| Feb 12, 2024
As elections approach...
As elections approach, nonprofits must add to the public discussions on the issues we know and are passionate about. Throughout the last decade, Ayuda Legal Puerto Rico has obtained valuable expertise on housing issues, emphasizing foreclosures, evictions, and access to disaster assistance. Our work accompanying thousands of families navigating complex legal processes gives us an essential perspective on the pitfalls, obstacles, and failures of structures and systems that often fail to secure housing.
These last few years have brought us closer to one central issue regarding foreclosure prevention. In the following months of heavy debate, avoiding these topics would mean losing the long-term battle to displacements based on the power disbalances between families, financial institutions that profit from right violations, and the government that decides to remain oblivious to the housing crisis.
For years, we have heard different sectors dedicated to housing as a business argue that self-regulation is sufficient. That's not true. Not even the multiple laws that establish parameters for the operation of financial institutions or the supposed autonomy in contracting between landlords and tenants prevent violations of the right to housing that expose families to displacement. Assuming that the matter has already been addressed or that it is a matter of private relations in which the government should not intervene, it has been a carte blanche to delay the approval of measures that prohibit discrimination in access to housing and that would forbid foreclosures amid emergency declarations. Every government platform must commit to analyzing the functioning of the agencies called upon to supervise financial institutions so that they are effective in their work, free of partisan pressure or political investors. Likewise, any government policy that includes subsidizing or establishing mechanisms to enable their businesses – including the creation of incentives, the allocation of disaster assistance, and the existence of complex mechanisms that perpetuate power disbalance at courts and elsewhere– must come hand in hand with an oversight strategy.
We incorporate this call in our legal work by requesting information and demanding non-discriminatory practices, communications in Spanish, and transparent access to records, as well as accountability for the treatment of elders or domestic violence survivors. But we need more official commitment so our family-by-family work can translate into durable change. As you continue to support Ayuda Legal Puerto Rico, we ask you to bring conversations about our work and the urgency to transform housing justice. The moment is now.