Friday, July 27, 2007

Umoja Rises!

Greetings All:

At approximately 11:00pm on Thursday, July 26, 2007, exactly three months after the devastating fire which destroyed the Umoja Village Shantytown, the Miami City Commission voted 4-0 to direct the city manager to craft a resolution to convey the land on the corner of 62nd St. and NW 17th Ave. to the residents and organizers of the Umoja Village.

The motion was sponsored by District 5 Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones. The vote on the official resolution to convey the land will happen on Wednesday, August 1, 2007 at a time to be determined.

This is a significant victory for the residents of the Umoja Village, all of Liberty City, for low-income housing in South Florida and for the entire social justice movement, particularly those engaged in land-based struggles against gentrification and for low-income housing.

The Umoja Village Shantytown was founded by Take Back the Land on October 23, 2006, and for six months housed and fed otherwise homeless people. Our political objectives are to house and feed people; assert the right of the black community to control land in the black community; and to build a new society. Residents ran and managed the village, were responsible for building and maintenance and voted on rules for the village in which they lived.

Umoja was something special, inspiring residents, supporters and visitors alike. Building the village also changed the terms of the struggle against gentrification, squarely addressing the issue of control over land as a means of addressing a housing crisis. After a fire destroyed the village, real questions emerged about what constitutes a logical conclusion to the campaign. This agreement provides some answers to those questions.

The land will be conveyed to Serve the People, Inc. and developed by Carrfour Supportive Housing with small business technical support provided by Neighbors And Neighbors Association, Inc. The ground floor of the development will be devoted to economic development, in the form of retail/commercial space, with the upper floors offering supportive and low-income housing.

While the vote and conveyance represents a significant victory for the Umoja Village, Liberty City and the broader movement, this is not a done deal. The vote did not actually convey the land, only direct the manager to prepare a resolution to convey the land. The final resolution must be approved by the commission on Wednesday, August 1, 2007. While our chances look good, we cannot become complacent.

Please keep informed about and support this important campaign. More updates coming soon!


Max Rameau
Take Back the Land
a project of the Center for Pan-African Development


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