount of the development profits, compared with what had happened in the 1970s. However, tenants gained nothing but the loss of their houses. The former state-versus-poor-groups antagonism was converted into group conflict.

The SMG was responsible only for managing the redevelopment process and for selling some parts of unsold government properties. In this respect, the joint redevelopment could be characterized as “privatization of housing redevelopment.” The government’s intervention decreased, and the construction company’s interest in maximizing its profits was to take its place.

As the profits that the construction company would make depended on there being units left over after distribution to the co-operative members, the company wanted to construct as many apartments as possible. The SMG, to ensure that it could “anticipate the construction company’s participation,” responded to the company’s requests. The former building law permitted only a 50% volumetric ratio, so the building-to-land ratio was increased to 400%, enabling the company to construct highrise buildings (Kim 1985). The housing redevelopment was reactivated after being delayed by many obstacles. As a result, the SMG was able to raise more revenue by collecting taxes from the newly built legal houses and by selling government land. For instance, in 1984, the SMG made 10 billion KPW from selling government land in Kuro District 1 and Cheon Ho District 1, where redevelopment was occurring.

The government could also minimize the political costs of discordance with the residents because, with the new plan, the conflict was between the co-operative and the residents. Thus, the SMG could efficiently achieve its goals while mobilizing the least number of administrative forces and providing the least amount of financial support. The practical precipitators in the redevelopment were the speculative capitalists, a hidden factor. The urban poor, who lived on a day-to-day basis, could only feel intimidated by the moving costs and the long wait for construction.

Speculators took advantage of the prolonged redevelopment process. They sold takji, at a slightly higher price, to appease the former residents and also to enable outsiders to infiltrate the community as home owners and convince the residents to agree to the redevelopment.

Let us now consider the social and economic outcome of the joint redevelopment. In March 1987, apartments for 29564 households, had been or were being constructed on a land space of 445 000 pyong in 44 redevelopment districts. This was about three times the scale of the 4 010 apartments on 140 000 pyong in 15 districts anticipated in the original November 1985 plan and 1.5 times all of the housing development executed from 1974 to 1985.

The joint-redevelopment plan seemed to be more rational than the approach taken in the past. Nearly all the illegally occupied government or public land was put on the market and included in the capitalistic system through the development plan. Housing construction increased immensely because the profit depended on the number of high-density apartments built. For example, in 1987, the number of apartments to be built was 29 564, more than twice as many as the households to be evicted (14446).

But on the whole, the joint redevelopment not only ignored the poorer groups’ housing problems but actually aggravated them. During the first 2 years of joint redevelopment, the evicted households numbered 4 666, which represented 48% of the newly built apartments. This showed that the increased housing stock was of little use.

It can be noted that each of the illegal shelters had an average of 2.5 households, including both owner and tenants. Before, the owner and tenants maintained friendly relations. In most cases, the tenants’ deposit represented part of the payment for the house. Also, the rental income formed a considerable proportion of the owner’s total income. In times of crisis, such as unemployment or long-term disability, home owners could easily become tenants. Tenants, through savings, could become home owners. As the owner–tenant relationship was interchangeable, there was little cause for conflict surrounding the ownership of the house.

The tenants began to distrust the redevelopment plan when the profits were distributed in an unequal way, and soon the tenants’ movement evolved. As they were excluded from the redevelopment benefits, the tenants organized a movement, claiming the right to the city (Lee 1986; Hong 1990). The tenants’ struggle, which had started as an owner-tenant conflict, eventually developed into a political struggle against the redevelopment plan itself.

The owner-tenant conflict concerning evictions spread as the home owners were displaced by speculative-capitalist outsiders, who hastened the redevelopment to pursue their own profits. What had apparently been a conflict between tenants and owners became more a matter of tenants versus outsiders as the eviction period drew nearer. The residents’ inner conflict was in fact a conflict between the tenants, who stressed the utility value of the houses, and the capitalists, who emphasized the exchange value of the houses.

But actually, the owners were victims, too. The owners usually disposed of their houses at a slightly higher price than the market price to speculators who had information before the public notice. So the former owners received only a small proportion of the redevelopment profits. In the course of disposal, the owner often became a tenant of the outsider who bought the house. Eventually, the residents moved to squatter areas. At the time of joint redevelopment, the clearance of squatter areas increased, which meant that the home owners had no option but to use up all their allocations when the shortage of houses caused housing costs to soar (Cho and Cho 1988).

In conclusion, the public authorities had developed a new model, joint redevelopment, to appropriate redevelopment costs by introducing both construction and speculative capital. The government’s intention was to transfer all the rights concerning the redevelopment to the redevelopment co-operative, thus enabling the privatization of the plan while remaining a third party. This strategy, which partially included the owners but excluded the tenants, served as a device to divide and control the owners and tenants. In the course of the joint redevelopment, people were evicted from their accommodations by brute force and replaced by the middle class. This fact was revealed in the case of the eviction gangs mobilized for coercive eviction in some areas where there was resistance.

Joint redevelopment: the case of Sang Kye Dong

The overall situation of Sang Kye Dong

The beginning of the evictions: the enforcement of joint redevelopment

Part of Sang Kye Dong was designated a redevelopment area on 20 April 1985. The area, with 1 528 households, was in 173 Sang Kye Dong, Do Bong Ku, Seoul. The formal title of the project was Housing Improvement Redevelopment Plan of the Sang Kye Dong 4th District, Area 1. This particular area had been under military protection for 20 years, until March 1985. In January 1985, the line-4 subway section was opened. The need to beautify the city in preparation for the Seoul Olympics reinforced the need for the redevelopment plan.

The situation of the area before redevelopment

The 173 Sang Kye Dong area was near the northeast boundary of Seoul, where the surrounding mountains form a graceful landscape. This area had developed in 1964/65 with the relocation of people evicted from other areas. People from the Cheong Kye Cheon and Hannam areas had settled there as a result of the SMG’s resettlement project of the 1960s. Before joint redevelopment, it was a community with 1 528 households living in 3- to 4-pyong single rooms with kitchens in 148 apartment buildings on government land totaling 43 620 m2. Among the residents were 947 squatter owners and 581 tenants. In comparison with other squatter areas, where two or three households resided in one house, the houses in Sang Kye Dong area were separate, each with one room and one kitchen. Here, the owners and tenants didn’t live in the same house.

Despite lacking basic urban services, such as public transportation, water supply, and sewage systems, the residents enjoyed a comfortable atmosphere in which the neighbours were always willing to help and cooperate with one another.

The characteristics of the joint-redevelopment plan

The joint-redevelopment policy was applied to this area. This eviction-redevelopment policy had been criticized for transferring the problem of squatters instead of solving it. Figure 3 shows how the problem was transferred in the case of 1 528 households in this area. Many of the home owners with lawful rights to participate in the redevelopment experienced financial problems and had to leave the area. Of the 947 owners’ households, 862 (91%) moved out. In other words, only 85 owners’ households moved to new apartments in the redeveloped area.

The tenants had no rights to the redevelopment area, causing many of them to leave spontaneously and individually. During the initial stage of redevelopment, up to 271 squatter-tenant households left without even claiming any housing rights. Some of the tenants organized struggles, asserting their housing rights. The main issue was to build a community in a new place. In response, the redevelopment co-operative and the construction company provided them with a settlement area in Pocheon, Kyong Ki province, 30 km from the eviction area (Figure 4). In May 1986, 134 households settled in that area. But the tenants who had organized the movement refused to move to the Pocheon area, demanding a place with better living conditions.

The government forcefully evicted the people remaining in Sang Kye Dong on 14 April 1987. Several households had left individually, tired of the struggle. Ultimately, 374 tenants’ households moved out; 73 tenants’ households remained


Figure 3. Mobility situation of the residents.


Figure 4. The old and new settlements of the collective movers. Source: Lee (1977).

struggling, but they later moved their sites to Myong Dong Catholic Church, appealing to public opinion. In June 1987, with some financial aid from the Church, 39 households were able to leave the temporary settlement. The new settlement they moved to was located in a greenbelt area in Namyangju county, about 4 km from the redevelopment area (see Figure 4). The 34 households that resisted until the end moved to the outer part of Pucheon city, Kyong Ki province, in January 1988, with the support of the construction company.

The research

For the sake of research, the owners can be divided into two groups: resale owners, who sold their houses, and resident owners, who actually moved into the newly built apartments. The tenants can be divided into individual movers, who were forced out by government pressure, and collective movers, who first struggled in the organization but eventually moved out as well. Individual movers scattered to other parts of Seoul, but collective movers moved to three different places in Kyong Ki province (see Figure 3).

As shown in Table 3, this study covered 457 households (30% of the total 1 528 households involved). Because of the difficulty detecting the individual movers, who were all scattered, only 20% of the total owners put to analysis were found to be resale owners, and 23% of the tenants were found to be individual movers. The collective movers were much easier to survey because of geographic conditions.

With the help of the Dong Residence List, provided by the Dong administrative office (the lowest local authority), the Illegal House List, and the List of Actual Residents in the Apartments, it was possible to trace the movers and confirm which households had actually moved in. The status of social welfare (whether or not the people were scattered) and the level of housing were determined through face-to-face interviews and questionnaires.

The effects of the joint redevelopment on owners and tenants

Changes in the level of home ownership

Initially, having hopes of excessive returns, the owners established the redevelopment co-operative with 96% approval for redevelopment. But as the price of the houses rose during redevelopment, some owners sold their houses to outsiders and moved out of the area. During the construction phase, many of the owners had to move to other areas, so they had no choice but to sell their takji to speculators or brokers. Once the ownership was sold, the ticket tended to be resold in succession by the speculators. Of all the houses that had switched ownership, 18% had changed owners more than five times. In sum, 91% of the owners moved to other areas, and only 9% moved into the newly built apartments.

Table 3. Subject of study.










Move in




Population A (N)






Sample B (n)






B/A (%)






Note: Percentages do not add up to 100 because of difficulty detecting individual movers, who were scattered.

Table 4. Transfer of ownership.




Before redevelopment















After redevelopment












Most couldn’t afford to pay for the house or to cover the management expenses. The new apartments were much too large for the poor people. The government standard for poor peoples’ houses was 24 pyong, but the supply of houses close to that size was far too low. The demand amounted to 817 households, whereas the supply was only 330. This situation occurred because large houses were more profitable to the construction company.

Tenants, receiving no housing subsidy at all, faced a disastrous situation. In the joint redevelopment, only the owners had rights to participate in the co-operative, which left the tenants with no right to protest. But it made no sense to them to have no claims at all:

This area was developed 20 years ago when the Seoul Metropolitan Government moved the evicted people to governmental land, and it thus became a liveable place. So we also have the right to participate in this area’s redevelopment program. The market price of the land is 600,000 won and the government is paying 300,000 won for it, but the benefits all go to the owners. Until now if the owners have paid the government rents, we have paid much higher rents to the owners. In fact, we were the people who occupied the governmental land, as tenants, and not the owners, who didn’t even live there. We also have rights concerning Sang Kye Dong.

There was no formal response from the co-operative, but it acted as if it were bestowing charity. Most of the tenants who suffered received money for moving or settling costs from the SMG; compensation from the company; and reimbursement of the deposit, as well as some bonus, from the home owners. Eventually, the tenants moved out of Sang Kye Dong, either individually or collectively.

EFFECTS ON HOME OWNERSHIP: A SYNTHESIS — The redevelopment directly affected housing ownership and rent levels of the residents of the area. The Sang Kye Dong redevelopment affected ownership in four possible ways — some owners remained as owners, some owners became tenants, some tenants became owners, and some tenants remained as tenants (Table 4):

• Of the original home owners, 29% bought new houses. Most of the houses bought were in squatter areas, and after purchase, most owners rented them out to subsidize the payment for the house.

• Of the original home owners, 71% became tenants after redevelopment. They either sold their right to purchase or returned the deposit to former tenants, which left them with just enough money to rent another house at a higher price. Before redevelopment, as owners, they had no worries about rent or moving expenses, but in the course of redevelopment it turned out to be otherwise.

• Tenants who became owners after redevelopment constituted less than 1% of the total households. In most cases, these tenant households had secondary incomes from family members, and the tenants were merely carrying out their previous plans to purchase a house through the redevelopment.

• Tenants who were still tenants after the redevelopment fared the worst. Most of them mot only had to pay high rents and moving costs, but also lost their employment-information network; 99% of the tenants were in this category. They moved to nearby squatter areas, causing rents to rise. In the Sang Kye Dong area, the rents rose by as much as 100%. Of the tenants, it turned out that 78% of them paid higher rents after redevelopment; 19%, the same; and 3%, lower.

Geographical mobility of owners and individually moving tenants

The owners and tenants were likely to move their living bases in the course of redevelopment. It was natural for most of the tenants and most of the home owners who sold their rights to move out, but to remain in the adjacent areas. A few of the home owners succeeded in moving back into the new apartments. The owners who moved into the newly established apartments constituted 85 households, only 9% of the total 947 households. Of these, 61 households, or 72%, left their houses for much inferior areas because they didn’t have the money to pay for the new house.

The movers moved only 2 km from their original residences (63% of the owners and 67% of the tenants, as shown in Table 5). The short distance was due to local advantages, such as employment, schooling, and other facilities.

Table 5. Distance moved.






Distance (km)



































Those who didn’t participate in the housing-rights struggle mostly moved to more distant areas, whereas the participants who moved out at a later time settled nearby. Households with single incomes and households dependent on income earners with difficulty getting time off (day workers and those in home crafts or technical services) moved out of Sang Kye Dong area at an earlier time and to far-away regions. There turned out to be a positive correlation between mobility frequency and moving distance: the more frequent the moving was, the greater the distance became. The tenants who moved out individually experienced extremely unstable housing conditions: 69% of these people moved more than five times during the 4 years after being forced out of Sang Kye Dong in 1986; 27% of the resale owners moved more than five times.

Effects on housing welfare

In Sang Kye Dong, the effects on the standard of welfare could be divided into three categories: housing conditions, use of neighbourhood utilities, and degree of access. The details of the housing conditions included number of rooms, the floor space for each household, the number of households sharing a house, the facilities and materials of the building, and the use of space. Use of neighbourhood utilities was examined in reference to schooling, hospitals, water supply, sewage system, electricity, garbage disposal, and purchase of goods. Employment, education, and cultural opportunities were researched to determine the degree of access.

Owners had more or less the same or better housing conditions and neighbourhood facilities after the redevelopment as they had had before. But they had difficulty with degree of access. According to Table 6, 44% of the respondents indicated that their housing conditions had improved, and 40% said these conditions had remained the same. The number of rooms and the floor space remained the same or increased. The number of households sharing a house was the same.

Table 6. Change in housing conditions.


Number of


Floor space




Overall housing




















No change


















Note: n = number of respondents.

Use of neighbourhood utilities was similar because the home owners mostly moved within the same neighbourhood. Medical facilities, water supply, sewage system, and garbage disposal improved. The marketplace was farther away. Cultural institutions, such as entertainment facilities and libraries, were more or less the same. Work sites and schools were farther away because most of the residents maintained their jobs in the former Sang Kye Dong area or continued going to the same school there. Finding full- or part-time employment became challenging because of the destruction of the community information network.

Tenants who moved individually experienced the worst changes in housing conditions. They moved to new squatter settlements near their former homes. The number of households sharing a house increased by 90%. The floor space available to each household decreased, and 84% of households experienced a decrease in the number of rooms — they now had one, instead of two. The rents increased, but the overall housing conditions were similar or even worse. The marketplace was not as convenient. The supply of electricity remained the same. The degree of access to employment decreased. Unemployed people searched for their former housemates to obtain employment information. Commuting and attending schools was difficult because people started to use public transportation, increasing transportation costs and time — formerly, they had walked.

Households had to pay the psychological price of leaving their community and adjusting to a new atmosphere. People who moved out later were sometimes called “demonstrators” in their new neighbourhoods.

Effects on collectively moved tenants: those most adversely affected

COERCIVE EVICTION — A few conscientious tenants opposed the eviction-centred joint-redevelopment plan. In the course of the struggle, there were two camps: the pacifists and the hard-liners. All struggles imply sacrifice and suffering, and in this case it was the hard-liners who experienced much suffering. The struggles between the government and the owners and tenants intensified in June 1986, when two tenants were imprisoned and four others died. Many were taken to police stations or arrested during the struggles. Eventually, many tenants gave up fighting and were forced to leave the property; half left voluntarily, and half were coerced.

Those who participated in the antieviction struggles moved collectively. The three groups of collective movers differed in their degree of struggle. Those who moved out last were the ones who struggled the most. They were moved out of Seoul into Kyong Ki province. In May 1986, tenants moved to Pocheon county; in June 1987, to Namyangju county; and in January 1988, to Pucheon city (see Figure 3).

The resettlement area in Pocheon county was 30.5 km north of Sang Kye Dong. It took more than 1 hour to get from Seoul by bus, which ran every 2 hours. Those who were moved on 30 May 1986 were allocated 10 apartment houses that had been converted from poultry farms and pigsties into housing for 145 households: 4- to 5-pyong shelters built on a 3 116-pyong plot of land.

It was evident that the houses were inappropriate for human dwelling. The walls were too weak and thin for protection against the cold or the heat. The neighbourhood smelled of leather, furniture, machines, cement, and straw bags, and there were no convenient utilities nearby. For medical or administrative services, residents had to walk for more than 30 minutes or take a taxi. It took 30 minutes to get to the local market; 85% of the residents went to the markets in Seoul instead. Access to educational institutions was poor. Schools were nearby, but 25% of the middle-school students and 100% of the high-school students went to schools in Seoul. Despite the transportation difficulties (the money and time involved), high-quality education was the only hope for these people’s children: of the heads of households, 67% were labourers; 13% were in small-scale trades; 7% were factory workers; 7% were drivers; 3% were janitors; and another 3% were office workers.

At first, the only job opportunities were in Sang Kye Dong. Thus, people had no choice but to bear the transportation costs and physical fatigue of commuting. As time went by, old people and women changed job sites to nearby leather, furniture, straw-bag, and veneer-board factories. But even at the time of this research, more than 80% of the men were still commuting to Seoul and Sang Kye Dong. The residents had been given 600000 KPW for settlement fees, provided that they not move again for 5 years. Consequently, they could not move to other places; nonetheless, 27% secretly left their houses empty and rented other houses in Seoul.

Doksong Rhi, a new settlement in Namyangju county, was in the greenbelt area in Kyong Ki province, about 4 km from Sang Kye Dong. The government tore down the new settlement every 15 days or so, claiming that construction was forbidden in that area. The residents called this place Borum house (which means “15-day house”). Registration of permanent-address transfer wasn’t permitted, which greatly inconvenienced people receiving mail, etc. In this settlement, 65% of the heads of households were labourers; 17% were in commerce; 12% were factory workers; 4% were drivers; and 2% were janitors.

The houses in Nare village (meaning “let’s live here with wings wide open”) were made of vinyl. They were originally built for people raising crops. The neighbourhood had one supermarket and one nursery. The marketplace, hospitals, pharmacy, and administrative office were all 4-5 km away, up in Sang Kye Dong. People used the mountain stream for water supply. Schools and workplaces were all in Sang Kye Dong, and the transportation was very inconvenient. The area had no public telephones, let alone any cultural facilities.

Kokang Dong was in Pucheon city, Kyong Ki province, about 40 km from Sang Kye Dong. Here, on an 850-pyong land tract, was where the final strugglers — the “39 households” — settled, in January 1988. Soon after they moved here, the government of Pucheon city tore down their temporary shelters. The reason it gave was that the area was near the highway where the Olympic Torch was to be carried. The government was worried that this settlement of homeless people might lower the country’s reputation. Before three temporary tenements were built in July 1988, the people were forced to live in underground caves.

The condition of the public housing was as follows: The houses were built with thin blocks, and each house was about 8 pyong, with a temporary screen to separate the kitchen from the main room. At first, they had no water supply or sewage system. Also, no electricity was available. However, public medical service was better than in the other two resettlement areas. The market was nearby, but the school and work sites were very far, causing transportation problems. Seventy percent of the people commuted to Seoul, and 80% of the middle- and high-school students attended schools in Seoul as well. Of the heads of households, 68% were labourers; 11% were in commerce; 13% were factory workers; 4% were janitors; 2% were drivers; and another 2% were unemployed.

THE JOYS AND SORROWS — The reclaimed community was built through sacrifice. The most important secondary effects of the evictions were poverty, the destruction of families, and the loss of humanity. For instance, an elderly woman moved with the collective movers, but her two sons moved out individually. As normal domestic and work life became impossible, four couples divorced: one each in Pocheon and Namyangju counties and two in Pucheon city. Some people showed mental disorders. Many felt intimidated by the harsh treatment.

But the children suffered the most. They witnessed their parents demonstrating, being taken away by the police, and being beaten up. Children would scream in terror on seeing a hammer. “They are going to tear our houses down!” However, external oppression sometimes results in internal solidarity. Several autonomous organizations and a community life developed in the villages. Students’, young people’s, men’s and women’s, and parents’ associations provided places for discussion of various topics concerning the village. Support for the elderly was one of the most important concerns.

Their common experiences enabled the people to share their sorrows and joys with one another. The solidarity of the residents was strong, and they also maintained ongoing relationships with other urban-poor associations in Seoul. They never lost hope for the future. They named their places Saiteo (“new land”) and Narai (“wings”,) and Boram (“fruitfulness”) for hope. The collective movers who moved to Saiteo, in Pocheon county, were planning to construct three 15-story apartment buildings in 1992: 165 households were to move into 20-, 24-, and 30-pyong apartments. This plan was executed without any outside aid.

The Narai village, in Namyangju county, was left with transportation and public-facility problems. In October 1990, 25 households moved into the new permanent-rent public-housing apartments in Shinheung Rhi 4, Namyangju county. Each house was 13 pyong and required a rent-deposit of 1.280 million KPW and monthly rent of 50 000 KPW. Thirty percent of the workers commuted to Sang Kye Dong; 50%, to Seoul; and 20%, to Kyong Ki province.

The Boram village of Pocheon used to have extremely inconvenient and neglected buildings. For some time, the people who moved there received help from the urban-poor associations, but soon a conflict arose. Some moved to nearby tenement houses, and the other 11 households (mostly Roman Catholic) stayed in the community village. Their intention was to construct community houses for other poor people like themselves.

The development of housing rights

Ha (1992) pointed out that housing rights in Korea were already confirmed in the Constitution:

• According to the Preamble, all the people should have equal opportunity to advance in life;

• Article 10 states that everyone should be respected and valued as human beings and have the right to the pursuit of happiness;

• Article 35 states that all the people have the right to live in a healthy and pleasant atmosphere;

• Article 35 states that to assure these rights the state must provide adequate housing conditions through housing-development policies.

Thus, as expressed in the Constitution, people do have the right to adequate (humane) living and housing conditions.

The Association for the Realization of Housing Rights, believing this right was being ignored, declared 3 June 1992 the “Day of the People Not Owning Houses.” This civic organization for the authorization of housing rights as a basic right declared the following:

• Housing rights must be recognized and protected;

• Poor people must be protected from forced relocation and eviction;

• A system of public rental housing for low-income groups must be established; and

• The tenants’ right of lease must be completely protected.

These were (and still are) the claims of the tenants of the squatter settlements, for whom the question of housing rights is crucial.

The failure to recognize housing rights originated from the lack of social consciousness of the poor people evicted. To most people, the lack of housing was due to the individual’s inability to secure it. The lack of housing was a manifestation of poverty, and most peoples’ attitude was that poverty was a sin and that responsibility for the lack of housing was the individual’s, rather than the government’s. This perception was reinforced by the social situation. As the Korean slogan “clothing-eating-housing” demonstrates, Koreans traditionally underestimate the importance of housing, compared with the two other necessities. Given the basic needs of human beings, the slogan should be “eating-housing-clothing.”

Within this cultural context, the housing-rights situation was as follows. Any collective behaviour resisting the evictions was forbidden. The squatter settlements were illegal; thus, resistance to the government’s eviction policy was also considered illegal (and antisocial). Any collective acts or claims to housing rights were stopped at the outset.

South Korea’s legitimacy was established on the basis of opposition to North Korea’s communism, and most people still had bad memories of the Korean war. So even though the poor people’s claims might have seemed just in humanistic terms, the common people supported the government’s position that the poor people’s claims would destabilize the whole of society, which would eventually be advantageous to the communists. The poor people’s antieviction movement received no positive response, and the issue continued to be perceived as a minor problem.

The government’s policy of industrialization in the 1960s promoted export trade. One of successful results of this policy was that international trade began to grow rapidly, and the need arose to promote Seoul as a world-class city. The expansion of the basic urban infrastructure and the plan to hide the squatters were priorities. The people in the squatter settlements adjacent to the main roads were thus the first to be evicted. The government had no concern about the evicted people’s housing situation. The people had no choice but to move to areas where the government’s eviction policy was not yet being carried out. Their ignorance of their right to housing was related to the lack of any organized activities promoting housing rights for the poorer groups. The academic community ignored the housing situation of the squatters. For instance, architects were constantly dwelling on elitist desires, designing houses only for the higher income groups (Kang 1986).

The social origin of the recognition of housing rights

The recognition of housing rights arose in the early 1980s. In preparation for the 1988 Seoul Olympics, the SMG commenced a large-scale urban beautification project. The priority of this urban beautification was the squatter areas, where the new town-development plan and the joint-redevelopment plan were in progress.

The Mok Dong apartment complex, near Kimpo International Airport, was a housing-construction project directly executed by the SMG and thus a large-scale undertaking. The joint redevelopment took place in every part of the city, including the squatter settlements near the Olympic sites. Improvised plans were implemented in several areas simultaneously. The improvised large-scale projects, resulted in large-scale mishaps. The eviction of the squatter settlements in Mok Dong caused much damage. From their residences in 580 legitimate and 1 779 illegal apartments, a total of 2 846 tenant households and 2 359 owner households — more than 10 000 people — were forced to move without any provisions.

The recognition of the right to housing developed during the implementation of the government’s inconsistent urban-redevelopment policy. The Mok Dong area, like many other joint-redevelopment areas, was a settlement that had been provided by the government as a part of its relocation policy of the 1960s. Thus, it seemed to the dwellers that because of its lack of welfare provisions, the government’s redevelopment policy was inconsistent and a repeating failure. They had been forced by the government to move into that very same area only a decade or two before.

The claims of the residents of Mok Dong 1, presented by the eviction-provision committee on 9 March 1985, were as follows:

Fully discontinue the redevelopment policy with no provisions for the Mok Dong residents: The Seoul Metropolitan Government must return all the profits from the Mok Dong area speculation: Construction and installment after the compensation for housing provision: Stop the brutal kicking and beating up of the residents who want discussion: We are going to struggle with all our might if the violence and arresting without provision continues.

(Lee 1985)

Some of the poorer groups began to suffer the damaging effects of the government’s policy. The squatter tenants suffered the most. The squatter owners were given housing provisions, but the tenants had only a “private” relationship with the owners and thus were ineligible for provisions from the government. Presenting this policy, the SMG stated that

according to the law or the society’s general attitudes, the problem of the tenants should be solved by the owners but it can be evaluated as valid that the tenants of Mok Dong area, being mostly low income groups, might be allowed to move in the new apartments, which can be viewed as a “relief policy.”

(Lee 1985)

When the eviction was initiated, the tenants attributed their situation to their own failings and thought that, with their deposits returned by the owners, they would be able to move to similar settlements. But soon they discovered that in other squatter areas the rents had risen drastically. The redevelopments in several parts of the city reduced the available housing, thus raising the average rent. The tenants’ disappointment and discontent nearly exploded.

The anger of the squatter dwellers, especially the tenants, intensified as a result of the social situation. During the 5th Republic (1980–87), the students’ movement opposing the illegitimate government was very active. The citizens soon grew sympathetic toward the students. The tenants realized that their disadvantage was a direct result of the illegitimate government’s policy. The government, ignoring the welfare of the poor, tended to concentrate on a showing-off strategy, such as hosting the Olympics, while endeavouring to cover up its own illegitimacy. Society’s antigovernment attitude precipitated the tenants’ anti-eviction movement.

Religious groups entered the squatters antieviction movement. Christians started to participate in social movements, including the antieviction movement, after the events in Mok Dong in 1985. Two religious associations supported the poor people’s seizure of political power as a priority in Korea: the Presbyterian Poor People’s Missionary Committee and the Catholic Poor People’s Association. The reason for their participation was their “religious awakening.” By this, they meant their realization that “those who seek God without seeking social justice cannot reach the truthful God.” So they asserted that they would “find the right path of the poor people’s movement and give expression to the injustices of the redevelopment policies.” The organizations also mobilized the tenants’ housing-rights movement. The participation of the Christians served as a shield against the government’s accusations that the members of the poor people’s movement were communists (although, according to the recollection of Father John Daily, who participated in the poor people’s movement, the security police stirred up a rumour that he was an American communist). In that respect, the Christian associations acted as a safety valve.

A study of the participation of religious groups in the poor people’s movement (Park 1992) showed that 87% of their activities were events to increase the political power of the urban poor; of these, 47% were demonstrations and sit-ins. From January 1988 to June 1989, the poor people’s movement was responsible for 165 official events: 102 organized by the Presbyterian Poor People’s Missionary Committee and the Catholic Poor People’s Association, separately or together; and 63 put together by other movement organizations. Forty-three percent of these official events were rallies with more than 300 people, and the most frequent activities (67) were demonstrations and sit-ins (Park 1992).

The Sang Kye Dong incidents’ enhancement of the recognition of housing rights

The new claims for housing rights

The Sang Kye Dong incidents in 1986, following the events in Mok Dong, marked another significant manifestation of the struggle for the right to housing. Above all, extreme conflicts were occurring between the squatter owners and tenants. This was because, in contrast to the owners, the tenants were receiving no compensation at all. When the tenants realized this, they started participating in organized struggles. They were somewhat encouraged by the provisions for the tenants in the Mok Dong area.4 The tenants remained and struggled in the redevelopment areas until they were forced out. Then they moved to the army tents inside the Myong Dong Catholic Church to be under the protection of the religious group:

... so we fought with our bodies. At first the struggle was like throwing eggs at a rock. Those who were the victims got arrested. But to us it was winning by losing and beating up by being beaten up. In 1986 we were evicted 10 times and many people were hurt, and our households were destroyed. 5 were arrested and 4 got killed. We were accused of being Communists.

(SKDTC 1988)

The Seoul Catholic Parish representatives appealed to the government, the ruling party, and the high-ranking officials for the welfare of these people. The religious leaders demanded that these people’s housing rights be formally considered and thus that the government carry out a welfare policy in the redevelopment areas. The SMG agreed to provide subsidies for the tenants in the Myong Dong Catholic Church but refused to do it officially. The high-ranking officials’ response was that they didn’t have administrative and financial provisions ready for all the evicted people who would be demanding their rights if the tenants in Myong Dong Catholic Church received any official compensation. In the end, the tenants in Myong Dong Catholic Church were divided into two groups and moved into outer-city areas.

The events in Sang Kye Dong are noteworthy, as it was the first time that residents partially maintained their community and moved collectively. Poor people’s communities mean more than just living in the same area. The Sang Kye Dong case is an example of how solidarity can be preserved in a new settlement community.

The lesson of Sang Kye Dong

The events in Sang Kye Dong had several significant effects on the eviction-centred-redevelopment policy. First, it was wrongly understood that even if the authors of the eviction plans were the civilian co-operatives, they must be held fully

4 Most of the poor people involved in the events in Mok Dong had been tenants. Out of the tenant households evicted in the case of Mok Dong, in the Shin Jeoung Dong area, 2 031 were standard households and 615 were singles; and 23% were yearly rentals and 77% were monthly. The government’s policy of provision for the Mok Dong tenants was to offer them four options: one room of a 20-pyong rental apartment; subsidized moving costs up to 500 000 KPW; a 1.3 million KPW loan to those moving out of Seoul; or a loan for building a self-help housing complex. The fourth option included help for the tenants in acquiring appropriate land for the complex and, when moving, administrative support and loans for housing (Lee 1985).

responsible for the welfare of the people to be evicted. In Mok Dong, the compensation for the residents was from the government in charge, but in Sang Kye Dong the development was led by private enterprise, which was considered responsible for the tenants. This can certainly be regarded as progress in housing rights.

Second, the tenants, although in separate units, settled in groups and were able to maintain their former community. This provided momentum in stabilizing and maintaining the tenants’ community after redevelopment. In the Mok Dong case, the tenants received some compensation, but they had to break up their community and move individually to different areas. The Sang Kye Dong case provided a precedent for the provision of settlement areas — another step forward in the new promotion of housing rights. A lesson is that an achievement in one area stimulates further achievements in others.

Third, social groups started to advocate for the squatter tenants and raised consciousness of the housing and subsistence rights of the tenants. Social groups, including the press and the poor people’s organizations, regarded the struggles of the squatter tenants as a social problem, not as individual problems whose outcomes depended on chance. The events received frequent press coverage. But compared with the international press, domestic coverage was fragmented. For instance, channel 4 television in the United Kingdom covered the Sang Kye Dong evictions as an example of absurdities in Korean society’s preparations for the Olympics. The moral support of such groups aided greatly in the improvement of the tenants’ situation. This was because the international interest focused on South Korea was always the main concern of the government.

The progress in housing rights in the 1980s

The progress in housing rights in South Korea in the 1980s was largely the result of the tenants’ struggles in the joint-redevelopment areas. Those who struggled might have been only a small proportion of the tenants, but their struggles were fierce. Their achievements cannot in any way be considered as charity from the construction company, the redevelopment co-operative, or the government. In the long course of struggle, 60 tenants were arrested and hundreds were detained. Eighteen people were killed or committed suicide. The press coverage of the casualties evoked social disapproval of evictions. Eventually, evictions were recognized as an important social issue.

The persistent struggles of the Sang Kye Dong and Sa Dang Dong tenants paved the way for the future implementation of the housing provision for squatter tenants. Poor people’s organizations, such as the Catholic Urban Poor Organization and the Presbyterian Urban Poor Missionary Committee, supported the tenants in organizing the Seoul Evicted People’s Committee (the Seochulhyup).5 A new compensation policy was brought forth as a result of the continuous struggle.

The historical developments in the compensation process were as follows. As a result of the consistent collective demonstrations of the Sang Kye Dong tenants, in November 1986 the government enacted the first compensation provision for the tenants. This provision, announced by the Minister of the Economic Planning Board, was called the “housing provision payment” (equivalent to 2 months’ average expenditure of an urban worker). In May 1987, the provision was expanded to a choice between “moving provision aids” and a ticket to purchase a 7-pyong“small apartment.” But the tenants’ ticket — the right to purchase an apartment at a low price — resulted in speculation. The tenants in need of money sold their rights to speculators or other higher income groups and then moved to other squatter areas. This shows that the provision policy wasn’t actually aiding the housing welfare of the poor. Those participating in the tenants’ movement continued to demand fundamental provisions, so in May 1989 the government upgraded the 7-pyong tickets to provide permanent rental houses in the neighbourhood or 3 months’ moving costs.

What was the guiding force behind the achievement of this progress in housing rights? It was the tenants’ consciousness of the injustice of evictions. A squatter tenant complained that

the nearby rents had risen two or three times and it was even hard to find one of those [apartments]. We ran around to the Dong administration office, the Ku administration office and the city hall to appeal for moving provisions. But their consistent reply was that they didn’t know. It was of no concern to them to pry into private affairs of the residents themselves. Or they understood the situation but they would like us to make the sacrifice for our descendants and the Olympics. Who are the “we” that they are talking about? They include only the residents-to-be of the new high-quality apartments [referring to Sang Kye Dong Olympics].

This recognition of injustice grew from the perception of both social and individual conditions. The perception of social conditions was based on the critical view of the government’s urban beautification policy for the Olympics. The nation might benefit from the Olympics, but if it meant distributing the benefits unequally and, in exchange, sacrificing the poor, then it could not be tolerated. The

5 The Mok Dong redevelopment, in 1985, and the Sang Kye Dong joint redevelopment, in 1986, provided the opportunity, and afterward more than 20 committees were assembled from Yang Pyong Dong, Sa Dang Dong, and so on. In 1988, more than 10 000 households participated (Kim 1988).

tenants’ perceptions of individual conditions were that they were getting worse as a result of the eviction-centred redevelopment policy. Also, they soon realized that without a struggle, no welfare policy would be provided for them.

The tactical efforts to publicize these events should also be noted. The tenants made videotapes showing scenes of the damage at the eviction sites and used these to publicize the issue. A documentary film, The Sang Kye Dong Olympics, satirized the destruction caused by the Olympics. The film began with the following narration:

The 88 Olympics is called the glory of the nation, the festival of the world. But the evicted people of 200 places, including Sang Kye Dong, are against the Olympics. The redevelopment in accordance with the Olympics deprived the people of their living sites and caused permanent wounds to their bodies and souls.

(SKDTC 1988)

Like the phrase “progress does not and cannot mean equal and simultaneous progress for all” (Carr 1967), the fact that the allocation of provisions depended on the degree of struggle motivated the movement. Some tenants submitted to the evictions and left voluntarily, but others fought for their rights and succeeded in attaining collective resettlement villages. And this success stimulated the housing-rights movement.

The trials and errors of the housing-rights movement

Looking back at the achievements in housing rights in the 1980s, one sees that the efforts of the poor people’s movement began to peak in the late 1980s. The tenants who had achieved their goals within the collective movement soon reverted to individualistic attitudes. But every action has an equal but opposite reaction. Contrary to the pervasive attitude that one should adapt to the present situation was the desire to continue the housing-rights struggle and to broaden the housing-rights horizon. Continuous action and reaction cause chaos. Within the community, the tension and conflict intensified. Groups in the movement began to distrust each other, and this also caused friction. As the Seochulhyup decreased its activities, the National Association to Realize Housing Rights (Chukeo Yonhap) separated and went its own way. The Seochulhyup proclaimed that a political revolution was the short-cut to the realization of housing rights: the group’s slogan was “no democratization without subsistence rights for the poor.” But the Chukeo Yonhap accepted the system and sought to realize within it the dimension of subsistence rights. In 1992, 10 or so sites were being led by the Seochulhyup; 60 sites, by the Chukeo Yonhap.

During our study, the tenants in the eviction areas were taking a defensive stand. This was partly due to the absence of any incentives, but the major reason was the government’s divide-and-control policy, which was backed up by brute force. Article 34 of the Urban Redevelopment Act stated that the plan could be executed only if an interim-settlement complex was provided for the residents. But the SMG’s Housing Reformation Redevelopment Guide stated that the company should pay the moving provision for interim residency and not necessarily build an interim-settlement complex (Chang 1990). This enabled the redevelopment to go through without the provision of an interim-settlement complex.

Housing rights in the 1990s

Despite the ups and downs, the continuous struggles of the tenants led to several changes in the government’s provision policy. For example, permanent rental houses must now be established in the community. Despite the government’s announcement that no more provisions are possible, the persistent struggle for housing rights is sure to bring about improved provisions. The poor people’s movement for housing rights has many goals, as already noted. The Association for the Realization of Housing Rights has raised several issues, of which the following are of first priority.

Participation of the tenants

The Urban Redevelopment Act does not give tenants a mechanism for voicing their opinions on such matters as the designation of redevelopment areas and the plans for redevelopment; nor does it give the tenants permission to participate in enforcement.

The claim to interim-settlement complexes

Another problem for the tenants is the lack of interim-settlement complexes. During redevelopment, residents move to other areas, which causes much inconvenience and community destruction. If the interim settlement is a necessity for owners, it is even more essential to tenants.

The construction of redevelopment apartments takes at least 2 years. In the meantime, people need residences, but house and rent prices are much too high for people who have been evicted. One method to guarantee housing rights is to provide an interim-settlement complex for tenants. But officials of the autonomous district contend that they have insufficient budget and land to accommodate the numerous tenants.

The goal for the future is to ensure the stabilization of an interim-settlement complex before redevelopment begins. The existing law permits exceptions, in which case redevelopment may proceed without the provision of these complexes. The law should stipulate that arrangements for an interim-settlement complex must be completed by the time permission is given for redevelopment.

The protection of the tenants’ right of lease

The protection of tenants’ right of lease applies not only to squatter tenants but also to indigent tenants living in legal houses. The rising price of real estate as a result of the “bubble economy” of the late 1980s, followed by the high rents of the 1990s, jeopardized the poor. In the early 1990s, rent deposits increased by 50-100% in only a few months; a few tenants, unable to endure their economic situation, committed suicide.

South Korea has no rent act similar to those of other advanced countries. After rents rose suddenly in 1980, the government enacted rent legislation (Act 3379, 5 March 1981). But this Act has had little practical effect. Practical devices, such as the rent-coordination committees and rent-assessment process one finds in the United Kingdom, are lacking, so the law does not function as it should. The legislation must be revised to improve tenants’ welfare.


In 1992, housing rights in South Korea were still unclear. The situation was different from that in the developed countries of the West, where rent and housing acts were already established. Hwang and Yoo (1989) have outlined a lawful basis for housing rights. However, a lawful basis is meaningless unless applied in practice.

The process of obtaining housing rights in South Korea should be viewed in an historical context. From this perspective, the possibility of a completed and resolved solution is precluded — the pursuit of happiness can have no end or completion. The consciousness-raising of the poor concerning housing rights and erroneous government policies should be examined from this perspective. In this context, it is inevitable that the right to housing in South Korea will be achieved as a matter of historical progress.

Since the late 1980s, with the government’s housing-welfare provision for squatter owners, and later, with the provision for tenants, housing rights have received a higher profile and more consideration. Of course, the lack of interim-settlement complexes still requires the attention of the housing-rights and poor people’s movements. But even though this lack should be redressed in the near future, the resolution of this issue won’t be the completion of the task.

It is difficult to anticipate the future of housing rights because the reality of the housing-rights movement is characterized by improvised reactions to both coercive government pressure and dogmatic capitalist intervention. In this respect, the future of the housing-rights movement is in the hands of socially conscious groups and the affected parties themselves.

Chapter 6

Antonio Azuela

Instituto de Investigaciones Sociales, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico City, Mexico

Emilio Duhau

Departamento de Sociología, Universidad Autónoma MetropolitanaAzcapotzalco, Azcapotzalco, Mexico


The compilation of case studies of evictions in this volume should not be perceived as an overview of the situation and eviction trends worldwide. Nevertheless, the diversity of the national sociopolitical contexts represented in the studies allows us to extract important information regarding the social logic of the evictions, as well as to formulate guidelines and recommended courses of action for those faced with this situation.

Despite the enormous diversity of circumstances, events, and reasons surrounding the phenomenon of evictions, the outcome is invariably the same: the forced abandonment of housing. As can be seen throughout the studies, evictions can be the result of quite diverse causes, affecting anywhere from a few dozen families to entire populations; they basically result from the dynamics and interests of the real-estate market or from government programs and policies with little or no direct relation to the market forces; and they may result in situations of extreme physical violence or a specific and limited exercise in legal coercion.

Nevertheless, despite the wide range of possibilities, such evictions invariably imply the denial of people’s right to remain in their houses. For that reason, one of the fundamental objectives of these studies was to understand and clarify

• The social assumptions, relationships, and interests behind this denial;

• The practices and strategies developed by the affected populations;

• The processes and mechanisms by which evictions are carried out; and, especially,

• The legalization of policies and mechanisms that recognize citizens’ right to housing and, in a broader sense, their right to the city.

Recent trends in eviction processes

Despite the fact that these case studies document evictions in five economically, politically, socially, and culturally diverse countries, it is nevertheless possible to discern a basic set of elements that define the context within which evictions occur:

• The general political context (government regime);

• The degree to which the rule of law prevails;

• The forms of access to housing for vulnerable populations;

• The legal status of those forms of access;

• The predominant (political or economic) motivations for evictions or threats of evictions; and

• The forms of resistance by affected populations.

The general political context

Struggles over the right to housing play a fundamental role in determining whether or not evictions occur; such struggles can also play a role in the development of mechanisms and institutionalized rights that impose conditions on evictions. Nevertheless, an obvious conclusion from the studies is that the prevailing political regime is also a determining factor in the characteristics and scope of eviction procedures. In dictatorial or authoritarian regimes, such as Pinochet’s Chile or the apartheid government of South Africa before the reforms of this decade, eviction involved many thousands of families in a short time (65 000 families in 1979–85 in Santiago, Chile) or displaced entire populations (as when apartheid was established in South Africa in the 1920s and 1950s). In authoritarian regimes with at least partial rule by formal-democratic governments (the Dominican Republic and South Korea), evictions can reach similar proportions. In these regimes, the evictions typically result from social exclusion caused by economic development and the discretionary way that decisions are made and laws are applied.

In all of the cases, changes in the modalities and scope of the evictions, as well as the recognition of the rights entailed in the various forms of ownership of housing, were usually closely related to democratization processes: the eviction programs in Santiago, Chile, were limited to the time of military dictatorship; and the displacement of the black population in South Africa, based on apartheid, ceased with the demise of that regime. Nevertheless, the studies demonstrate that, even without qualitative changes in political regime, progress can still occur in housing rights and the rights to low-income housing and access to the city. Santo Domingo clearly illustrated this point. Dictatorships, authoritarian regimes, and the like provide favourable circumstances for large-scale evictions and the denial of the most basic rights to housing, but neither political democratization nor even a widely consolidated democratic regime, such as in Canada, guarantees exemption from the problem of evictions. To this effect, the Chilean and South African studies demonstrated how economic forces tend to substitute for direct intervention by the authorities and government eviction policies; substantial economic inequality becomes persistent; and the rights of possession go unrecognized. In other words, evictions tend to become privatized. In a democratic context, such as in Canada, although the problem of evictions is far from massive, one can note the continuing existence of sectors vulnerable to eviction processes deriving directly from economic interests. This demonstrates that notable loopholes can exist in legislation designed to protect certain forms of ownership of housing.

The degree to which the rule of law prevails

Undoubtedly, the degree to which the rule of law prevails is closely associated with the nature of a political regime. The studies demonstrated that the degree to which the formal standing legislation is actually applied affects the residents’ ability to defend themselves against eviction. Among other factors, the following are relevant to this context:

• The possibility of resorting to a judiciary independent of the executive power (a central determinant of the effective prevalence of the rule of law);

• The degree to which legal precedents influence legal decisions; and

• The existence and application of clearly defined formal limits to the actions of the authorities in matters of evictions, such as limits applied through legal petition.

During the 1980s in South Africa, the threat of a legal battle by civil organizations (combined with other forms of struggle) was a very useful instrument for getting eviction intentions neutralized or suspended. Conversely, in the Dominican Republic and South Korea, better conditions could be produced within the administrative framework itself, improving the manner in which the evictions were carried out, reducing their arbitrariness, and establishing programs and guidelines for monetary compensation. This occurred, however, without being translated into institutionalization of rights to housing and to collective basic goods and services. Therefore, although these cases represented significant progress, that progress should still be considered insufficient. The progress was in good measure reversible, depending on the discretion of the executive authorities.

The forms of access to housing for vulnerable populations

Generally, two kinds of housing tenure confer vulnerability to evictions: possession that is not legitimized by a legal process of transmission of property; and possession through the status of tenant or “guest.”

The first kind of tenure is in many cases the result of direct appropriation of housing by a new occupant (invasion). In other cases it is the result of a population’s settling in a designated location or of government authorities granting questionable title to land. In the Dominican Republic, South Africa, and South Korea, some settlements that resulted from such government decisions later became subject to eviction processes because of the governments’ relocation policies. In South Korea, as well as in South Africa and to a lesser degree in Chile, direct occupation, rather than being the advantageous appropriation of others’ property, was induced by extreme scarcity and the impossibility of having access to housing by any other means. The absence of public policies and programs designed to alleviate the scarcity of housing and the nonexistence of the right to housing are the true driving forces behind such invasions.

Tenants and guests are invariably more vulnerable to eviction than people with a legitimized form of property ownership or possession are. Even during the transition from dictatorial to democratic regimes (as in Chile and South Africa) or in a consolidated democracy where the threat of massive evictions has been neutralized (as in Canada), the status of the tenant is to some extent still precarious. The case study of Canada illustrated how a liberal democratic regime primarily committed to the unhindered performance of market forces can, under certain conditions, be indifferent to the rights of the most unprotected sectors of the population.

In Vancouver, Expo ’86 had effects on the rental housing market — more specifically, on the system of housing known as lodging houses. The most significant aspect of these evictions was the government’s perception that longtime settlers and their sense of belonging to the community in a consolidated central zone were obstacles to legitimate interests. The only tenants rights that seemed to be operating was their implied right to assistance to obtain new housing. The Expo ’86 evictions, involving the progressive replacement of rented rooms by other forms of housing and by commercial and service enterprises, expressed a virtually universal phenomenon, also illustrated by the cases in Chile, Johannesburg, and Santiago: renovation (whether gradual, planned, or wide scale) of the long-established central zone induces the disappearance of rental housing (in all forms) and, with the eviction of its residents, the disappearance of lower-income sectors.

Only in exceptional circumstances, such as when housing-reconstruction programs were implemented in Mexico City after the earthquakes of 1985, is the conservation of low-income housing a consideration in urban renovation. This tendency results precisely from the fact that, outside of a system of public housing, low-income housing invariably has a precarious status — the status of tenant housing or, as in Vancouver, the even more precarious status of guest accommodation. Undoubtedly, as demonstrated in practically all the cases included in this volume, the situation of tenants and guests is always the weakest. Their rights are the most easily omitted from or disregarded by the mechanisms and programs related to eviction processes. Their status, unlike that of occupants recognized as owners (even when ownership could be defined as irregular), tends to grant hem fewer rights and possibilities for defence against eviction.

The legal status of forms of access to housing

Different forms of access to housing imply differences in the incidence, magnitude, and characteristics of the evictions. This is because occupants of various forms of housing may or may not be accorded specific legal rights. The precariousness of settlements resulting from direct appropriation or state grants depends basically on three levels of legal circumstances.

The first is the global status of citizenship, or the degree to which a legal-political regime establishes and guarantees the equality of its citizens and protects them from arbitrary actions of the state or other parties. In South Africa, until very recently, inequality and the segregation of a large part of the population were formally established, and the application of specific housing rights was subordinate to a legal-political regime that promoted inequality. The black inhabitants of the 1950s who were forced by racial legislation to relocate could have been monetarily compensated, but they lacked any possibility of defence against the regime and its law, which denied them the right to live in the same areas as the white minority.

The second is effective legal disposition of formal norms and rights. For example, in the Dominican Republic, an effectively independent legal power does not exist, and such decision-making powers are concentrated in the government, particularly in the president. As a result, development of civil consciousness is limited. To a great degree, the characteristics and logic of the eviction process are explained by the possible forms of state intervention, which, in the absence of legal procedures, is determined by the need of the government to maintain a minimum consensus and legitimacy and by the capacity of the population, through direct action and negotiation, to block the discretional intervention of public authorities.

The third is the specific legal framework regulating property rights and forms of access to housing and to basic public goods and services. In accordance with the norms and conditions defined at this and the two other levels, a society recognizes or fails to recognize the right to housing. The recognition of housing rights — whether possession of housing derives from a state decision or from people’s occupation of the site, whether it implies the recognition of specific rights, or whether tenant or guest status provides any protection from the decisions or interests of the landlord — depends on a legal framework.

In the case studies, these three levels of legal circumstances concurred jointly in the context of evictions. At the dictatorial pole (as in Chile during Pinochet and in South Africa during apartheid), the basic premise is that state coercion functions in a global order that ignores the affected population, despite significant variation in the motives behind the evictions and the degree to which the needs of the population in question are contemplated. In authoritarian contexts (as in the Dominican Republic and South Korea), the formal existence of representative institutions and the necessity to neutralize conflicts and maintain a minimum consensus create space for the affected populations to negotiate conditions and compensations. Within such contexts, evictions tend to evolve toward the de facto recognition of the necessities and demands of the affected population. But this occurs without being translated into any increased operation of the rule of law or into formal rights to housing or access to collective goods and services. Lastly, in a democratic context (as in Canada) and in the context of democratization (as in Chile and South Africa), the question of evictions and, more generally, of the economically induced expulsion of the poorest sectors from certain areas is closely related to access to property, the existence of public-housing programs, and the legal status of tenants.

The predominant motivations for evictions

Evictions can have very diverse causes, from the dynamics of the real-estate market to the application of government policies that have little or nothing to do with the market. In cases related to rental housing or lodging (as in Canada and Johannesburg), evictions or the possibility of evictions may be directly related to the alternative opportunities for profit that the owners of rented buildings perceive. But evictions are not always directly related to real-estate interests. If, in fact, large-scale evictions have opened up the way for huge real-estate transactions (as in Santiago, Santo Domingo, and Seoul), it is because governments’ eviction policies have provided important opportunities for developers and construction companies.

However, in all the cases studied, the systematic application of eviction procedures for political reasons appeared to be the result of installing or restoring a desirable social and urban order as conceived by public decision-makers. This was true of South African apartheid, the evictions program applied in Santiago during Pinochet’s regime, and those in Santo Domingo and Seoul. In the Chilean case, it was clear that the goal was to restore a model of urban segregation that was marred by the low-income settlements existing in Santiago. In South Korea, the idea was to beautify the city and open the way for more profitable uses for well-situated land. This is a common element throughout the history of evictions policies. Santo Domingo added an element: the arbitrary application of a monu-mentalist concept of urban improvement, preceded by populist actions and improvised through the granting of lots to low-income sectors.

The forms of resistance by affected populations

Along with changes in political regime, resistance by the populations threatened with evictions is a most important condition for the recognition and extension of the right to housing.

In reading the case studies, one is particularly impressed by the progress made by the community organizations of squatters. Except in Chile, where evictions occurred over a relatively short time (and in a political context that was exceptional in the country’s history), the organizations demonstrated a growing capacity for action, although they were not always successful in achieving their goals. They not only managed to stop evictions, but also developed the capacity to formulate alternative urban-policy proposals and to get their issues into the public domain. Thus, progress was made protecting the right to housing, and thanks to the media, people’s demands were legitimized in the eyes of society as a whole.

The origins of the organizations varied exceedingly. In many cases, they arose in reaction to an eviction process. In others, the organizations already existed, as was the case with those that had formed earlier in response to rent increases.

It is necessary to mention that people affected by evictions face a large number of obstacles in trying to organize. Contrary to what might be thought, their greatest obstacle is not poverty; in countries with authoritarian regimes, it’s usually state repression. In Chile, the authoritarian military government completely prevented the formation of independent organizations of squatters. In other countries, in addition to thousands of arrests and the loss of housing, many deaths occurred during confrontations with police, and people committed suicide in the face of the severity of their situation (as in Canada and South Korea). In Santo Domingo, legal obstacles prevented the recognition of the organizations by the authorities.

Another important obstacle is cultural: such organizations have to overcome unpopularity in various ways. For example, in South Korea, they had to overcome the predominant idea of past decades that the evicted people were responsible for their poverty. In Canadian cities that were hosting or putting together a bid to host a landmark event, the organizations were looked on as selfish enemies of an urban project that would benefit the city as a whole. Although, as demonstrated by the studies, the legitimacy of their demands gained ground in public opinion, these organizations arose in an initial context of hostility toward their demands.

The division of the population into owners and tenants causes another problem. These sectors are unequally affected by evictions, and in some cases this structural differentiation within the population impedes the formation of organizations to represent the interests of an entire area or urban sector.

In the case studies, organizations varied greatly, although in every case they were territorially based, being diverse metropolitan-level groups or confederations of organizations. Also, important variations occurred within countries. In Canada, for example, Vancouver’s DERA, created in 1973, grew to 4 000 members, whereas in Calgary, associations were barely incipient. Perhaps the most notable case, as far as the number of organizations and the variety of their activities are concerned, was that of South Africa, where in Johannesburg alone the CAJ grouped together 11 different organizations. In South Korea, the names of the organizations suggest the role played by religious communities: the Catholic Poor People’s Association and the Presbyterian Poor People’s Missionary Committee. We cannot fail to emphasize the important role of churches in the organization of poor squatters. In South Korea, the Christian groups created the organizations and acted as shields against the government’s accusation that the squatters’ organizations were communist groups. A group of evicted persons being allowed to quarter in the atrium of the Myong Dong Catholic Church was an important event in the legitimization of their struggle in the eyes of the public. In Santo Domingo, without legal recognition, some organizations had to resort to forming neighbourhood councils, which had seriously inadequate results, government considered them to be organs of collaboration with the municipal authorities. This case study narrated the history of COPADEBA, formed in 1979, which had the support of priests, intellectuals, and diverse civilian organizations.

It is interesting to observe the wide variety of collective actions of the squatters through their organizations: from the classic forms of political mobilization (demonstrations, sit-ins, and the use of mass media) to those whose goal was to reduce the effectiveness of the authorities’ procedures (boycotts of rent and service charges, hunger strikes, letter-writing campaigns, and invasions of land for negotiation purposes). Obviously, some forms of struggle were not observed in every case. For example, DERA, in Vancouver, undertook research to document the situation of the affected population; created proposals to create public programs of low-income housing and legislation projects to protect tenants; organized rock concerts and boycotts of the bars in the buildings where the evictions took place; and lobbied all levels of government. In Santo Domingo, in addition to the classic forms of struggle, people rang church bells to alert neighbours of evictions, formed human blockades around threatened housing, took over offices and churches, and performed religious acts, including Via Crucis and prayer vigils. The research on that country highlighted the participation of women in the struggles of the squatters, as well as noting the cultural implications of their participation.

In most cases, no important link existed between squatters’ organizations and political organizations. Except in South Africa, where social organizations concentrated on extending political rights to the black population, community organizations were generally separate from political parties, in some cases because of the distrust they inspired (Santo Domingo), in others because of the lack of interest of the political parties (Canada), and in still others because of their prohibition at the time (Chile).

The demands of the organizations evolved from the simple defence of the possession of housing to the elaboration of urban- and housing-policy proposals. Of the cases studies, South Africa seemed to be where the organizations had the most success in influencing the modification of state structures. In addition to making the social demand for the right to housing, organizations in South Africa made proposals to reduce the effects of urban segregation and to create institutional conditions to outlaw segregation. The South African civics demanded that they be consulted about legislation and the design of multiracial municipalities. All this was within a wider demand that went beyond rights to housing to include the right to the city. Also worth mentioning is the case of COPADEBA, in Santo Domingo, which presented the People’s Proposal in 1987, after conducting field research to document the situation of the settlers in the north of the city.

Here we can observe a common element in the studies: eviction was not just about the deprivation of housing — in fact, in many cases, people’s housing situation improved. What was evident in every case was that people lost the benefits of an urban location, which included not only the collective goods found in the already consolidated sectors (services, infrastructure, accessibility) but also the social networks that provided so many elements of cultural identity, including various mechanisms of mutual assistance.

Similarly, organizations with international influence became of prime importance. The most notable cases were those of South Korea and Santo Domingo. The pre-Olympics evictions in South Korea were given a high profile on UK television, and this publicity was fundamental in consolidating the squatters’ organization. In Santo Domingo, the campaigns formulated by community groups through international organizations (including HIC and MISEREOR) led to a resolution by the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 1991, urging the Dominican government not to carry out any action that was not in conformity with the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. This undoubtedly softened the government’s attitude toward the squatters.

In short, these case studies demonstrate that organization and resistance are essential to progress in the fight for the right to housing. Changes in political regimes are also fundamental to that progress, and these changes should be viewed as providing a favourable context, but the context does not, in and of itself, produce the changes. When communities take action to defend their rights, progress is possible. But both factors must be present to mitigate the effects of evictions.

Lastly, we must note that the organization of squatters in the case studies was more than a formal process of listing demands and undertaking collective action. Throughout the process, a cultural change was produced that allowed people to modify the ways they represented themselves and their positions in society. In this sense, the consolidation of the right to housing is not only a legal phenomenon but also a cultural one: the construction of a set of representations and shared perceptions related to demands that are considered legitimate. This cultural change occurred not only in the sqatters’ perceptions of themselves but also in society’s perceptions of them. Overcoming the social stigma and legitimizing demands for the right to housing (that is, the presence of these organizations in public life) were perhaps their most important achievements.

The evolution of policies and legal frameworks

Based on the results of the case studies, the general tendencies among state policies and legal frameworks in evictions may be summarized as follows. Although evictions continued, they were carried out in ways less harmful to the affected populations. Governments and legislation began to recognize rights that a few decades earlier were considered mere concessions by the state. Progress was still quite limited, but some countries began to legally recognize their citizens’ right to housing in cases of evictions, offering improved conditions to the most unprotected sectors of urban societies.

The actions of government have always been closely related to a corresponding legal framework. This refers not only to its influence in the enactment of laws and regulations and in the organization of the public administration, but also to its influence in bringing about the institutional changes — changes that result precisely from the concrete social conditions under which the state policies are implemented. Social mobilization is also an important factor in institutional change and directly influences governments’ actions related to evictions. Thus, we may refer to a dynamic triangle formed by social resistance (discussed in the previous section), state policies, and legal frameworks.

State policies

It is important to note that when we use the phrase “state policies” in reference to evictions it is to distinguish them from “public policies.” Evictions are actions by state agencies, but they rarely reflect a clearly expressed public interest. In none of the case studies did governments invoke the interests of society as a whole to legitimize evictions, and they almost always acted on their own initiative. In addition, in none of the cases was there evidence of a social consensus approving the evictions; in other words, a true public interest for their legitimization was never expressed. Two elements in the eviction process support this idea. First is the importance of using mass communication to focus on evictions: as the public becomes more informed, this increases the probability that the evictees will be more favourably treated. Second is the fact that governments usually do not carry out evictions during the period leading up to an election, precisely because of their unpopularity.

In the case studes, the evolution of governments’ actions was extremely variable. To present a clearer idea of this evolution, we will review the main variations, or modalities, of governments’ eviction practices according to two criteria. The first is whether evictions had taken place regularly for a long time (Santo Domingo, South Africa, and South Korea up until the reforms) or were undertaken because of specific circumstances (Canada and Chile).

Of the case studies, that of South Africa undoubtedly focused on the most systematic and prolonged violation of the right to housing, in addition to violations of other human rights. In fact, millions of black South Africans were evicted from their housing during the nine decades of apartheid rule.

In Santo Domingo, the long-standing practice of evictions, common since the beginning of the 1950s, related closely to the way in which new urban areas had been created, especially in the case of those created exclusively as a result of the evictions. In the case study, some of the evicted groups were relocated to the outskirts of the city, where they were granted possession of a lot but without clearly recognized rights. Inhabitants who had originally settled in the new urban areas in an “irregular” manner were relocated to an equivalent situation. When, in time, the land they were granted became valuable for another type of urban project, the squatters again faced the threat of eviction, and they found themselves in the same legally defenceless position as at the beginning. In these cases (and Santo Domingo is not exceptional in this regard),1 we might refer to a structural irregularity in the ownership of land. This is a fundamental element in the political subordination of low-income sectors. The fact that evictions are permanent is derived from the way governments intervene in the formation of new urban areas.

Similarly, in South Korea, evictions had also been regular occurrences since the 1950s. In this case study, it was perhaps even more obvious that the origin of the evictions was the housing policies of previous governments. For example, families threatened with eviction from Sang Kye Dong had invaded the land because they had been evicted from another location. This had happened because the government had built a housing project to which they had no access, as its price was too high; 91% of the population in this neighbourhood had been forced to sell their “tickets,” the documents certifying their right to buy one of the apartments, because they lacked the necessary economic resources.

The case study of Chile portrays a completely different situation. The evictions studied in Chile were part of a special program of the military government.

1 In Mexico City, it is common to find social organizations dedicated to regularizing the ownership of land when the neighbourhoods they are in originated precisely from evictions for a public project. In this country, urbanists often say that the government is the most important source of urban irregularity.

The purpose was to reverse the situation created by the 1969–73 invasions of land, which were out of keeping with the pattern of social segregation of the city — for this regime, the presence of low-income sectors in the downtown area was unacceptable. Before this program (more than 150000 people were mobilized in less than 2 years), Chile had no history of massive evictions, nor has a similar event occurred since then. Nevertheless, this does not mean that in Chile there has been ample tolerance for the occupation of land outside of the established order; in fact, the contrary is true. In other words, although evictions only took place during a specific period, that was because, except in the one instance, the irregular occupation of the land had always been prohibited. The relation between eviction policies and institutions here was quite clear: the point of the actions was to reestablish the traditional order.

This brings us to the second criterion of differentiation among state policies regarding evictions, which is the diversity of the political regimes. The case studies clearly demonstrated that the type of political regime was the fundamental factor in the range and the modalities of the evictions. The political subordination of the low-income sectors in Santo Domingo, the exclusion of the black population of South Africa, and the expulsion of the poor from downtown Santiago were nothing more than manifestations of the different characteristics of each of the regimes prevailing in the urban arena.

Therefore, in the Chilean case, it was “difficult to imagine” (Rodriguez and Icaza, this volume, p. 51) a similar program of evictions outside of the context of the authoritarian regime in which it took place. In Santo Domingo, however, the subordination of the squatters, resulting from the lack of any legal guarantees concerning their land ownership, was part of a political regime in which permission to live in a given place was considered as being due to government generosity.

The relation between evictions and type of political regime is so evident that we might say the most notable change in the incidence of evictions is a direct consequence of changes in a political regime. In South Africa, the evictions were one of the clearest manifestations of the apartheid regime; the most significant change occurred precisely when the government announced, in 1986, the end of the urban-influx controls that had regulated the movement and settling of the black population, especially in white urban areas. The end of these controls was one of the first stages in the lifting of apartheid.

Having made these distinctions, we can note the following elements in the evolution of state policies related to evictions. The case study of South Africa reflected a more important change in a situation that had prevailed for decades. According to the study, in the last few years, courts ordered no evictions unless alternative accommodation or land was available. In many cases of settlements created through invasion, authorities were ordered not to carry out evictions.

In South Korea, the most notable change observed in government action was the recognition of the legitimacy of the demands of the evicted populations. The case study clearly showed how, a few decades earlier, resistance to evictions was strongly condemned by the government. Social organization, as well as international pressure, contributed to a change in the government’s attitude, which had tended to be that the poor were to blame for their own situation. Therefore, in addition to certain progress in the legislative area (which we discuss later), in 1986 the government began to offer options to tenants, who were in the weakest position to defend themselves from eviction. The Minister of the Economic Board offered a payment equivalent to 2 months’ average housing costs for an urban worker. In 1987, the offer was increased to include the opportunity to acquire an apartment.

Santo Domingo, however, was a case in which progress occurred despite the political regime’s having undergone no fundamental changes. On one hand, condemnation of the government halted some evictions. On the other, the government had to enter into agreements with social organizations regarding the conditions under which evictions were carried out. Thus, according to the study, the regime’s approach changed from that of “the massive, forceable evictions of 1987 and 1988 to greater and more successful use of negotiations” (Morel and Mejia, this volume, p. 152). The progressive recognition by the government of the credibility of neighbourhood organizations was another factor.

In Chile and Canada, governmental actions regarding evictions underwent no general evolution to speak of, as these occurred under specific circumstances and not over extended periods.

Generally, social condemnation of evictions intensified in cases in which governments offered no alternative housing for affected populations. However, none of the governments openly defended the legitimacy of evictions without compensation. Although this type of eviction did take place, governments recognized, whether in laws or in programs, the legitimacy of the demand for fair compensation when they engaged in evictions. This meant that the recognition of the right to housing was growing not only in the international community but also at the national level. This did not mean that clearly established guarantees against evictions actually existed. Rather, a restriction on evictions was sometimes due more to humanitarian reasons than to recognition of a legally established right. Without negating the ethical validity of such a restriction, we can say that this was usually used to manipulate the affected parties, as their defence lacked legal character. The restriction on evictions was then presented as an act of generosity by those in power.

Another general conclusion that can be drawn from the case studies is that aside from the reduction observed in the number of evictions in each country, the most evident progress was in the evolution of legal frameworks for evictions. In fact, the evolution of national legislation and the evolution of international law on the subject appeared to coincide. Gradually, countries have began to legally recognize and more clearly define the rights of persons threatened with eviction.

The evolution of legal frameworks for evictions

A legal framework for evictions is the combination of laws, regulations, and formally standing legal rules applicable to the various circumstances of evictions. It might seem strange to refer to a legal framework for evictions, but the fact is that in all the cases studied, laws or administrative regulations regarding evictions were mentioned, almost always explicitly. This does not mean that a country’s jurists recognized it as an area of regulation; as we shall see, recognition assumed diverse legal forms and, in general, was a provisional solution to an anomalous situation.

Evictions and the law

South Africa undoubtedly had the most overt legal framework for state evictions. The famous GAA — apartheid legislation par excellence — was used for decades by the government to prevent the black population from having access to areas reserved for whites. This legislation was derogated in 1991 by the ARBLMA.2

In South Korea, evictions were carried out under the Interim Housing Improvement Act, which had been in effect since 1973 but was replaced by the Urban Redevelopment Act in 1982. This institutionalized some of the progress made in the struggle against evictions.

Even in Chile, where the evictions were of an exceptional nature and were carried out within the framework of an authoritarian regime, various pieces of legislation pertaining to them were issued. Act 18.138, of June 1982, temporarily granted municipalities the power to plan and develop programs to build low-cost housing and sanitary infrastructure. This law would be the legal justification for the evictions carried out in the following years.

2 Other laws restricting poor people’s access to land, such as the Prevention of Illegal Squatting Act, of 1951, and the Trespass Act, of 1959, were still standing at the time of writing, however.

In Santo Domingo, the so-called Solares Act (Law No. 39), of 1966, granted the executive power the right to donate the lots (state property) on which low-income people had built their houses. It also recognized the ownership of the housing or improvements (mejoras) as belonging to the occupiers, whether or not the land had been transferred to them. As this case study showed, however, this legislation was not respected in practice. In eviction processes, occupants of public land were treated like trespassers.

In the case of the evictions in Canada, the laws that applied were the provincial landlord-tenant Acts. Although the content of these Acts varies from province to province, the common denominator is their lack of guarantees for tenants (who in many cases have the legal status of guests) in the event of eviction.

Only in South Korea was progress in establishing the right to housing expressed by changes in legislation. This case study clearly showed that between the mid-1970s and the mid-1980s, legislation and administrative practices gradually established better conditions for people threatened with eviction. In addition to the aforementioned legislation, a change resulting from the SMG’s guidelines is noteworthy — the recognition of land rights for occupants who had previously been considered “illegals.”

In South Korea, evictions took place as part of a housing policy that excluded some of its “beneficiaries” because of their inability to pay. Also, during that decade, the conditions became increasingly favourable for social organizations to negotiate with the government. Legislation established that arrangements for new housing had to be in place before people could be evicted. Nevertheless, South Korea’s new legislation failed to guarantee adequate protection for the sector most affected by evictions: the tenants. In 1986, compensation programs began, but the country still had no legal recognition of tenants’ rights at the time of the study.

South Africa was another country in which the right to housing was expressed in new legislation, although here it was as part of the more extensive process of abolishing apartheid. In 1991, in addition to passing the ARBLMA, the government passed the LFTEA. This Act laid the basis for providing land to low-income families, although without establishing ownership rights as such. Nevertheless, the distinct characteristic of the South African case was that the most important progress in legal protection against evictions took place in the courts, rather than in legislation. Although some laws specifically enacted against squatters were still in force, the decisions of the Supreme Court helped soften the worst effects of that legislation: the eviction of squatters, in most cases, could not occur unless alternative accommodations or land was available. It is interesting to mote that the court was giving squatters protection against the actions of a government famous for its rampant violations of human rights. Similar protection by the courts in some of the other countries studied seemed to be nullified or extremely reduced because of the courts’ lack of independence from the executive power.

The situation in Santo Domingo was the exact opposite. Although since the 1970s it had had legislation granting certain rights to squatters, no mechanism was in place for people to claim these rights. This was as much true of the squatters’ rights to the land they occupied, as of the status of their organizations, whose recognition was subject to the most ample administrative discretion. Progress in establishing housing rights occurred because of internal pressures (from social organizations) and external pressures (international condemnation of the evictions), and this translated into significant legal changes. Actually, what Santo Domingo seemed to need, in addition to legislative changes, was a profound transformation of the state structure to guarantee access to justice and the independence of judicial power. The conditions of the evictions were negotiated in the juridical context of public ownership of the land. This allowed the government to make ad hoc decisions according to prevailing political conditions.

Respect for the possession of housing and land regularization

It is worthwhile to consider to what degree the legal frameworks in the case studies served to stop evictions. It might be said that the greatest successes were in South Africa and Santo Domingo. In South Africa, progress was made possible by the intervention of the judicial power. In Santo Domingo, it was international law, that is, resolutions of the United Nations Human Rights Commission, that made it possible to end the evictions of 1990. In South Korea, legal progress was limited to changes in the conditions under which evictions could be carried out. In Canada and in Chile, people had no opportunity to block the evictions through legal processes.

Nevertheless, the mere act of impeding or stopping an eviction provides no guarantee for the future. This guarantee can only be achieved if governments grant or recognize people’s right to the land in a context in which this right is respected. This brings us to the subject of the regularization of land tenure. Although this was not the subject of this research, we should mention it in light of its increasing relevance to evictions. In a recent international seminar held in Mexico City and sponsored by the World Bank, Habitat, and the Government of France, the participants defined regularization, as it applies to squatters, as a way of “defining the contents of the right to housing.” In other words, the right to housing of “irregular” occupants of land should serve as more than merely an impediment to evictions — it should confer the same protection as property rights.

The right to housing and the right to the city

In urban contexts, providing housing per se is not equivalent to providing equal access to the collective elements of urban life. As can be observed in the studies, state eviction policies included provisions to provide housing. Nevertheless, despite the fact that housing was provided (and in some cases, better housing than that originally occupied), it was usually located on the outskirts of the city. Because of this, the populations supposedly benefiting from relocation actually experienced important losses in terms of access to basic urban services and proximity to work. The Chilean case most clearly illustrated this: the surveys showed that the great majority of those given new housing in the outskirts were clearly dissatisfied with their new location.

In addition to the loss of access to urban services, it is important to mention the dissolution of the social ties that through the years give residents a sense of identity and belonging and are necessary conditions for the true growth of any community. Thus, the right to housing should be considered within a wider concept: the right to the city. This subject was not part of our investigation, but it is relevant because in all the case studies, there were problems linked to urban segregation — the exclusion of the low-income sectors of the population. Brazil is perhaps the only country that has included the idea of a right to the city in its constitution. In Brazil, social struggles have greatly strengthened this idea.


In the case studies, the most widespread progress in the defence against evictions was the granting of compensation. As much in practice as (in some cases) in legislation, the tendency was to recognize that an eviction was illegitimate if an affected population was not properly compensated. The conditions of this compensation varied from one country to another.

Nevertheless, the possibility of preventing evictions by legal means was in almost every case extremely limited and rarely institutionalized. The exceptions to this general rule were Santo Domingo, where change occurred only because of the condemnation of the international community, and South Africa, where compensation came through court resolutions. These examples will be extremely relevant models for future struggles for the right to housing.

On the other hand, in not one single case study was it noted that the evictions were the explicit result of some duly motivated public interest (as might be the case of squatters in a high-risk or ecologically sensitive area). To carry out evictions, authorities usually cited irregular land occupancy. Therefore, the evictions were not justified in terms of the legitimate rights of others, but in terms of the lack of rights of the evictees.

Finally, despite the enormous diversity of legal contexts in which evictions were carried out, the studies point to a general condition under which a legal defence against evictions becomes feasible: the prevalence of the rule of law. In regimes in which the law is respected only when the authorities so decide, legislation and other legal devices offer little protection to low-income sectors. The people have to resort to political mobilization to defend their legitimate interests every time the threat of eviction appears. Therefore, the effective institutionalization of housing rights will depend on strengthening the rule of law. Where legal institutions are weak (as a result of a lack of access to justice, weakness of the judiciary, or other factors), the word right becomes meaningless.

This page intentionally left blank

Appendix 1


Alexandra Action Committee [Alexandra, South Africa]


Alexandra Builders’ Association [Alexandra, South Africa]


Alexandra City Council [Alexandra, South Africa]


Alexandra Civic Organization [Alexandra, South Africa]


Action Committee to Stop Evictions [Johannesburg, South Africa] Domingo, Dominican Republic]


Ayuntamiento del Distrito Nacional (National District government) [Santo


Alexandra Joint Negotiating Forum [Alexandra, South Africa]


Alexandra Land and Property Owners Association [Alexandra, South Africa]


African National Congress [South Africa]


Abolition of Racially Based Land Measures Act[South Africa]


Alexandra Residents’ Liaison Committee [Alexandra, South Africa]


Area Redevelopment Plan [Victoria Park, Calgary, AB, Canada]


Alexandra Youth Congress [Alexandra, South Africa]


Bureau of International Expositions


black local authority [South Africa]


Bread Not Circuses Coalition [Toronto, ON, Canada]


Benoni Town Council [Benoni, South Africa]


Civic Associations of Johannesburg [Johannesburg, South Africa]


commercial-building district [Johannesburg, South Africa]


community-development trust [South Africa]


Centro Dominicano de Asesoría e Investigaciones Legales (Dominican centre for legal assistance and research) [Dominican Republic]


Central Johannesburg Partnership [Johannesburg, South Africa]


Calgary Olympic Development Association [Calgary, AB, Canada]


Comité para la Defensa de los Derechos Barriales (committee for the defence of barrio rights) [Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic]


Consejo de Unidad Popular (popular unity council) [Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic]


City of Vancouver Social Planning Department [Vancouver, BC, Canada]


Development Appeal Board [Calgary, AB, Canada]


Downtown Eastside Residents Association [Vancouver, BC, Canada]


Dirección General de Bienes Nacionales (department of national properties) [Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic]


Dominican peso


East Bank Residents Association [Alexandra, South Africa]


Federation of Metro Tenants’ Association [Toronto, ON, Canada]


Group Areas Act[South Africa]


Greater Benoni Forum [Benoni, South Africa]


Gessellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit (society for technical cooperation)


Habitat International Coalition


International Development Research Centre


Independent Development Trust [Tamboville, South Africa]


International Olympic Committee


Johannesburg City Council [Johannesburg, South Africa]


joint technical committee [South Africa]


South Korean won


Less Formal Township Establishment Act[South Africa]


Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs [Chile]


nongovernmental organization


Olympiques Calgary Olympics (Olympics organizing organization) [Calgary, AB, Canada]


Prevention of Illegal Squatting Act[South Africa]


Phola Park Residents’ Committee [Phola Park, South Africa]


regional services council [South Africa]


Residential Tenancy Act[BC, Canada]


Supportive Housing Coalition [Toronto, ON, Canada]


Seoul Metropolitan Government [Seoul, South Korea]


Sandton Town Council [Sandton, South Africa]


Toronto-Ontario Olympic Council [Toronto, ON, Canada]


Transvaal Provincial Administration [Transvaal, South Africa]


Tokoza Town Council [Tokoza, South Africa]


”foment unit” [Chile]


United States dollar


Wattville Concerned Residents Committee [Wattville, South Africa]


white local authority [South Africa]


Women Plan Toronto [Toronto, ON, Canada]


Wattville Town Council [Wattville, South Africa]


South African rand


ADN-CI (Ayuntamiento del Distrito Nacional-Cooperación Italiana). 1992. Diagnostico urbano: programa de reestructuración y crecimiento de Santo Domingo [An urban diagnosis: a program for the restructuring and growth of Santo Domingo]. ADN, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Aldunate, A.; Morales, E.; Rojas, S. 1987. Evaluación social de las erradicaciones: resultados de una encuesta. Flacso, Santiago, Chile. Material de Discusión, No. 96.

Artibise, A.; Stelter, G., ed. 1979. The usable urban past: planning and politics in the modern Canadian city. Macmillan, Toronto, ON, Canada.

Báez, F. 1978. Azúcar y dependencia en República Dominicana [Sugar and dependency in the Dominican Republic]. Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Beazley, M. 1991. The railway lands, Toronto: local resistance to global change. Paper presented at the Joint ACSP and AESOP International Congress, Jul 1991, Oxford, UK. Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning, USA.

——1992. Public participation in urban mega-project planning: the developers, the planners, and the community. School of Community and Regional Planning, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada. PhD thesis.

Bennett, W. 1980. Speaking notes for Premier Bennett. Speech presented at the Four Seasons Hotel, Vancouver, BC, Canada, 29 Jan 1980. Government of British Columbia, Victory, BC.

Biagini, H.E. 1989. La identidad, un viejo problema visto desde el nuevo mundo [Identity, an age-old problem as seen from the New World]. Nueva Sociedad, 99, 96-103.

Block, W. 1986. Evictions: why all the fuss. Vancouver Province, 25 Mar, p. 17.

BNCC (Bread Not Circuses Coalition). 1990. Stop playing games with Toronto: an anti-Olympic peoples bid book. BNCC, Toronto, ON, Canada.

Board, M. 1987. McCoy vows to act on ’88 evictions. Calgary Herald, 30 Jun, p. Bl.

Boothroyd, P.; Knight, N. 1990. Regional impacts of the Northeast Coal Project in B.C. School of Community and Regional Planning, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Borowy, J. 1992. Mega-project mania: Toronto’s economic development strategy. Paper presented at the Canadian Association of Geographers Conference, May 1992, Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Calgary Herald. 1986. Students demand housing action. Calgary Herald, 11 Oct, p. B2.

——1987. Diplomacy at the York. Calgary Herald, 17 Nov, p. A4.

Campbell, C. 1984. The Stampede: Cowtown’s sacred cow. In Reasons, C., ed., Stampede city: power and politics in the west. Between the Lines, Toronto, ON, Canada.

Carr, E.H. 1967. What is history? Alfred Knopf, New York, NY, USA.

Cassa, R. 1985. Historia social y económica de la República Dominicana [A social and economic history of the Dominican Republic]. Alfa y Omega, 4.

Cattaneo, C. 1988. Tenant committee finds few infractions. Calgary Herald, 20 Jan, p. A1.

CED (Centro de Estudios del Desarrollo). 1990. Santiago, dos ciudades. CED, Santiago, Chile.

CEDA (Calgary Economic Development Authority). 1988. Calgary ... into the 21st century. CEDA, Calgary, AB, Canada.

Cela, J. 1987. Espacios urbanos y conflictos sociales: el caso de la Zona Norte de Santo Domingo [Urban spaces and social conflict: a case study of Santo Domingo’s northern zone]. Ciencia y Sociedad, 12(3), 327-359.

——1992. Con los trastes en la espalda: remodelación estatal y movilidad intraurbana [With their belongings on their backs: state-sponsored renewal and intraurban mobility]. Ciudad Alternativa, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Chang, S.H. 1989. Urbanization, the nation, and the urban poor. In Kim, H.-K., ed., Squatters and urban redevelopment. Nanam Co., Seoul, South Korea, pp. 187—239.

——1990. A case study of urban development policy in the ‘80s: the “public develop ment” of the Mok Dong area. In Korea Society Research Institute, ed., Contemporary labor problems and urban policy in Korea. Literature and Intelligent, Seoul, South Korea.

Chantada, A. 1991a. Transformación del espacio y de la sociedad en los 90’s [The transformation of space and society in the 1990s]. Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

——1991b. Medio ambiente, crisis y desarrollo: reflexión en torno a los ríos Ozama e Isabela [Environment, crisis and development: some thoughts about the Ozama and Isabela rivers]. Estudios Sociales, 24(83).

Cho, E.; Cho, O.R. 1988. The effects of redevelopment on the regional residents. Seoul National University Research Institute for Development and Population; Seoul National University Press, Seoul, Korea.

COC (City of Calgary). 1977. Victoria Park East design brief. COC Planning Department, Calgary, AB, Canada.

——1980. Preliminary impact study: proposed Coliseum and Stampede expansion. COC Planning Department, Calgary, AB, Canada.

——1988. The City of Calgary XV Olympic Winter Games final report. COC Olympic Liaison, Calgary, AB, Canada.

Coovadia, C. 1991. The role of the civic movement. In Swilling, M.; Humphries, R.; Shubane, K., ed., Apartheid city in transition. Oxford University Press, Cape Town, South Africa, pp. 334-349.

COPADEBA (Comité para la Defensa de los Derechos Barriales). 1987. La propuesta popular frente al desalojo [People’s Proposal concerning evictions]. Ediciones Populares, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

——1990. Sistema electoral dominicano: territorio y representatividad [Dominican electoral system: territory and representativeness]. COPADEBA, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Mimeo.

COT (City of Toronto). 1989a. Report on intervenor funding. COT Committee of Department Heads Olympic Task Force, Toronto, ON, Canada.

——1989b. Toronto Olympic commitment. COT Committee of Department Heads Olympic Task Force, Toronto, ON, Canada.

——1991. Cityplan ‘91 proposals report. COT Planning and Development Department, Toronto, ON, Canada.

Coutts, J.; Polanyi, M. 1990. Bidding for the spectacular. Globe and Mail (Toronto), 9 Jun.

COV (City of Vancouver). 1983. Downtown lodging houses and tenant profile. COV Social Planning Department, Vancouver, BC, Canada.

——1984. A housing program for Expo: housing Expo exhibitors and Vancouver residents. COV Social Planning Department, Vancouver, BC, Canada.

——1985. Downtown Expo housing survey. COV Social Planning Department, Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Dale, S. 1987. Flame and misfortune: should we attempt to host the 1996 Olympic Games? No way! Toronto Life, Dec, pp. 37–36.

Davis, H.C.; Hutton, T. 1992. Marketing Vancouver’s producer services to the Asia Pacific. School of Community and Regional Planning, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada.

DERA (Downtown Eastside Residents’ Association). 1987. Expo ‘86: its legacy to Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. DERA, Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Donville, C.; Haynes, D. 1987. Hotel tenants cast out for Games. Calgary Herald, 15 Nov, p. Al.

Duarte, I. 1980. Capitalismo y superpoblación en Santo Domingo: mercado de trabajo rural y ejército de reserva urbano [Capitalism and overpopulation in Santo Domingo: the rural labour market and the urban army reserve]. Colegio Dominicano de Ingenieros y Agrimensores, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

FMTA (Federation of Metro Tenants’ Association). 1990. The 1996 Olympic bid proposal and tenant protection. FMTA, Toronto, ON, Canada.

García, B.; Mejía, M. 1987. Análisis sociocultural del sector triciclero de la superpoblación relativa [Sociocultural analysis of the triciclero sector and relative overpopulation]. UASD, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Gerecke, K. 1991. Success in revitalizing the inner city — the story of DERA. City Magazine, 12(4), 11-19.

Glavin, T. 1986. Economist backs busing evictees. Vancouver Sun, 23 Apr.

GOC (Government of Canada). 1986. The Expo ‘86 general report. Department of External Affairs, Ottawa, ON, Canada.

Gray, J. 1985. A brand of its own: the 100 year history of the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede. Western Producer Prairie Books, Saskatoon, SK, Canada.

Ha, S.K. 1992. Tenants’ endeavor in housing rights and housing lease policy. In Research Institute for the Urban Poor, ed., Discussion sources of Catholic Committee for the Urban Poor’s Housing. Research Institute for the Urban Poor, Seoul, Korea.

Hall, C.M. 1992. Hallmark events: the impacts, management, and planning of event tourism. Belhaven Press, New York, NY, USA.

Harcourt, M. 1984a. Housing plan: Expo offers hope for slum-dwellers. Vancouver Weekly Post, 29 Feb.

——1984b. Housing for Expo. Mid-Town Mount Pleasant Revue (Vancouver), 30 Mar.

Hiller, H. 1987. The urban impact of the 1988 Winter Olympics: Calgary, Canada. Paper presented at the Conference on People and Physical Environment Research, Centre for Urban Research, University of Western Australia, 1987, Perth, Australia.

——1989. Impact and image: the convergence of urban factors in preparing for the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. In Syme, G.; et al., ed., The planning and evaluation of hallmark events. Avebury, Brookfield, VT, USA.

——1990. The urban transformation of a landmark event: the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. Urban Affairs Quarterly, 26(1), 118-137.

Holmes, B. 1992. The Calgary Olympic Winter Games experience. Paper presented at the 13th Annual Pacific Asian Congress of Municipalities (PACOM) Conference, 21 Jul 1992, Calgary, AB, Canada.

Hong, K.S. 1990. A study of the urban tenants’ movements in the redevelopment areas: a case study of Sa-Dang Dong, Seoul. In Korean Society Research Institute, ed., Contemporary labor problems and urban policy in Korea. Literature and Intelligent, Seoul, Korea.

Hulchanski, J.D. 1989a. Do all Canadians have a right to housing? Canadian Housing, 6(1), 5-10.

——1989b. Low rent housing in Vancouver’s central area: policy and program options. Centre for Human Settlements, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Hulchanski, J.D.; Eberle, M.; Olds, K.; Stewart, D. 1991. Solutions to homelessness: Vancouver case studies. Centre for Human Settlements, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Hume, M. 1986. Turned out: they built Canada. Now they’re uprooted. Vancouver Sun, 8 Mar, p. A10.

Hwang, I.C.; Yoo, N.Y. 1989. The poor’s rights to their houses: redevelopment and squatter tenants’ rights. In Kim, H.K., ed., Squatter areas and redevelopment. Nanam, Seoul, Korea.

Icaza, A.M.; Necochea, A.; Rodriguez, A. 1988. Políticas y programas habitacionales destinados a sectores de bajos recursos, 1960–1985. SUR, Santiago, Chile. Documento de Trabajo, No. 90.

Kang, H.B. 1986. The giant’s inheritage and yoke of our times. Kong Kan, Kim Soo-keun (Sep-Nov). Special Memorial Issue.

Kelly, R. 1986. Pattison: portrait of a capitalist superstar. New Star Books, Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Kim, H.K. 1989. Review on redevelopment experienced. In Kim, H.K., ed., Squatter areas and redevelopment. Nanam, Seoul, Korea.

Kim, Y.H. 1985. The histories of redevelopment methods. Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea. MA dissertation.

Kim, Y.S. 1988. Research on the urban poor. Sae Byuk Publishers, Seoul, Korea.

King, F. 1991. Calgary’s day in the Olympic sun. Lecture presented at an Urban Land Institute Atlanta District Council Meeting, 7 Nov 1991, Atlanta, GA, USA. Urban Land Institute, Washington, DC, USA.

KNHC (Korea National Housing Corporation). 1987. Housing handbook. KNHC, Seoul, Korea. KNHC Report.

Lamb, M. 1987. OCO says York Hotel evictions unnecessary. Calgary Herald, 16 Nov, p. A2.

Lee, D.C. 1985. Mok Dong women. Dong Kwang Publishers, Seoul, Korea.

Lee, D.Y. 1986. The evolution of the evicted people’s movements in the urban redevelopment area: a case study of Mok Dong. Yonsei University, Seoul, South Korea. MA dissertation.

Lee, K.S. 1977. A social geography of Greater Seoul. Pochinchai Printing Co., Seoul, Korea.

Lemon, J. 1991. Toronto. Cities, 8(4), 258-266.

Ley, D. 1980. Liberal ideology and the postindustrial city. Annals, Association of American Geographers, 70, 238—258.

Ley, D.; Hasson, S. 1994. Neighbourhood organizations and the welfare state. University of Toronto Press, Toronto, ON, Canada.

Lyotier, K.; Shuter, G. 1982. Housing needs and development potential in Downtown Eastside Vancouver. First United Church Social Housing Society, Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Madruga, J.M. 1987. Comunidades eclesiales de base — organizaciones populares: puntos de encuentro y posibles conflictos [Grassroots church communities — popular organizations: points in common and possible conflicts]. Estudios Sociales, 69, 63-81.

Martin, D. 1987a. Juggled tenants OK compensation. Calgary Herald, 17 Sep, p. Bl.

——1987b. Klein claims Olympic evictions “a black eye.” Calgary Herald, 19 Jun, p. Bl.

——1987c. Point McKay owners, residents looking at an Olympic bonanza. Calgary Herald, 19 Mar, p. Bl.

Mate, S. 1988. Students leaving notes for Olympic athletes. Calgary Herald, 11 Jan, p. Bl.

Mclnnes, C. 1992. The untimely death of Ataratiri. Canadian Housing, 9(1—2), 14—15.

Mercedes, A. 1991. Dinámica urbana en la década de los 80’s: concentración del ingreso, segregación espacial y exclusión social [Urban dynamics in the 1980s: concentration of incomes, spatial segregation, and social exclusion]. Estudios Sociales, 24(83).

Minovitz, E. 1985. Eviction protection on hold as Council hits deadlock. EastEnder (Vancouver), 15 Aug.

Mitchell, A. 1987. Tenants must move for ‘88 sponsors. Calgary Herald, 19 Jun, pp. Al, A2.

Morales, E.; Rojas, S. 1986. Relocalización socio-espacial de la pobreza: política estatal y presión popular, 1979–1985 [Socio-spatial relocation of poverty: state policies and popular pressure, 1979–1985]. Flacso, Santiago, Chile. Documento de Trabajo, No. 280.

Morel, E. 1991. Mejoramiento urbano: concepto, ventajas y dificultades [Urban renewal: concept, benefits, and pitfalls]. Ciudad Alternativa, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Folletos Series, No. 2.

Morel, E.; Villamán, M. 1990. Remodelación urbana, desmovilización popular y respuestas de las organizaciones populares [Urban renewal, popular demobilization, and the response of people’s organizations]. Ciudad Alternativa, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Necochea, A; Icaza, A.M. 1990. Una estrategia democrática de renovación urbana residencial: el caso de la comuna de Santiago. Instituto de Estudios Urbanos, Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile. Revista EURE, No. 48.

Olds, K. 1988. Planning for the housing impacts of a hallmark event: a case study of Expo ‘86. School of Community and Regional Planning, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada. MA thesis.

OMTR (Ontario Ministry of Tourism and Recreation). 1991. An analysis and report on the Toronto Ontario bid for the 1996 Summer Olympic Games. Government of Ontario, Toronto, ON, Canada.

ONAPLAN (Odicina Nacional Planificatión) 1983. El proceso de urbanización en la República Dominicana [The urbanization process in the Dominican Republic]. Secretariado Técnico de la Presidencia, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

ONAPLAN; ADN; GTZ (Odicina Nacional Planificatión; Ayuntamiento del Distrito Nacional; Gessellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit). 1987. Plan indicativo para el desarrollo de la Zona Norte de Santo Domingo: informe final [An Indicative Plan for the development of Santo Domingo’s northern zone: final report]. ONAPLAN; ADN; GTZ, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

OWGOC (XV Olympic Winter Games Organizing Committee). 1988. XV Winter Olympics official report. OWGOC, Calgary, AB, Canada.

Palomba, L. 1990. Toronto’s long, long road to the Olympics. Globe and Mail (Toronto), 7 Sep, p. C1.

Park, D.E. 1981. The rational reform of squatter consolidation. Provincial Administrative Training Institute, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Seoul, Korea. Research Paper. 298 pp.

Park, M.S. 1992. A study of the religious group contributing to the expansion of the poor people’s political power. In Research Institute for the Urban Poor, ed., The urban poor’s anti-eviction movements. Research Institute for the Urban Poor, Seoul, Korea.

Planact. 1992. Resource document: the reorganisation of local government in South Africa. Planact One City Research Project, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Rankin, H. 1981. Big projects hurt Downtown Eastside. Vancouver Western News, 10 Jun, p. 5.

Reasons, C., ed. 1984. Stampede city: power and politics in the west. Between the Lines, Toronto, ON, Canada.

Reid, B. 1991. The death of an inner city community: Victoria Park and its demise in the face of power. City Magazine, 12(4), 5-6.

——1991/92. The death of Victoria Park neighbourhood, the state of urban reform, and the battle of mythologies in Calgary. City Magazine, 13(1), 36-42.

Ritchie, J.R.B. 1984. Assessing the impact of hallmark events: conceptual and research issues. Journal of Travel Research, 23(1), 2—11.

Scott, J, 1992. Mountains, fun in the sun and artificial intelligence: Calgary’s economic development strategy. City Magazine, 13(2), 6-8.

SDEC (Save the Downtown Eastside Committee). 1982. The Downtown Eastside: a neighbourhood worth saving. SDEC, Vancouver, BC, Canada. Mimeo.

Shapcott, M. 1991. Effective social change through coalition: the case of Toronto’s Bread Not Circuses Coalition. Paper presented at the Learned Societies Conference, Kingston, ON, Canada, Jun 1991. Mimeo.

Shayler, J. 1986. Expo ‘86: the City Magazine, 8(2), 32-35.

SKDTC (Sang Kye Dong Tenants’ Provision Committee). 1988. Sang Kye Song Olympics. SKDTC, Seoul, South Korea. Video.

SMG (Seoul Metropolitan Government). 1978. Housing paper. SMG, Seoul, Korea. SMG Report. 213 pp.

Social Surveys. 1991. Socio-economic survey. Commissioned by Planact on behalf of the Wattville Concerned Residents Committee. Planact, Johannesburg, South Africa.

SOS (Spirit of Stampede). 1992. A brighter horizon: a citizens’ view of Stampede expansion. SOS, Calgary, AB, Canada.

Stadler, A. 1987. The political economy of modern South Africa. David Philip, Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa.

Svoboda, E. 1987. Angry tenants plan eviction protests. Calgary Herald, 22 Jun.

TOOC (Toronto-Ontario Olympic Council). 1986. Toronto as host to the 100th anniversary Olympics: a feasibility study. Prepared for TOOC by Cresap, McCormick and Paget—Barnard Management Consultants, Toronto, ON, Canada.

TRC (Tenants’ Rights Coalition). 1986. Legislative policy. TRC, Vancouver, BC, Canada/

Trivelli, P. 1981. Reflexiones en torno a la política nacional de desarrollo urbano. EURE (Santiago), 8(22).

United Nations. 1996. Report of the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II). United Nations, New York, NY, USA. A/Conf.165/14.

Vancouver Sun. 1986a. Bill won’t take blame. Vancouver Sun, 25 Apr, p. 27.

——1986b. Kempf hits reluctance of “so-called evictees.” Vancouver Sun, 14 May, p. A12.

Villamán, M. 1992. Modernidad, crisis y constitución de los sujetos políticos: diversidad de temporalidades y factor religioso, Santo Domingo, 1961—1990 [Modernity, crisis, and the creation of political subjects: diversity of temporalities and the religious factor, Santo Domingo, 1961–1990]. Estudios Sociales, 87.

Warwick, B. 1987. Tenants happy to be staying put. Calgary Herald, 17 Nov, p. Bl.

Woessner, C. 1990. The socio-demographic characteristics of Alexandra. Markinor (Pty) Ltd., Johannesburg, South Africa.

This page intentionally left blank

The Institution

The International Development Research Centre (IDRC) is committed to building a sustainable and equitable world. IDRC funds developing-world researchers, thus enabling the people of the South to find their own solutions to their own problems. IDRC also maintains information networks and forges linkages that allow Canadians and their developing-world partners to benefit equally from a global sharing of knowledge. Through its actions, IDRC is helping others to help themselves.

The Publisher

IDRC Books publishes research results and scholarly studies on global and regional issues related to sustainable and equitable development. As a specialist in development literature, IDRC Books contributes to the body of knowledge on these issues to further the cause of global understanding and equity. IDRC publications are sold through its head office in Ottawa, Canada, as well as by IDRC’s agents and distributors around the world.

The Editors

Antonio Azuela holds degrees in law (University of Warwick) and urban planning (Universidad Iberoamericana). He is currently a researcher at the Instituto de Investigaciones Sociales of the Universidad Autónoma de México in Coyoacan, Mexico, and Mexico’s Federal Attorney for the Environment.

Emilio Duhau holds degrees in sociology (Universidad Nacional de Buenos Aires) and urban development (El Colegio de México). He is currently professor of urban sociology in the Department of Sociology at the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana in Azcapotzalco, Mexico.

Enrique Ortiz is executive secretary of Habitat International Coalition (HIC) in Mexico City. HIC is a federation of over 200 community-based organizations from 56 countries, all of whom are working to defend and advance the right to housing.