september organizing call discusses next steps for the rentstrike movement

By | April 30, 2021

Did you miss the call? Register now for our next meeting on October 1st! In the meantime, you can support our movement by pitching in $15 to Rent Strike 2020.

Over 30 people from 12 cities across the country joined Rent Strike 2020’s September organizing call! A central part of Friday’s discussion was Trump’s executive order, prompted by the CDC, which extended a sweeping new ban on evictions in all rentals through the end of 2020. This is absolutely a victory for the movement and will save many renters from eviction in the coming months. It shows us that the ruling class is scared of what’s possible when renters get organized and fight collectively!

While this order should help keep people in their homes, it is not nearly enough. With the hoops that people have to jump through in order to qualify for the order’s protections, there are going to be many tenants slipping through the cracks, and many who already are. The number of renters at risk of eviction – between 30 and 40 million – has not changed, but the process has been postponed to avoid total chaos throughout the fall. Trump’s short-sighted measure is kicking the can down the road for millions of renters.

In cities all over the US, there are still thousands of eviction cases just waiting to be heard in court come January 1, and people are still facing illegal backdoor evictions. Rental debt is piling up – not only will people have massive sums to pay in full come the end of the year, but many renters are racking up credit card debt, dipping into minimal savings, selling valuables, and taking out high-interest loans. The rent is still due, late fees are not banned, and on top of this, landlords can still exploit loopholes in the ban and evict on the basis of petty lease violations. Landlords can even take their tenants to court to argue the tenant is “not covered” by the ban, and if the tenant is not able to prove to a judge that they qualify, they could be fined or even jailed.

Against the backdrop of these insufficient measures, Friday’s call highlighted the organizing that is happening all across the country! Renters are uniting in their buildings to fight against their landlords and forming tenant unions for the first time. Local campaigns are being taken up in cities and in neighborhoods inside cities, people are occupying eviction court and staging protests, and eviction defense is happening on the ground to keep people in their homes. All of these tactics will be needed in order to win any semblance of gains during this time, as we have seen that politicians are not doing it for us!

We were in a housing crisis long before COVID-19. It’s past the point where we can have an easy fix. What we need now are bold measures like rent cancellations, cancelling back rent owed, and banning late fees. As renters fall further and further behind on their rent and politicians do nothing to truly address the underlying threat of mass evictions, we know our organizing will have to continue!