Housing is a human right! – The news of the Liberation
Community members and activists gathered at Fresno City Hall for a Write Down Rents rally on June 26. Participants called for rent cancellations for tenants and small businesses as well as cancellation of mortgages for homebuyers and small landlords hard hit by the pandemic and economic crisis.
The event was organized by the Fresno Chapter of United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) with the support of the Socialism and Liberation Party (PSL) and was supported by several local organizations. With a presence on more than 200 campuses across the country, USAS challenges corporate power and campaigns on behalf of workers’ rights across the United States and in solidarity with international struggles.
Without rent cancellation, thousands of people in Fresno and millions across the country will face one of the most dire housing crises in recent memory. About 40 percent of Fresno’s residents live in poverty, one of the highest poverty rates in California.
“Families understand that the most important basic need is shelter,” said Alexandra Alvarado of Faith in the Valley. “Many have had to give up basic necessities such as food, utilities and medical bills in order to pay their rent.”
Camila Rivera, USAS organizer and student at Fresno City College, noted that “[the demand to] Canceling rent is not a Democratic or Republican problem; housing is rather a fundamental human rights issue and should be essential for the working class because we are the backbone of this country.
The common theme of all the speeches was that these issues deeply affect all working class people. Housing for the homeless and the particular challenges faced by undocumented workers in supporting secure housing were highlighted by speakers. As PSL member Angel Rojas said, “Homeless veterans, homeless children and homeless families are just being pushed aside. “
Despite the uphill battle, there was nonetheless a strong sense of optimism that bleed from the hearts of everyone involved in the event.
“We need to stick together and continue to build this movement,” summed up Ralphy Avita, teacher and member of the Brown Berets. Avita then praised the potential he sees in young people who will go on to become the next generation of activists and organizers.
“If the moratorium is not extended, more than 5,000 families will be threatened with eviction in Fresno alone,” said Alexa Anakbayan.
The extension of the moratorium was indeed signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom two days after the Fresno rally, along with an extension of the state’s rent relief program that, on paper, would cover up to 100% of the rent for tenants economically affected by the pandemic. This important development is a victory and shows that the demands of our movement can be won.
However, California’s rent relief program has so far been plagued by bureaucratic hurdles compounded by accessibility issues for non-English speakers as well as those who do not have easy access to the rental process. request online. As a result, qualified tenants across the state were unable to obtain the promised benefits. Tenants who cannot get rent relief at the time of the eviction moratorium could still be at risk of being evicted by their landlords.
It is imperative that we continue to fight so that the legislation translates into real relief for those who need it. The USAS Chapter of Fresno City College and the PSL are planning future events such as banner drops, study groups, conferences and more. No one should lose their home in the richest country in the world.
“People across the country are increasingly fed up with the government’s lack of support for those facing housing insecurity,” said Nick McKenna, PSL member. “Housing is not just a local or national issue, housing is a human right.