Thu, Apr 30 at 7 p.m. | 75 minutes | BYOB!
Olios: Drop-in classes led by professors
New York City is seeing a surge of housing justice organizing, spurred by the social and economic impacts of the pandemic. In March, tenants successfully won a 90 day eviction moratorium. And, calls for rent cancellation, bolstered by militant tactics, like rent strikes, are intensifying. The foundation for all this activity are grassroots coalitions, organized fairly recently to respond to specific housing and anti- displacement issues, including strengthening the State’s rent regulation system and resisting Amazon’s plans to develop a headquarters in Long Island City, Queens. Contemporary calls for housing justice are also rooted in a much longer movement history, from turn of the century rent strikes intertwined with Jewish working-class anarchism and socialism, to anti-austerity neighborhood struggles of the late 1960s, intertwined with the Black freedom struggle and Puerto Rican liberation. Still, New York remains a profoundly unjust and segregated place, with real estate capital shaping the economy, politics, and urban planning.
In this Olio, we will examine the state of housing justice in New York City. We will first explore the immediate responses to the pandemic, including goals like the cancellation of rent, and tactics, like rent strikes. We will then look to recent history, specifically the fight for stronger rent regulation, to explore the complexity of the housing landscape of New York. Is there a unified housing movement? How do organizers fighting for change in the city influence state-level policies? Are electoral successes enough? From there, we will look to the future, and draw out connections to broader visions of housing decommodification. We will explore the national Homes Guarantee platform, which has shaped Democratic presidential candidates’ housing platforms, including Bernie Sanders’ Housing for All proposal. We will also examine Moms 4 Housing’s successful takeover of a property held vacant by a predatory real estate company in Oakland, a step toward the group’s larger vision for ending homelessness. Given where we are now, can we envision a future where every New Yorker has a safe, comfortable, and dignified place to live?
Oksana Mironova is a housing policy analyst with the Community Service Society of New York. She writes about cities, urban planning, housing, and public space.
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