Interested in joining with your neighbors to fight evictions? Democratic Socialists of America provides logistical support, training, and materials for starting a Tenant Union.
Isn’t it pointless to fight against my landlord? What can we do?
It’s not pointless. Landlords are in a very vulnerable position right now. Many landlords haven’t been able to collect full rent for several months, and if they evict everyone who missed a payment, there will be far too many empty apartments for them to fill, costing them even more money. In these circumstances it may be possible to pressure landlords to waive missed rent payments and stop evictions.
I can’t make ends meet right now. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one.
You aren’t. Millions of people across the country are being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This is painful, but it’s also a source of collective power.
Isn’t it unfair for people to not pay rent?
It’s not an issue of fairness. Landlords own rental properties as investments. Right now those landlords are losing money, as sometimes happens with investments. That doesn’t justify evicting people from their homes. We believe that housing is a human right, and we’ll fight to defend that, even if it means landlords have to take a financial loss.
What is a tenants union?
A Tenant Union is a group of people who share the same landlord. By working together, the members of a Tenant Union can make demands of their landlord. The landlord can ignore one person easily. It’s harder for them to ignore many people working together.
You’ve probably heard of “unions” or “labor unions,” which are groups of workers who join together to fight for better pay and working conditions. A Tenant Union is similar, but for people who pay rent to the same landlord. Labor unions sometimes collect money from their members, but a Tenant Union will be free to join.
What is a rent strike?
There is a lot of talk about rent strikes right now. A rent strike is when people refuse to pay rent, with the purpose of obtaining some goal. This might happen because tenants of a building want necessary repairs and maintenance to happen, or it might happen across a whole city, against rising rents. Right now many people are organizing rent strikes to fight against evictions and other unjust responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.
What is Solidarity Network?
Solidarity Network is a group of people who work together to protect people, especially those who don’t enjoy the protection of the legal system. Solidarity Network believes that by joining together (solidarity), we can create the power necessary to defeat some injustices. In the current moment we’re also open to building forms of solidarity, like Tenants Unions and Mutual Aid networks.
I think I need legal help. What can I do?
There are some legal aid options available. This is one resource: https://tenantrightsinc.weebly.com/
My landlord is telling me I should use my stimulus checks/unemployment payments to pay rent. Am I obligated to do that?
No, you aren’t. Landlords may say that “you have to pay rent if you can.” But the reality is more complicated. You may have other needs that can’t wait, like food, medicine, or childcare. You can negotiate with your landlord over unpaid rent later—food and medicine are needed now.
My landlord is threatening to change the locks in my apartment or shut off the gas/electricity/water. Is this ok?
This is illegal. Landlords cannot legally lock you out, unless they have an eviction order. And during the crisis utility shut offs are not allowed.
We have every reason to believe that some landlords will try to evict tenants without legal authorization. They may try to scare or intimidate you. If this happens, please let Solidarity Network know and we’ll try to help you fight back. 919-391-0287 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Solidarity Network is us. We are an inclusive group of community members organized around the principles of mutual aid—that is, with supportive care for and in communion with each other.
The COVID-19 crisis is a moment of heightened uncertainty and, for many, unprecedented levels of insecurity. The pandemic has both introduced new threats to the well-being of community members, and exacerbated old ones. Solidarity Network exists to respond to exactly these types of threats.
We support and see common cause in many efforts. We recognize that in this time, support with housing is a singularly important issue that requires a community solution. We are coming together around the concept of housing as a human right, placing the value of life above the value of profit and property, seeking solutions which empower those traditionally disempowered and refusing to replicate patterns of oppression
We recognize that housing is basic and deeply intersectional with issues of LGBTQ and gender oppression, racism, immigration, disability and other systems which divide and devalue humans.
These resources are the ways this type of work is happening. We are not doing this alone—this community work both requires and lends itself to collaboration. Some of it happens in informal groups, some in formal settings, some in pre-existing structures, some in new outgrowths. Together these nodes address the issue from different angles geographically, politically and practically.