Conditions are different everywhere, to be clear. But at the moment, in Portland, Oregon, we have a particular window of opportunity to try to address the historic wrongs of the real estate speculators, investors, financiers, house-flippers, and other gentrifiers. There is a suspension in place on evictions of people whose finances have been dramatically impacted by the pandemic, and that’s a hell of a lot of renters, and probably 100% of the community of artists who remain in Portland, after all the prior waves of gentrification which have already driven most of us out of the city, along with most of the African-American community that used to be here.
Historically, when some combination of factors results in a situation where a relatively progressive local authority has passed a suspension on evictions, this is a time not to sit back and enjoy the respite in the class war, but to push the envelope. This is the time, while the risks are comparatively low, to organize a rent strike. This is the time for low rent or no rent — for withholding the rent until landlords offer new, long-term rental contracts for actually affordable housing. That is, for housing that an unemployed artist can afford. By our rough estimation, about half the current so-called market rate would be an acceptable place to start.
We need lots more collaborators with skills in IT, web design, graphic design, audio engineering, and more. And we need people to show up — with instruments, puppets, bullhorns, banners, tennis rackets, and whatever else seems appropriate — to every attempted eviction. Stop the evictions before they start — get organized. More info coming soon, hopefully with your help and participation.