In the past months millions have lost their jobs and many more have had their hours cut due to the social crisis of COVID-19. These conditions in many ways have fueled the wave of protest and uprisings against anti-Black racism following the murder of George Floyd. And now a new crisis looms as millions have been unable to pay their rent or mortgage and many cities are lifting moratoriums on eviction and reopening eviction courts. We need to stay home to fight this pandemic but many are running out of money – we need food, we need our 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.
- Get Organized – Autonomous Tenants Union Network. A directory for getting connected to tenant union organizers in your region.
- 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.
Weekly Office Hours With Autonomous Tenants Union Network – The Autonomous Tenants Union Network (ATUN) hosts office hours every Monday and Thursday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. PST. ATUN organizers can provide helpful guidance on organizing with your neighbors.
Follow the link and click on ‘office hours’ in the calendar.
- 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.”