Renter Week of Action in Pictures

Close-up of the back of a t-shirt that says "Because the rent won't wait."
Photo credit: Kendra Sundvall

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.

People seated in circle within a larger circle in a library-type room.
Photo Credit: Kendra Sundvall
Chicago, Illinois

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.

A man in front of a banner speaks into a microphone.
Photo Credit: Autonomous Tenants Union
Photo Credit: Autonomous Tenants Union.
Minneapolis, Minnesota

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.

Aerial shot of people gathered in city hall lobby.
Photo Credit: Roberto de la Riva
People gather at city hall.
Photo Credit: Kendra Sundvall
Nashville, Tennessee

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.

Marchers walk down a street.
Photo Credit: PATHE Coalition
Two small children holding up a flag that says 'Justicia.'
Photo Credit: PATHE Coalition





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.”

Auditorium full people listening to speakers.
Photo Credit: Leticia Arce

People seated at classroom desks.
Photo Credit: Mike Dennis

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Shelterforce is the only independent, non-academic publication covering the worlds of community development, affordable housing, and neighborhood stabilization.


  1. And how are we, as two single moms, in poverty level income, to acquire a home which is not going to displace us from the schools our children attend, and become financially self sufficient.
    There are plenty of homes being rented in northern California for (1) large cash deposits for renting residential homes strictly for processing marijuana with a large crew
    (2) large cash deposits for renting houses/property to grow marijuana whether it is indoor, outdoor, depo or all of the above
    (3) large sums of money paid out for short term vacation rental homes.

    For the management companies who are not involved in this sort of businesses, there are anywhere from 20-40 applications on file with people qualified, who are actively seeking rentals and meanwhile there are empty houses scattered all over the country that banks have foreclosed on and no one can rent them. No place should be left empty for more than a year on the market before the owner, banker or private, should consider the needs of those who they encounter on a daily basis. Pretty pathetic that in this country where we are always building, manufacturing, progressing, yet we have families who have to live in their cars, who skip meals to pay for a motel room so they can shower and families who are functional respectable and losing hope of ever getting a good night’s rest.

    And all the while the stock market is on the rise!!!

    This is pathetic and the housing crisis across the entire country is going to cause civil unrest!!! The price of food, shelter and clothing is more than the income. How do we survive this without becoming the criminal that is brewing inside?

    People look around…
    Look at the house you’re in…
    Looks like a nice comfortable place…
    Now take a look at Detroit…
    Really Hot out there, ya think….
    How’d it get so out of control… Take away the security of a shelter from the weather, a place to cook a meal, a warm shower and what you will get is more and more UNREST


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