Philippine Housing Takeover

How the urban poor claimed their right to shelter

Hazel M. Dizon

Published in Issue 1.1 // Retrospectives


On 8 March 2017, the Philippine urban poor marched to Pandi, Bulacan calling for their right to housing. Dubbed “Occupy Bulacan” and led by KADAMAY, the takeover succeeded in occupying 5,300 socialized housing units in the area. Prior to the takeover, 15,000 public housing units in Bulacan were deteriorating from disuse while thousands of families were living as homeless or relegated to informal settlements. Citing difficulties in acquiring decent housing, together with the availability of idle houses, KADAMAY members were compelled to take matters into their own hands and staged a takeover. Despite disapproval from various entities, KADAMAY remained steadfast in its stance. One year later, the Philippine Congress signed a resolution prompting the state housing agency to award the housing units to qualified “occupiers.” This level of victory had never been reached since the “golden years” of the Philippine urban poor movement in the 1970s. Here I describe what is possibly the largest organized takeover of government-built housing in the global South, with an emphasis on the ensemble of tactics and strategies that KADAMAY employed. This consists of the “arouse, organize, mobilize” (AOM) strategy, a “repertoire of contention”, and a “repertoire of strategies”. I also contextualize the takeover within local and international economic and political conditions, situate KADAMAY’s place in the urban poor movement, and identify other factors that led to the takeover’s success.

Hazel M. Dizon – Department of Geography, York University

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