Umoja Village on NY Times
The link below is the New York Times (yes, that NY Times) story on the Umoja Village Shantytown in Liberty City:
The Umoja Village Shantytown was started on October 23, 2006 in response to the crisis of gentrification and lack of low-income housing and the local government's role- particularly Miami-Dade County- in exacerbating the crisis. Bad public policy and the outright stealing of money earmarked for the poor by Miami-Dade County has made a bad situation worse. A group, calling itself Take Back the Land, took control over a vacant public land, which formerly housed a low rent apartment building, and built a full-blown shantytown in the US. There are currently over 40 residents who sleep and eat there.
The shantytown is protected by the landmark Pottinger Settlment, in which the city of Miami conceeded that it was not a crime to be homeless. Therefore, anyone who is homeless, when there are no free shelter beds (which is everyday), and on public land, cannot be arrested for engaging in "life sustaining conduct," such as eating, sleeping, bathing, responding to calls of nature and building "temporary structures" to protect one from the elements.
A key component of this model is that the residents must run their own village, doing most of the work, providing security and making decisions through consensus during group meetings.
In addition, check the newest Youtube.com documentary on the shantytown:
Visit our blog for all of the latest updates, including a new media coverage list:
Of course, you can always make a much needed donation via our paypal account:
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Take Back the Land
a project of the Center for Pan-African Development