Syracuse, NY– The United States is in the midst of a housing crisis. Wealth inequality that continues to widen has created an ongoing pattern of gentrification throughout the US, leading to increased homelessness. Instead of making housing safe and affordable, the government has largely resorted to carceral solutions: forced evictions using police and criminalizing homelessness, which contributes to mass incarceration. All of this is against a backdrop of racialized law enforcement and police brutality, creating a system of intersecting oppressions for black and brown people.
Since the coronavirus pandemic has reached the U.S., more than 50 million have lost jobs, exacerbating an already existing housing crisis. In July, 32% of households were unable to pay their housing bill on time and in full, and 19% made no payment at all during the first week of the month. If nothing is done, when unemployment benefits expire for many, working class Americans will be faced with a new wave of evictions. While New York State has issued a moratorium on evictions until August, such measures only prolong the impending catastrophe. Moreover, tenants in the majority of states across the country will begin facing evictions on July 25th; the Syracuse Party for Socialism stands in solidarity with tenants and demands rent cancellation!
It is for this reason that the Syracuse branch of the Party for Socialism and Liberation will be leading a march on Saturday, July 25th to demand cancellation of all rents and mortgages from throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Beginning at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, the Syracuse PSL will begin our march starting at the Syracuse Housing Authority on Burt Street and end with a rally in front of Dr. King Elementary School. We will demand safe and continuous housing for all Syracuse City residents and, in particular, those who qualify for Section 8 housing vouchers and those who live in public housing. Additionally, we will demand that Syracuse implement a moratorium on evictions, provide rent relief in the form of rent cancellation, and meet all of the demands of the “People’s Agenda for Police Reform.” This protest is part of a National Day of Action sponsored by the Party for Socialism and Liberation.
“We are marching in opposition to housing evictions and police brutality, two systems of oppression which together represent a war on Black America,” remarked Hanna Goldberg of the Syracuse PSL. “It is imperative that governments local and national immediately offer rent relief and make sweeping plans to combat police brutality.”
The City of Syracuse has long been a perpetrator of housing injustice, and this pattern continues today. Its latest proposal, called Blueprint 15 and crafted in partnership with the Syracuse Housing Authority (SHA), has a “bold vision for the holistic revitalization of the neighborhood,” the type of rhetoric that is often a euphemism for gentrification. Upon closer examination, this proposal seems intended to displace people who reside in public housing.
Furthermore, a Community Benchmarks program at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School found that, as of 2017, Syracuse landlords were evicting 11,000 people per year, a staggering number in such a small city. Currently, Section 8 vouchers continue to remain an insufficient option, as the number of applications likely will be two times the 3,500 spots available, and the SHA will hold a lottery to determine who gets those spots. In response to overwhelming demand, the SHA has instituted an unacceptable lottery program. Housing should not be based on luck; it should be a human right! We must take action!
Saturday’s demonstration will make use of social distancing protocols; all demonstrators must wear face masks and stand 6 feet apart from one another. Speakers will include representatives from the Party for Socialism and Liberation, Syracuse Tenants Union, Finger Lakes Rapid Response Network, and Ithaca Tenants Union. For further information on the National Day of Action, please visit www.canceltherents.org