CAAAV #CANCELRENT FUND
It’s May 1st, and many CAAAV members can’t pay rent. They have lost their jobs, yet are expected to pay money they don’t have in order to stay in their homes. Nobody should have to choose between feeding their family and lining real estate’s pockets.
We are organizing to force Governor Cuomo to #CancelRent for every single tenant in New York State - whether in rent-stabilized, unregulated, public, or informal housing - so that we all have safe, healthy and guaranteed homes. Winning #Cancel Rent, challenging the legitimacy of capitalism and housing for profit, and setting the pre-conditions to win housing as a human right all depend on how hard we fight right now. Will you stand with working class Asian immigrants and donate to CAAAV's #CancelRent Fund?
Your support enables us to continue organizing and supporting CAAAV members to take collective action against real estate, big landlords and against Governor Cuomo. The #CancelRent Fund will go towards:
Emergency aid: Direct relief to CAAAV members, in the form of food, medicine, rent relief or legal support for CAAAV member-led rent strikes
Public Housing block organizing: Support for members to pressure NYCHA to cancel rent and for HUD to prioritize sanitation maintenance and emergency repairs so those most vulnerable to COVID-19 can stay in safe and healthy homes
Building by building organizing: Support for rent-stabilized members to write demand letters, pressure and negotiate with their landlords, instead of being forced to make impossible choices between affording rent or groceries
Language justice: Rapid translation into Chinese, Bangla and Korean of everything from eviction moratorium know your rights materials, to accurate information about COVID-19 health and safety, to #CancelRent campaign strategy
Building power to rent strike: Deepening our collective understanding of the power of coordinated, building-wide rent strikes, and to organize with CAAAV members to build enough power to strike
CAAAV has been organizing working-class Asian immigrant tenants for over 15 years. Now is the moment to leverage all the power that we’ve built over the last decade and a half. Crises create openings to win big material and cultural change. Things are possible today that weren’t possible even one month ago. We have been fighting for a #HomesGuarantee for years. Now that millions of renters across the US are at risk of losing their housing, there is an opening to win safe, healthy and guaranteed homes for all of us - to win housing as a human right.
COVID-19 is an economic crisis as much as it is a health crisis. Public housing was left to decay so developers could swoop in and privatize public homes, which has now left CAAAV members in apartments without repairs, without consistent heat and without adequate cleaning, even in this pandemic. Gentrification has forced members to live in overcrowded conditions in Chinatown, cramming multiple people into small apartments with no possibility for social distancing. Many of CAAAV’s members are undocumented and don’t qualify for stimulus checks or any form of relief. A large number of members are workers over the age of 60 who must choose to work despite the dire health risks or lose their jobs without the possibility of unemployment benefits.
Cuomo is being lauded as a hero while CAAAV’s working-class Asian immigrant membership is blamed as the source of the virus. Yet Cuomo’s solutions continue to put more and more working-class people at risk of losing both their homes and their lives, while protecting real estate and big business. We have an opportunity to change our collective understanding of this moment. Part of challenging the terrifying surge of anti-Asian violence is showing that working-class Asian immigrants are at the forefront of fighting for all working-class renters to stay in their homes.
Flexing Our Power
This is our chance to change real estate’s chokehold on New York City. We are creating long-term organizing infrastructure despite social distancing, setting the groundwork to #CancelRent now and win a #HomesGuarantee in the future, where public housing is fully funded and nobody struggles to pay market-rate rent in Chinatown or anywhere else.
We are using resources we don’t have to level up and organize powerfully while remote. We are expanding and strengthening Tenant Associations (TAs) in buildings across Chinatown. We are holding building meetings over WeChat and supporting our members to organize their neighbors remotely. We are building relationships and power with our Black and Latinx neighbors in the Queensbridge Houses, organizing across 5 languages. We are supporting CAAAV’s working-class members to take collective action, write demand letters and negotiate with their landlords.
We are building towards rent strikes: organizing a critical mass of tenants with the same landlord to collectively decide to withhold their rent as a form of power, to force Cuomo’s hand. While this is not our only tactic, we believe that this is one of the strongest forms of tenant power we can exercise in this moment. This will change the balance of power between working-class immigrant tenants and their landlords, and between everyday people and Cuomo.
Can you support us to level up our organizing by donating to our CAAAV #CancelRent Fund?