Rent strike

While the rent strike seems a certainty in major North American cities like Toronto, Montréal, usually if left, seems to have trouble adjusting his violins. This is not because it felt less need. On the contrary. This morning the newspaper Le Devoir revealed that half of workers have less than a month of financial cushion and for half of them and they it is only a short week before completely dry. It is in this context that various channels are heard to address the pressing issue of rent from April 1.

The communications team SITT-IWW Montreal offers here speaking to Tim, Chloé and Alex and Sarah. The first is Tim whose thinking was shared on the RentStrike group Strike rent Montreal, with close to 3500 members. A recent survey shared on the group shows that nearly 20% of them and they will strike at all costs and that 55% Additional questions arise, but would love to participate. Following the announcement internally that we were going to publish this article, two members wanted to add their two cents. Chloé, formerly the Committee Bails Hochelaga-Maisoneuve, currently working in the events and in favor of a more combative line and Alex and Sarah are salaried in housing committees and activists for a long time for the right to housing. They share with us how things are done internally for the organizations in their networks..

Reflection on RentStrike / rent strike – Montréal
Tim, active voice in the movement for the rent strike in the US

I see many calls go to the rent strike from people who have never organized movement of tenants who are not involved in local and national efforts to implement such organizations.

On the one hand, it is a form of dangerous amateurism; the followers of spontaneity like to believe that "if we make claims and people's support, everything will fall into place ". It's suicide, and this is the result of a trend too lazy left to set up the necessary organizations to the struggle in periods of surf between moments of crisis.

Here's what makes a fight is victorious : broad support of our communities, trusting relationships existing between strikers, funds to support strike, and strategy. For the time being, None of this is in place in the "rent strike 2020 ».

On another side, the tenants will not pay money qu'illes lack. Most tenants do not pay their proprios next month not because of ideological beliefs but because qu'illes have no cash. In this sense, we are in the presence of a spontaneous movement, created by last need material needs rather than the extreme left of militancy.

The claims of the rent strike also affect a central political issue : why should we give half our income to a class of parasites that offers us nothing in return? The rent is nothing but a form of racketeering : " paid, I sent you the police to get you out of your home with guns and batons ".

The fact that many cities have put in place moratoria on evictions shows that we have a political momentum to force big concessions to the ruling class. A moratorium on rents and organizing tenants against their landlords to fight for an immediate amnesty for rent (or at least a significant reduction rents) are battles that we can win, and activists should not reduce their efforts just when new opportunities are made possible.

So do not pay your rent if you do not have the means! More, and more importantly, get organized! The fact of organizing will be a thousand times more effective politically only if we act individually in isolation, I can guarantee you! Currently, the movement lacks the capacity to implement its rent strike claims. and activists should not reduce their efforts just when new opportunities are made possible : girls there are uses that are in trouble lorsqu'illes. and activists should not reduce their efforts just when new opportunities are made possible, and get involved in your union nearest tenants, as quickly as possible.

To move forward - and that is probably even more important than whether to support or not the strike claims, moratoria, etc. - we need to prepare our movement for when the ruling class and its government will try to get things in order and impose a return to normal.

A rent strike is questionable in the context where the courts are closed and evictions are not implemented. But in all cases, even if the wheel of justice turn slowly it always ends up crashing his target. Without political intervention sustained basis, we will witness a wave of evictions once the immediate danger is gone coronavirus. and activists should not reduce their efforts just when new opportunities are made possible.

The thing, with radical rhetoric, is that it must be accompanied by actions at some point. It's very nice to chat to strike comfort rents his house behind our screens, and activists should not reduce their efforts just when new opportunities are made possible?

Second reflection on rent strike
Chloé, member of the IWW and ISTC-old employee of the Committee Bails Hochelaga-Maisonneuve

Disclaimer ; I worked in a housing committee 2011 at 2014, So I'm not a person "never organized movement of tenants". On the other hand, I must admit I'm a little disillusioned the community movement. And also, I'm not actively involved currently in the rent strike.

I too have seen pass calls to the strike of the rent. I also read some comments from activists who have reservations face this movement. If I am concerned about how it might take shape outside of social networks, I am disappointed in the response of those who are critical of the initiative.

With almost one million person in Canada, I lost my job in the last days due to the pandemic. I wonder how I'll pay my rent in April and May, because we were told that EI checks take minimally 1 months to arrive. In truth, I know I do not pay you. When I saw the strike call, I felt less alone and I have seen that many other people were in the same situation as me. It reminded me of one of the first things I learned when I started to get involved in the movement for housing rights ; have housing problems, it is not my fault, it is a collective issue and policy. I also learned that the answer to these problems should also be collective and political.

It criticized the initiative of the rent strike for not having followed the logic of organization that has a proven ; be following an already established movement, having made a mobilization-e a-e in our communities, a legal defense strategy, etc. But the situation we are experiencing is unprecedented for our "era". We are confined-e-s home, we can not come together, our housing committees are closed, etc. So we have no choice to change our strategies in the immediate. I think we can not just say that, once the crisis behind us, it will restart more firmly. We can build on the momentum.

The housing committees have already taken the first gain in this fight ; suspension hearings and judgments leading to the eviction of tenants. I think it set the table for the future ; a strike which claims as the rent freeze and mortgages. Otherwise what's the result ? Some-e-s talk seek emergency supplements ? This measure often debate in the middle of the right to housing as it does not question the private rental system, the same cause of our housing insecurity.

Short, I do not understand why people are so reluctant to what the word strike is tacked to our inability to pay our rent. I do not see why not pay in silence would be more favorable. I do not see how not to be part of a movement, although not perfectly organized, will help us.

I think that many questions are legitimate ; what will we do when the Housing Authority will be re-opened and thousands of tenants will receive an eviction notice ? How solidarity will be based out of Facebook after stroke ? ... well we do not strike or, we will face these situations ... so both consider now and plan accordingly, ensemble.

Third reflection on the rent strike
Alex, membre du SITT-IWW, and Sarah, sympathetic, work in housing committees and have long campaigned for the right to housing.

We are workers in Housing Committees or involved for several years in groups for the right to housing. Our opinions are our own and do not represent the positions of the organizations we work for, neither of their groupings.

The massive unemployment of a large part of the population brings its share of worries. Gradually, as the stores, convenience stores and other restaurants close, feeling of insecurity increases. Several workers and salarié.e.s workers submitted their application for employment insurance and still await any sign of the Canadian state that their request has been lodged and well fed. Others have applied for financial assistance from the Government of Quebec and are waiting to know whether they will be eligible or not. There are also those who were already on last-resort assistance programs and whose incomes are greatly limited, whose health is at risk or who are not eligible for any program because on social assistance and / or living on the black market.

We wonder how we will survive if we eat the rest of our savings on the 1st of the month. several tenants, in addition to the stress of payment (or not) their rent, live a package of housing problems that accumulate for some time.

Following pressure by FRAPRU and RCLALQ, many gains have been made, but it is still insufficient. Hearings deemed non-essential have been suspended. For the duration of the health crisis, the tenants will not see or expulsé.e.s évincé.e.s their homes. Still, we expect massive crowding out once the health crisis is over, whether for non-payment, frequent delays, or in connection with a lease agreement or terminated following judgment. The Quebec government now recommends not to visit physical housing for the duration of the crisis. The inspecteurs.trices municipal services and extermination services are maintained, but everything is in slow motion, and there is intervention only in urgent cases. It is also asked to provide emergency rent supplements, to facilitate and accelerate access to financial assistance from the various levels of government, and finally that any eviction attributable to the non-payment of April is prohibited.

Meanwhile, more or less organized individuals and autonomous collectives have launched calls for a rent strike. Some facebook pages have been created as well as discussion groups. Several conflicting and sometimes false then circulated : the owners would have a tax holiday and mortgage payment, people who do not pay their rent would not be prosecuted, etc. We will not comment on the falsehoods that circulate, but rather invite you to consult your local housing committee as well as this page : : If a ban on evictions of tenants who have not paid their rent by April 1 was decreed, nothing indicates that political strikers, those who have written publicly and informed their owner that he or she does not pay, support to tenants unable to pay, would be spared.

Housing committees and our groups are asked to, FRAPRU and RCLALQ, to support these initiatives. National groups currently have no mandate to support a general rent strike. Even between workers, between members of boards of directors (THAT) active national and activist groups with which we have a more frequent connection, we are very far from having a consensus, and this is not yet the case nor within the work teams, nor within local CAs. In the internal discussions we had between workers, many consider that participating in a rent strike involves risks for vulnerable tenant households which are greater than the earnings prospects of a movement does not mobilize critical mass. In short several misgivings expressed.

You should know that the level of local groups, like many other workers, we are either unemployed since Monday, is in the process of transferring our legal information services from our premises to teleworking. Renters Assistance applications are still ongoing, we have our members to reassure and inform of the situation. As any group with a certain structure, our decision making processes sometimes take a while. It operates democratically. It adopts an annual action plans, adopted by our members, which then participate in its realization in work committees or mobilization committees. Our local being closed, we are presently unable to consult, to collectively assess the pros and cons of the proposed actions, and even less to bring our proposals to groupings, something that must also be made in a general assembly. In short, for the time being, housing committees focus on providing legal information and are therefore available to answer legal questions. It will probably not be possible for them to position themselves by the rise or failure of the movement.

The permanence of our groups are currently working on a package of issues, ranging from historical claims (public housing, gel rents, register leases), claims related to the health crisis : Emergency measures for tenants, moratorium on evictions, owner of the right of, and this while the housing committees are closed or under reorganization, and many tenants are turning to consolidation to be informed about their rights. The groups therefore appear to have concrete demands they know to win the short to medium term and whose actions would quickly apply without subject of lengthy and costly disputes a government usually tries to avoid. That does not mean that these groups can not effectively support the strikers' demands, but they make choices based on these capabilities and the state of mobilization, both internally, that in our groups and in civil society.

FRAPRU and RCLALQ accumulate between them over 80 years of advocacy experience, mobilization and representation. The salarié.e.s and militant.e.s within it saw in passing rent strikes, occupations, mobilisations, economic or health crises, disaster. This long experience allows them to have an enlightened perspective on where gains are to be made., where risks are taken, and what it takes to build a strong social movement. Without necessarily agreeing with their present positioning, one must consider their reluctance and their views on the subject.

A general rent strike is an ambitious project that will require a lot of organization. From what I know, This idea came out publicly there is less than two weeks and is currently very marginal. It is true nevertheless that a social crisis is a factor accelerating the development of a social movement. Several means of action and dissemination are available but have not been discussed. Put a white cloth to signify solidarity, write to the owner, Contact our local elected officials, make poster campaigns, discuss with our neighbors, it takes time.

Are we ready to lead a rent strike? Is the goal of holding a rent strike for April 1 realistic? Is the risk taken now worth the effort? It is currently uncertain. It lacks several conditions for different groups and individu.e.s currently at work can develop a strong and combative social movement. By next month, we will have time to think of ways to meet, discuss, develop our claims, our organization and means of action in favor.

In solidarity with you,
Alex (x377511) and Sarah (sympathetic)

Photo credit:

9 replies
      • JF
        JF says:

        “Why should we give half of our income to a class of parasites who offer us nothing in return? ”

        If it really is “nothing” that you get in return, why did you sign your lease…
        Fool applies here, I fear it.

        • bob
          bob says:

          why sign?
          bah like an unemployed person who is desperately looking for a job to eat

          it is a contract where one has the power and the other does not


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] movements with the greatest social strength is currently the rent strike movement. In an extensive interview, details are given on the organization of the rent strike in Montreal in which it participates […]

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  3. […] In Germany, similar discussions then took place in many places as in the USA and Canada (see part II), where a more campaign-related, radical student left wing meets social movements that have been active for many years. In addition Tim, a longtime activist of the rental strike movement in the USA in an interview with the IWW Montreal: […]

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