Toward a life with dignity

Housing struggles and new political horizons in urban Chile

by MIGUEL PÉREZ

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In the last decade, poor urban residents in Santiago, Chile, have powerfully struggled for the right to housing. They have done so by enrolling in neoliberal housing programs through which they seek to become homeowners by both saving money privately and applying for subsidies. In a context in which market‐based urban policies have contributed to the segregation of low‐income families in the city's peripheries, the right to la vida digna (life with dignity) has emerged as the new political horizon of these struggles. As a right based on a moral category like dignity, la vida digna reveals the actions and discourses through which the poor, while becoming ethical subjects, signify their everyday experiences with vulnerability in political terms.

Activists with the Don Bosco housing assembly, most of them women, protest in front of the Palacio de la Moneda, Chile's presidential palace, to demand more subsidies for the poor, October 2013.
Activists with the Don Bosco housing assembly, most of them women, protest in front of the Palacio de la Moneda, Chile's presidential palace, to demand more subsidies for the poor, October 2013. (Photo: Miguel Pérez)