With the threat of homelessness looming in many people’s minds throughout March as the crisis moved from back page news story to global pandemic, calls for a rent strike grew from viral memes into a real world movement. Despite attacks in the corporate press, on April 1st, the rent strike officially kicked off across the US and Canada, as entire buildings and apartment complexes announced their refusal to pay and support grew within the wider population for a rent freeze. By the evening of April 1st, CNN was even running an entire segment on the strike, showcasing the degree in which the campaign has exploded into the popular imagination of millions of people. This in itself is a testament to the hard work of grassroots organizers, the massive proliferation of flyers, posters, graffiti messages, and the now iconic white sheets which have come to symbolize the rent strike, and the countless hours spent between neighbors in meetings and online discussions. But perhaps the greatest power of the strike, is that it has encouraged and pushed so many people to actually organize and come together with other community members. By providing hotline numbers and organizing guides, local tenant unions, autonomous groups, and community organizations have worked to bring those unable to pay their rent into a much larger struggle. This process has thus in turn created more organizers: it has increased the capacity of people to self-organize and fight back against forces so often seen as untouchable.
In Rent Strike Spreads Across US & Canada in the Face of Growing COVID-19 Crisis (Itsgoingdown.org)