Can't Pay Rent!

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If you couldn't pay your rent on May 1st you are not alone. We’re stronger together and now is the time for tenants to act collectively. Millions not paying rent doesn’t build power by itself; we only build power by making our individual actions public and collective! By joining this movement, we are making a coordinated demand for relief.

The COVID-19 crisis is making clear what many tenants have known for a long time: we are all just one life event – the loss of a job, a medical emergency – away from losing our homes. Today, millions of New Yorkers are out of work. That means millions of us will be unable to pay the rent.

The 92,000 New Yorkers who were already homeless before COVID-19 are struggling to survive in an overburdened and under-resourced shelter system. For New Yorkers experiencing homelessness, calls to “shelter at home” are cruel and meaningless.

In the weeks since Governor Cuomo declared a State of Emergency in New York, we’ve been calling on our state leaders to #CancelRent and invest in housing and life-saving services for New Yorkers experiencing homelessness. We’ve been talking to our neighbors, collecting signatures on a petition to Governor Cuomo, and telling our stories online.

Our demands:

  • Cancel Rent for four months, or for the duration of the public health crisis – whichever is longer.

  • Freeze Rents and offer every tenant in New York the right to renew their lease. No one’s rent should go up during this epidemic.

  • Reclaim Our Homes. Urgently and permanently rehouse all New Yorkers experiencing homelessness and invest in public and social housing across our state.

So far, these demands have been ignored in Albany. Our state leaders have done nothing to address the fact that millions of us can no longer afford our homes.

On May 1, many of us couldn't pay our rent -- so we didn't! The crisis has caused a reduction in income for many of us, and the government response has been to shore up banks, large investors, and landlords. If we can’t pay, let’s not pay, together!

What is mass non compliance?

If you’re an individual who can’t pay rent, mass non compliance means making your actions public! Signing this pledge, telling your story and putting pressure on the state to meet our demands! Your collective and public action is what makes your individual inability to make rent, part of a call for mass non compliance.

What is a rent strike?

A rent strike is a powerful tactic that tenants have used for centuries to win everything from concessions from their landlords to large-scale policy changes. When a tenant individually does not or cannot pay their rent, they are withholding their rent. When we choose to take that action collectively, in solidarity with others in the housing movement, we are on a rent strike. Rent strikes can be building wide, neighborhood based, or landlord based.  

Rent strikes are not new. In moments of crisis, strikes are how no income, low income, and working class people have won immense victories.

No matter what path, we and our neighbors will be better protected and more powerful if we take action together, rather than alone.