Trump and the CDC passed a dramatic, last-second measure to halt evictions until December – what comes next for our movement?
The temporary ban on evictions is too late, and far too little. Thousands have already been forced from their homes after losing income during this pandemic. The number of renters currently at risk of eviction – between thirty and forty million – has not changed. They’ve simply been put on hold until December. As soon as the ban expires, struggling renters will be on the hook for rental debt potentially dating back to March. Families desperate to avoid eviction have been using credit cards and payday loans to make the rent; these financial burdens will last well beyond 2020.
Trump is the last person we can rely on to protect renters. His million-dollar real estate empire, notorious for discrimination against Black renters in the 1970’s, has lined his and his family’s pockets from decades of extracting profit from working people. Only weeks ago, his administration went on the offensive against the Fair Housing Act of 1968 that protects renters against discrimination.
And yet, the Senate and most Democratic governors have failed to provide even the bare minimum that Trump and the CDC have authorized. Our ruling class is stuck between a rock and hard place, with renters crying out for help on one side, and corporate politicians’ ties to landlords and real estate on the other. Neither Democrats or Republicans are up to task.
If the CDC order tells us anything, it’s that we need to step up the fight for real relief! The deepest housing crisis since the Great Depression will take more than a band-aid: we need bold new policies that can only be won through a mass movement. Now more than ever we need to cancel rent, mortgage, and utility payments, and we need to tax the rich and big business to pay for it! Without taking this step, not only will millions of renters lose their homes and be trapped by mountains of unpayable debts, but the entire housing system could collapse without massive public investment in high-quality social housing!
There is one hope in this situation, and it is renters getting organized ourselves. Since this pandemic began, renters in cities across the country have taken up organizing in their buildings and neighborhoods. We have started to see what we can win when we organize – buildings have won rent reductions and cancellations, and founded new tenant unions that will serve as critical lines of defense in the coming months.
Trump and the ruling class are afraid of what could happen if renters join forces and demand the relief we need and deserve. Let’s show them that we can!