In support of #RentStrike2020 & Housing Actions against covid-austerity worldwide
In the past weeks, comrades around the world have been fighting housing injustice amplified by the Covid-19 pandemic. From mutual aid groups to coalitional campaigning, local networks are organizing to cancel rental payments, cancel utility payments, ban evictions, shelter the houseless, and protect the many from the loss of income and job security. This is often done in precarious conditions, with scarce resources available due to decades of austerity measures and capitalist economics imposed upon residents globally.
In an effort to maintain the established social order, many countries’ authorities have implemented exceptional measures, including partial bans on evictions and some financial support for workers affected by the crisis. In only two cases governments have responded by suspending all rent payments: for 3 months in El Salvador and for 6 months in Venezuela. But we have no illusion about their efficacy. The strict temporality and limited reach of these interventions is not accidental: their role is to preserve the infrastructure of the neoliberal housing machine for the post-covid new order, not to challenge its foundation. Much more is required at these unprecedented times.
At the Radical Housing Journal, we support the rent strike called for the 1st of April by comrades in the USA, which reflects the position already taken by other groups in countries like Spain (#HuelgaAlquileres), Canada and Australia. We believe that this is an important first step in breaking through new austerity in-the-making, and we support real collective strength brewing from below.
Following the slogan, “If you can’t pay, don’t pay!,” we invite you to support the rent strike, reach out to local movements, join the April 1st action if you can. We also invite you to join the conversation on Twitter and other platforms. For more information, please look at this helpful resource list (USA, Canada, UK, Australia). You can also fill out this form if you are planning on going on rent strike and are looking for more support or to connect with your neighbours.
We are conscious that a rent strike is not a relevant strategy for many comrades living in different housing and material regimes across the globe, for instance where informal tenures predominate, where punitive state responses are likely to ensue or where individuals within a household face violent forms of gendered discrimination. We raise this point to highlight the need of thinking through and across a variety of housing geographies in order to demand housing justice during the Covid-19 pandemic. We also recognise that rent strikes are not a panacea to the unequal and often violent gendered impacts that staying at home- with or without rent- can have for many individuals across societies. These are critical issues that we will discuss further in our upcoming Issue 2.1.
For now, stay tuned on our website for the launch of our third issue (May 2nd, 2020), follow us on Twitter, and support #RentStrike2020!
The RHJ Editorial Collective