LA PAH: A Handbook

Lessons for collective action from the fight for the right to housing

How should we welcome people at assemblies? How should an assembly-based, decentralized movement be organized? How can we carry out non-violent direct action? How should we negotiate with others? How can we change narratives and perceptions? How can we harness the power of the streets? Many move­ments answer these questions over time through trial and error, but PAH aims to contribute to the debate by reflecting on its own experiences and presenting them in this manual. We take a step back and analyze the practices that have allowed our movement to overcome a series of obstacles and have a far-reaching impact on Spanish society, both materially and ideologically.

If we were to highlight a Spanish movement from the last ten years with a truly global impact, it would have to be the housing movement. The Plataforma de Afectadas por la Hipoteca (PAH) (the Platform for People Affected by Mortgages) in particular has instigated a paradigm shift in terms of viewing housing as an inalienable human right and demonstrated the strength of collective action in the pursuit of greater social justice. It has shown that there are ways of making the personal political and transforming struggles based initially on personal dramas into large, organized movements that challenge the authorities and wider society.

This manual describes the essence of PAH and pays tribute to the platform’s history and efforts to obtain decent housing for all, targeting an international audi­ence that views its achievements as a ray of hope.

Throughout this manual, we will look at ways to organize a vibrant, horizontal housing movement able to transform the lives of its members. Taking a step-by-step approach fed by testimonials from PAH activists around Spain, we will set out the methods we use to organize our movement. Our aim is not just to prevent evictions, but also to encourage collective reflection on the role of housing as a public good.

We oppose big capital and the monstrous dynamics that so dramatically affect our lives. But the fight for housing paves the way to emancipation, with successes both large and small scattered along the way. We’re proud of our humble contribu­tion to this process through this “PAH: A Handbook”.

LA PAH: A HandbookPDF file