Why Rent Strike?
- 78% of Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck
- 58% can’t weather a $500 unexpected expense
- 20% (about 31 million workers) are already experiencing reduced hours or unemployment as a result of the pandemic.
Let’s be realistic. Many of us have lost our incomes in just the first week of the COVID-19 pandemic. The suspension of work for employees in the service industry has already put many in very vulnerable positions. Most of these jobs offer few if any benefits and unemployment has been slow and insufficient.
While there is currently a moratorium on evictions for May, this does not address rent and mortgage payments. If we do not immediately suspend rent and mortgage payments, we will be forcing everyone into a huge amount of debt.
In the coming weeks, more of us will lose our incomes. Many people who live paycheck-to-paycheck will be hit with months of rental backpay, from a time when they had no work. If Governor Inslee calls for mandatory shelter-in-place, this could be most of us.
No one should have to choose between medicine, groceries, or the roof over their head during this crisis. With so much else to worry about, let’s take this off our plate. If we all say no to rent, mortgages and debts, we can keep everyone in their home during this crisis. It should be our top priority to keep ourselves and our neighbors sheltered. And we should not be punished by debts in the future for a present that we cannot control.
For this to work, we all have to participate. Talk to your neighbors and ask them to join. Write a letter to your landlord, explaining that you can’t pay (and if they can’t pay, ask them to join, too!). If no one pays, everyone can stay safely in their homes.
We must demand an immediate suspension of rent and mortgage payments for everyone. And if this demand is not met, we must refuse to pay our rents and mortgages, together. For this to work, we all have to participate. Talk to your neighbors and ask them to join. Write a letter to your landlord, explaining that you can’t pay rent. Write a letter to your bank, explaining that you can’t pay your mortgage. If no one pays, everyone can stay safely in their homes.
Join the Facebook group
Volunteer to help:
Form letters for tenants that can’t make rent:
Question: If I can pay this month, why shouldn’t I?
Answer: Those of us who cannot pay this month are the most vulnerable. But each month, more and more of us will join the ranks of those who literally cannot pay. The phrase “safety in numbers” rings clear now. The reason is simple. When we are few, they evict us with ease. When we are many, we overwhelm their ability to take punitive measures.
If you can afford rent but choose to go on rent strike, what you should do is save the money you would have paid in rent. If your landlord wants to evict you, Washington law requires that they give you a fourteen day notice to pay or vacate before they can open an eviction lawsuit. So at that point you may choose to pay the delayed rent and your landlord will not be able to evict you.
Over time more of us will lose our jobs, our savings, our security, which will make it easier for us to fall into debt and lose our homes. We will all soon be in the same position. Only by having this foresight, and acting in unison, will we protect each other.
Question: What if I like my landlord?
Answer: The thing about this crisis is that it affects all of us. Some landlords need to pay their mortgage each month just as tenants need to pay their rent. It’s not their fault or ours that we’re in this mess. The pressure should be applied upward to the representatives and financial institutions that call the shots.
Remind your landlord that you aren’t doing this to spite them, but out of necessity. None of us chose to be in this predicament. Support your landlord in their mortgage strike, and ask for their support in return. We need to stick together, and again— hold those above us accountable.
Question: What if we receive income from the government?
Even if everyone receives a check from the government, millions of people will be forced to choose between paying for their basic necessities or paying their rent or mortgage. For many people, the projected payout would not even cover their monthly rent.
Question: What if I have a Section 8 voucher?
Answer: Please report any income losses to your housing worker IMMEDIATELY, as they can reassess your Contribution. Please be aware, while we want you to join us, that your HATC contract says you must pay this Contribution to your landlord in order to keep your Voucher. If you cannot join us in withholding rent, please help us by telling your friends and neighbors the strike is underway
Please share this web page publicly on social media! Feel free to share with friends who might be interested in committing to the Rent Strike 2020! (via text, List Serv, email, etc.)