The Housing Assembly (HA) was founded following a series of activist workshops facilitated by ILRIG. It is currently operating in the Western Cape, in communities like Tafelsig, Gugulethu and Blikkiesdorp. With many of the activists coming from different areas, housing types and organisations, the need for an organisation that mobilises across the different housing types was seen as an alternative to individual communities and organisations fighting for housing in their separate corners.
The organisation was formed by activists who were victims of evictions, and lived in informal settlements, backyards, rented dwellings and badly built RDPs. All those who live in insecure, unfit, overcrowded and bad housing and living conditions became the section of society HA mobilises; especially reaching out to youth, women, disabled, the elderly, the sick and the workers (amongst others) to become members.
The organisation is divided into six districts (Khayelitsha, Mitchells Plain, Wider Athlone, Northern Suburbs, Southern Suburbs and Witzenberg), that are made up of several areas and different housing types. Each district has a leadership of four (education, media, finance and convener). The organisational structure is made up of the executive committee, the steering committee, the coordinating committee; where 15 delegates per district can hold the leadership accountable to its members, and an annual general meeting. District leadership are elected in district meetings and office bearers in AGMs, but can be reshuffled by the coordinating committee which is held three times in between AGMs.
The organisation has regular grassroots door-to-door awareness raising activities, petitioning, leafleteering, speak-outs, and area meetings. Through these activities HA is initiating a ‘Decent Housing For All’ campaign. As the housing backlog rises annually and government policies on housing are changing from solid structures to sites-and-services and upgrading, a campaign that is linked to other working class issues like transportation, unemployment, prepaid water meters, service delivery, etc is necessary.
As housing is an issue faced not only in the Western Cape or South Africa, HA strives for a militant and collective struggle or campaign for housing. This is why HA also works with organisations in the province, nationally and internationally; such as Thembelihle Crisis Committee, Right2Know, Surplus Peoples Project, Amandla Centre of Zimbabwe and Autonomous Tenants Union, amongst others.
Using the approach of popular education through workshops, HA conscientises its members on the housing crisis, alternatives and policies; and against the divisions amongst the working class like racism, sexism and patriarchy. HA holds workshops across constituencies, communities and housing types and promotes and defends the interest of the working class, and leadership by women.