Boston Angry Tenants Union: We're Your Landlord's Worst Nightmare

by Aram (NEFAC-Boston)

With the spread of gentrification and subsequent rising rents, fewer vacancies and increased evictions, tenants throughout greater Boston are frantically looking for a solution to the housing crisis. With a tight housing market, landlords have seen greater profits and increased power, while tenants have to settle for shittier apartments. Families find it increasingly difficult to live in the city and some are forced to move out because they cannot afford it. The housing crisis is very real and overwhelmingly for tenants throughout Boston. What is the solution?

The Boston Angry Tenants Union believes that the immediate goal is to build a mass-based union of working class tenants in order to build tenant power. We must not let politicians, landlords or real estate speculators run our lives. Reform is not an option; the ultimate goal is housing without capitalism. We will not increase our dependency on government nor landlord; instead our energy is spent on developing a culture of direct action so that we will change the current state of housing ourselves. However, we will not stop with any small victories. We believe the root of any housing crisis is capitalism. We do not see any band-aid solution as a long-term goal. We are focussed on immediate gains for tenants while at the same time we are against institutional power. We will organize to fight our landlords who do not fix that leaky roof or the broken stairs, who increases rents and profits while making our communities too expensive to live in, but we will never stop there. These problems will always occur within the current capitalist system.

The Boston housing crisis needs an organized tenants' response. There is a need to build an organization which provides a non-reformist perspective and a plan of action. Boston tenants need a new vision, one where housing needs are met. We need to change the debate from affordable housing to social housing, from rent control to rent reduction, from landlords to a world without them! BATU wants to push current debate to a long-term focus, not one which is tied to short-term gains within a capitalist framework.

BATU's strategy is two-fold: organizing and propaganda. Our work is based in neighborhoods with our fellow working class tenants. As a union, we focus on building locals and organized housing complexes. The goal is to establish power in neighborhoods so that we may fight off gentrification and begin building the new society in the shell of the old. To reach our goals we must build a direct action culture of resistance among tenants; politicize tenants and agitate for working class neighbors to build tenant power.

Just like any directly democratic union, we act from the bottom-up, and the issues and campaigns we work on come directly from our membership. Not only will our tactics differ from other reformist organizing projects, but so does our politics. We are explicit in our positions and will not hide them. Therefore, our newspaper, 'The Angry Tenant', is our medium for news on local housing situations and our solutions to them. To change the political atmosphere we need a strong membership and accessible political positions.

Boston Angry Tenants Union
PO Box 146
Boston, MA 02133

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Boston Angry Tenants Union

-- Points of Unity --

1. WE ARE ANGRY TENANTS! We're angry because of rats, leaky faucets, increasing rents, no heat, roaches, and to top it all off, scumbag landlords. Our rents are too high, there's not enough housing for everyone, and landlords are getting rich while we're getting evicted. We refuse to take it anymore.

2. WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO ABOUT IT? DIRECT ACTION! We can't count on those crooked cops and dirty politicians to get the job done. We, the angry tenants, make no polite appeals to those who are screwing us over (building supers, landlords, property speculators, and the housing authority). We will take action however we see fit, on our own terms, and without intermediaries - this is direct action!

3. DIRECT DEMOCRACY! All angry tenants deserve a voice! Who's been affected more by the housing crisis than us? Let's take control of our own lives and make decisions for ourselves.

4. WHAT DO WE NEED TO DO? ORGANIZE! Who should organize angry tenants? Angry tenants should organize angry tenants! We think that those who live in our communities should make the decisions about our communities, and that we should organize ourselves.

5. EVERYBODY DESERVES A HOME, EVERYBODY DESERVES A COMMUNITY! Those money hungry capitalists who are in control don't allow our communities to do what's best for us. They're not going to give us housing and community control, we need to take it!

6. SOLIDARITY IN OUR STRUGGLES! In our struggles for power in our own communities, we must also support our neighboring communities in their struggles. With solidarity and mutual aid comes victory!

7. NO LANDLORDS! NO EVICTIONS! LET'S FACE IT, EVERY TIME WE PAY RENT WE ARE BEING ROBBED! Housing is not a privilege, and it's not something to be owned by a few rich scumbags. We don't need or want landlords to evict us and make decisions that could ruin our lives. Eviction is a crime! Rent is theft!

8. WE WILL NOT ALLOW OUR CITY TO BE OVERRUN BY THE WEALTHY! We don't need more stores we can't afford, and we don't need expensive condos pushing our families out and destroying our communities.