People’s Town Hall demands: ‘Rent control NOW!’

Atlanta

Tenants and housing activists packed the Neighborhood Church in East Atlanta July 8 for a People’s Town Hall to launch a statewide effort to overturn a Georgia law that forbids any rent control measures from being enacted in any jurisdiction.

Credit: Housing Justice League, Facebook

People traveled from around the state, coming from small towns and large cities like Valdosta near the Florida border, Columbus and Albany. Atlanta and its suburbs were well represented.

Many of the featured speakers were Black women who have borne the brunt of rundown housing, where they are charged exorbitant rents and utility costs and are constantly threatened with eviction. Youth of all nationalities and genders  described how they often share one bedroom apartments with other people and still struggle to pay the rent.

While a number of those in attendance were experienced at tenant organizing, others came to learn.

Everyone agreed to support a campaign to promote rent control measures to be enacted at every level, including statewide.  Another popular issue was the demand for public land to be used to build public housing for households with incomes of 0-30% of Area Median Income.

The city of Atlanta has been selling city-owned property to private developers so they can build high-rise condominiums and expensive apartments, with the “promise” of allocating a few so-called “affordable housing units” for people who earn $60,000-$80,000 a year.

Many in attendance condemned the role of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in sustaining the existence of rat and roach-infested complexes, raw sewage and other safety hazards. Several people spoke of repeatedly contacting HUD but nothing was done about their complaints.

Applause rang out across the room when speakers called out capitalism and profiteers for using housing, a human right, as a way to make millions of dollars.  Everyone agreed that decent, affordable housing is a human right, but one that an organized movement will have to mobilize to win.

Dozens of organizations, including multiple tenants associations, endorsed the Peoples Town Hall and brought their members. The Housing Justice League, Georgia for All and the Party for Socialism and Liberation provided much of the staffing, outreach and set up for this very successful meeting.

 

Dianne Mathiowetz

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Dianne Mathiowetz
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