By all available measures, the crisis for renters has gotten worse over the last year.
51 percent of all renter households now pay rent that is unaffordable to them. An analysis shows that if U.S. renters paid only what they could afford on housing (30 percent of income), they would have an extra $124 billion to spend on basic necessities like food, transportation, healthcare, and education.
This past week, renter advocacy groups staged coordinated demonstrations in over 45 states to disrupt business as usual, including stand-ins at the personal residences of corporate landlords, banner drops, neighborhood tours of the housing crisis, and creative actions at city halls.
“Our communities are under constant attack. From policies of mass deportation and incarceration to gentrification and mass evictions, we are facing displacement in many forms. Renters have had enough. In 2016, we declared a ‘national renter state of emergency’ and mobilized the power of the emerging Renter Nation,” says Right To The City Boston organizer Darnell L. Johnson. “This year the mood is even more militant. The Renter Week of Action and Assemblies will be a wake up call that we’re organized, we’re powerful and we won’t back down.”
With the help of #RenterWeekofAction convener Right to the City, Shelterforce has compiled photos from several such demonstrations throughout the country in order to highlight the size and scope of this movement.
St. Paul, Minnesota
St. Paul renters held assemblies during the #RenterWeekOfAction to explore the connection between gentrification, schools, and education. Over a third of students at Maxfield Elementary in St. Paul, where the assembly was held, have experienced homelessness in their elementary school years.
Chicago renters demonstrated at the offices of Silver Properties. The company has refused to negotiate with their newly established tenant union, and is raising rents and refusing to improve unit conditions and make repairs.
On Friday, September 22, Minneapolis renters held a rally at City Hall to call for Rent Control and build energy and support for a statewide campaign to lift the ban on Rent Control.
Nashville renters held a demonstration inside city hall after marching for 3 days to call for community control over transit oriented development and a community benefits agreement for the city’s proposed Motion Train project.
The Renter Week of Action culminated with renter assemblies across the country, including in California where 500 renters convened for a historic renter assembly to share organizing skills and strategies to build on a string of rent control and eviction protection measures won over the past year. They are gearing up for a campaign to overturn their state’s restrictions on stronger rent control, a law known as “Costa-Hawkins.”