Rhina Sorto, who has been filing complaints to Carabetta Management for months about mold, flooding and rodent infestation, was joined in a protest yesterday by other Malden Towers residents, as well as tenant advocates showing solidarity. Gathered in the parking lot of Malden Towers apartment complex at 99 Florence St., those present witnessed three Malden tenant associations come together. The event, which started at noon, was organized by the City Life/Vida Urbana (CLVU) housing nonprofit. The nonprofit brought together the Malden Towers Tenant Association, the United Properties Tenant Association and the Maplewood Square Tenant Association into a coalition with one mission: dignified housing.
It didn’t make a lot of headlines, but in the recent stimulus and government funding deal, Congress extended what is probably the most significant federal housing policy in a generation: the nationwide eviction moratorium. We should study how it came to be, because it illustrates how working class people successfully influence public policy through collective action outside the political process. Originally implemented by the CDC in September, the moratorium is obviously imperfect in a number of ways: it is clearly designed to be narrowly targeted at “deserving” tenants and to compel people to pay what they can, its reach is limited because in practice it has to be implemented by local judges and sheriffs...
Calls to rent strike have yet to cohere into a national political movement. But as the economic crisis deepens, tenants’ fates will ultimately be decided by their level of collective organization. With the arrival of the pandemic, staying home became emergency work for a failing state. Amid disastrous negligence at every level of government, one of the most ordinary facts of life in capitalism—rent—suddenly appeared clearly as an affront. “One section of society here demands a tribute from the other for the very right to live on the earth,” Marx wrote of landlords. In the early spring, with state-level and nationwide eviction moratoriums and tenant protections in place, it seemed like there had never been a better time to refuse these bad terms. Calls to rent strike brought grassroots tenant unions to the foreground. Through the spring, thousands of people turned to tenant organizing, many for the first time.