We have to start demanding these things from the day the storms happen.
I’ve learned that it’s not just, “Oh, people just don’t know.” “If they had only seen this example, they’d take it up.” It’s a political battle. The government is spending money and making all sorts of incentives for whom? For what? As Lorena put it, for building new buildings that are owned by outside capital rather than for the current residents. We’re not just going to nice our way into having that be dominant. When things happen like what happened in Houston, Puerto Rico, what’s happening in the storms that are hitting us right now in the Carolinas, you’ve got to walk in right away with this strategy and then with absolute certainty it’s an alternative.
There are forces that aren’t looking to develop the current residents. They’re looking to develop the real estate and move the residents out…. disaster capitalism, it’s not just a mistake that people didn’t take up our form of redevelopment, it’s actually in the way. It’s a bit of a pitched battle.
The problem is that the state has invested a lot of money because it’s designated for new houses, new buildings. But the money is not getting to where the people that have the greatest needs are. And I think the government could invest more in the common people that have very low income, who have no access to buying a house, for example. But there are many other things. I think something that has impacted us from the cooperatives is that with the little money from donations and different organizations, we’ve been able to advance and achieve a lot of things. Yet, if we had more help, if the community received more help from the government, I think big things could be done and more jobs could be created for the community, which is what it most needs.
Members of The Working World, which helped start and sustain the co-ops, discuss their strategies.