Esperanza promotoras and many others attend action at City Hall.

A cohort of nine community-based organizations and community residents rallied around City Hall on Thursday to celebrate Human Rights Day 2009. On December 10, 1948, members of the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Sixty-one years later, in single file form, two hundred people marched through the farmer’s market and encircled City Hall. We called for our mayor and the City Council to prioritize one main issue: that housing become an inalienable right for Angelinos.

As we gathered around the Christmas tree adorned with big presents and bright lights (see image below), some stuck their picket signs in the wrapped boxes hoping to receive the gift of secure housing this holiday season. Korean drums could be heard amongst car honks and foot traffic on another “business as usual” downtown day. But for us, the action symbolized a unity of cultures, races, and organizations that marched for changes in housing policy.

Sadly, in Los Angeles, low-income families and individuals have been subjected to harassment from landlords, housing insecurity, gentrification, homelessness, and forced evictions. Although City Hall fails to uphold the principles of the UDHR, on Thursday many of us were saying “si se puede, yes we can” have the right to housing.

We ended the action under the Sister Cities post, on the corner of 1st and Main. (see image below)Residents shared testimonies with their experiences with housing and homelessness.  One woman said “I was one of these stuck up people with their head up their you know what, until homelessness hit me” after that she decided she would “fight for this her whole life.” Her and many others understand the gravity and urgency of “housing as a human right”, and to secure this right for all Angelinos we will continue to fight for years to come.