by Daniel Baggarly
Our country has shown a reckless unpreparedness and void in serious leadership from the top down in a public health crisis that, in its worst case, will kill millions of people. Our culture and institutions are pathetically floundering in vain attempts to preserve a backwards economic system that is entirely built upon the myth of continuous growth and the hoarding of wealth at the expense of the true producers of that wealth, the labor force. As I and millions of other workers like me are either laid off or facing an impending layoff, the prospect of not being able to pay rent next week looms large. And if not next week, certainly next month. And the month after. The government has so far failed to take the logical action of canceling all rent and mortgages for the duration of the crisis, and we are left to fend for ourselves. The time to act is now.
Luckily for us, we have friends in our community with more foresight and compassion than our leaders. A semi-anonymously created “Tools For Tenants” document has compiled resources for Philadelphians in my situation HERE. It includes a sample letter to send to your landlord, local politicians to harass, how to harass them, an updated account of the legal situation for renters in Philadelphia, rent strike interest, and links to general COVID resource information from the Philly Tenants Union. I am grateful that people in the same boat as me are taking this situation seriously, and are starting what will likely be a long campaign of organization to guarantee that no one has to worry about basic necessities during this time of crisis. If we’re lucky, this can prove that basic necessities can be provided for all in normal times as well, leaving us more equipped to deal with unexpected difficulties as they arise, but for the immediate future I implore you to join me in taking full advantage of this resource. This is a fight we can win, now.
When leaders fail to do what is necessary and right, it falls to us to advocate for ourselves, our families, our friends, and our neighbors. Do not sit around and wait for something we do not know will be coming. Call your representatives. Write your landlords. Support your communities. The only way we will survive this is together, while creating a more just and humane world in the process.