#RenterWeekOfAction Addresses Nationwide Housing Crisis

By catherine lizette gonzalez Sep 18, 2017

Today (September 18), renters in more than 45 U.S. cities kicked off "Renter Week of Action," a week of direct actions aimed at addressing rent increases, mass evictions and cuts to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Right To The City, the anti-gentrification group behind the campaign, announced a wide range of actions to disrupt landlords, corporations and government officials, including citywide tours of communities in crisis, banner drops and creative actions at city halls.

In conjunction with the programming, Right To The City released a joint study with National Equity Atlas, PolicyLink and CarsonWatch documenting the housing situation that has placed millions of families at risk for displacement. "When the rent is too high, little is left over for basics like food, transportation, health care and education," reads the report. "Millions of families are increasingly at risk of eviction and homelessness."

Leading up to the mid-September actions, organizers debuted the following video, which includes renter testimonies and housing statistics. "Corporate and Wall Street landlords get government subsidies to buy up our communities for pennies on the dollar," activists say in the video, citing the disproportionate amount of government aid awarded to companies and wealthier households versus what is allocated to families with lower incomes.

As part of the coordinated effort, thousands of renters are expected to demand the right to protections from displacement and the ability to form tenant unions. "Our communities are under constant attack," Right To The City Boston organizer Darnell Johnson said in a statement. "From policies of mass deportation and incarceration to gentrification and mass evictions, we are facing displacement in many forms. Renters have had enough."

Renters of color have been disproportionately affected by housing displacement through segregation practices and criminalization. In 2013, an estimated 43 million people living in the U.S. rented their homes; the majority of them were Black and Latinx families. Many renters of color spent up to 35 percent of their monthly income on rent, according to a 2014 report by Trulia.

Throughout the week, activists around the country will document campaigns in their communities using the hashtag #RenterWeekOfAction. Below, some actions that have already taken place: