Tenants across this country walk a fine line between the struggle to stay within their homes and homelessness. As the economy continues to plunge deeper into the New Economic Depression, the struggle for housing sharpens and homelessness continues to grow. These two struggles are closely wound together, and they share the same root: capitalism.
Housing, like everything under capitalism, has been made a commodity and is subject to the economic laws of capitalism. This means anyone seeking shelter – all working people! – has to buy (rent) it. As conditions change withing the housing market, developers, landlords and politicians make adjustments and leverage it to their advantage at the expense of the tenants. These changes often lead to tenant’s neighborhoods being redeveloped and therefore pushing them to look to rent somewhere else more affordable. But if tenants can’t find affordable shelter, they become homeless. Isn’t this what we’re seeing throughout the country? Capitalism unfolds as it is supposed to.
While conditions tenants and homeless people face differ greatly, the need for housing is where the two struggles are linked. A need easy enough to be met if we weren’t ruled by a capitalist system of commodity production! The so-called “housing shortage” is a natural component of capitalism.
Therefore UNDM upholds the national demand that empty government-owned buildings be given to the people! In this time of economic crises when the people need help the most, there sits empty buildings, especially those owned by the government, yet the ruling class is unable and unwilling to come to the aid of the people, who live within its boundaries, to ensure every person is housed. Since they cannot ensure that every unoccupied home they own is filled, then the people must ensure that is the case. These homes are so-called “publicly owned” (we know they are not) so then let the public control them! We must use these buildings to house evicted tenants made homeless and the homeless in general.
In the U.S., more than half-a-million people are homeless. This is an indictment of capitalism as outmoded and useless. The working class, once organized and prepared for the long fight, are far better suited to manage society. But to get to that point, first we must organize and fight to gain as much control over our neighborhoods as we can.
This is a long fight, from neighborhood to neighborhood all across the country, but as we succeed the momentum will build and we will gain useful experience. We will make mistakes, we will make advancements, then make more mistakes, over and over again, until final victory. As this struggle continues it will be necessary to form more advanced forms of organization to manage the daily affairs in working-class neighborhoods and to aid the larger housing struggle which includes housing the homeless.
The struggle for housing includes the fight against evictions, which ebbs and flows, but as the movement continues to grow there will inevitably be some evictions we cannot successfully defend against, but that should never mean we abandon the people. We fight, always, shoulder to shoulder with the struggling tenants, even if we lose some battles, even if the people face temporary homelessness.
In fighting to win all our national demands – 1. debt forgiveness, 2. ban on evictions for non-payment, 3. half-off rent, 4. turning over empty government buildings to the people, 5. all with no tax increase to the people – we aid in the homeless struggle, especially fighting for the demand to turn over empty government-owned buildings to the people in need!
But even then, that is not enough. In fighting for these demands, the fight must be tied to the larger struggle for social revolution. The only way to solve both of these struggles is by getting to the root cause. In short, the only way to solve the housing and homeless question is by changing society that is controlled by capitalism into one that is directly controlled by the working people.