In the past month 10 million people have lost their job and many more have had their hours cut due to the social crisis of COVID-19. Millions will be unable to pay their rent or mortgage April 1st and even more on May 1st. We need to stay home to fight this pandemic but many are running out of money – we need food, we need out health, we need to be at home to help our families. Yet landlords and banks still expect us to pay.
We believe that it is essential to politicize the current moment and pose collective action and organization as our response. We need to support renters forming and joining tenant unions, we need to support worker demands for safety and higher pay, and we need to use mutual aid efforts to meet daily needs and connect to larger demands and struggles. Only by strengthening popular organization can we survive the current crisis and be well placed to push forward our struggles after the pandemic has passed.
Below are organizing guides put forward by key tenant unions in the U.S. and Canada followed by events and additional recommended resources.
- Food Not Rent! Rent Forgiveness Guide – Los Angeles Tenants Union. Step-by-step guide for those who cannot or are refusing to pay rent. English/Spanish.
- The Tenants Will Win: TANC Pandemic Organizing Guide – Tenants and Neighborhood Councils, CA Bay Area. A quick guide with principles, strategy, resources and basic organizing steps.
- COVID-19 Organizing Guide – Philadelphia Tenants Union. A nuts-and-bolts organizing around tenant organizing and leadership building.
- Keep Your Rent: Organizing Materials – Parkdale Organize, Toronto, Canada. Guides, posters and FAQs based around the #KeepYourRent campaign.
- #CancelRent Organizing Toolkit – Autonomous Tenants Union, Chicago. Basic organizing resources, legal guide, tactics zine, along with Chicago specific resources. English/Spanish.
- Rebel Steps Podcast on COVID-19 and Rent Strikes. An audio guide with interviews on rent strike organizing that you can share with your neighbors.
- Sample Letter to Your Landlord. Copy this text and customize for your landlord, state and situation.
- How to Research Your Landland. Handy guide with resources on researching your landlord and what other properties they might own.
North American Tenants Townhall on Saturday April 4th – Webinar open to all tenants with basic tools for organizing your neighbors into a tenants union hosted by the Autonomous Tenants Union Network (ATUN). Saturday, April 4th.
Workplace Organizing for Long-Term Power During COVID-19 – Essential workplace organizing training via webinar hosted by the New York City IWW. Tuesday, April 7th.
Tenant Organizers Panel – Discussion on the current political moment with tenant organizers from across the country hosted by Black Rose/Rosa Negra. Date: Friday, April 10th. Click here and RSVP your spot.
- How to Form a Neighborhood Pod for Mutual Aid organizing
- Mutual Aid Directory by IGD
- Can I Get Fired for Talking about Virus Risks? By Labor Notes
- Resources on Tenant Organizing, Housing and Gentrification by BRRN
- Care in the Time of Coronavirus – Asian American Feminist Collective
If you enjoyed this content we recommend “Lifting the Mask of Capitalist Disaster: The Coronavirus Response” and “Coronavirus Stories: Crisis, Response, Resistance.”