Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we had to find new ways to organize and keep in touch with our neighbours and other tenants. The poster featured in this article has allowed us to reach out to new neighbourhoods and build solidarity with more tenants facing evictions. Get in touch with us if you’d like some to poster in your neighbourhood!
If you are rent striking, or facing an eviction and refusing to leave your home, contact us at 604-630-1722 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On March 25th, the provincial government announced a halt on evictions for unpaid rent during the COVID-19 crisis. That means if you can’t pay your rent, stay in your home!
The crisis caused by COVID-19 is not new. It is an intensification of the multiple crises working class and Indigenous people already face, rooted in capitalism and colonialism. While the state is willing to mobilize resources to protect the health of a few, low-income people are denied proper health care or treated as a health threat to be monitored and controlled. The service work done predominantly by racialized women is celebrated as essential, yet wages remain low and working conditions dangerous. In the middle of a global pandemic, Canada continues to subsidize the theft and destruction of Indigenous lands through multi-billion dollar bailouts for the oil and gas industry.
Housing is no different. Rather than put an end to rent, the province has chosen to subsidize landlord profits. The province’s “tenant relief” is a direct payout to landlords and the ban on evictions has more to do with keeping the deadly cycle of the market intact than protecting tenants, as it threatens us with eviction following the ban if we don’t plan to continue lining the pockets of our landlords.
Rent is not payment for a service landlords offer us. It is theft of our income, made possible by the private ownership of property that allows landlords to exploit our need to have a roof over our heads for their own profit. Landlords have stopped doing maintenance, if they ever did it in the first place and most banks have suspended mortgage payments. Yet we are still told to pay rent.
Now is the time to say enough! By collectively withholding our rent in a rent strike, we can challenge the market that puts landlord greed before human need.
Not paying rent without a threat of immediate eviction is possible today, when it was not yesterday, because of the political crisis caused by COVID-19. By temporarily suspending evictions, the government has taken away the most powerful weapon our landlords have – the power to throw us out of our homes. This gives us more power to organize our buildings and fight back.
When the pandemic is over, the NDP will try to push everything back to “normal” as quickly as possible. This will mean not only a return to the ongoing crisis of evictions and income-stealing rent, but potentially a mass eviction of those of us who couldn’t pay rent. A rent strike is our best chance to stop this. We can stand in solidarity with our neighbours who cannot pay and put an end to the insecurity and exploitation all tenants face. Landlords can evict one person who doesn’t pay rent, but they can’t evict a whole building or neighbourhood.
The temporary ban on evictions gives us space to organize individual struggles to pay rent into a collective anti-eviction movement.
Poor Indigenous and working class communities will only survive COVID-19 if we fight back together!