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News ::
Boston Angry Tenants Union
18 Feb 2003
Modified: 21 Feb 2003
We're Your Landlord's Worst Nightmare!
Boston Angry Tenants Union:
Weíre Your Landlordís 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 tenantsí 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.

BATUís 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, ĎThe Angry Tenantí, 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



-- Points of Unity --

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

2. WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO ABOUT IT? DIRECT ACTION! We canít 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 intermediariesÖ this is direct action!

3. DIRECT DEMOCRACY! All angry tenants deserve a voice! Whoís been affected more by the housing crisis than us? Letís 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 donít allow our communities to do whatís best for us. Theyíre 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! LETíS FACE IT, EVERY TIME WE PAY RENT WE ARE BEING ROBBED! Housing is not a privilege, and itís not something to be owned by a few rich scumbags. We donít 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 donít need more stores we canít afford, and we donít need expensive condos pushing our families out and destroying our communities.
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A better idea (english)
19 Feb 2003
I pay an exorbitant rent (2/3 of my already below the poverty line salary) to live in a one bedroom apartment. I am lucky, though, because I have a pest free, heated apartment with good running water and a responsive landlord. The problem, of course, is that I got the same thing for almost half the price (including all utilities)in Providence.

However, I do not think a union is the best way to encourage a more fair, more safe, more sanitary living environment. Here are my suggestions:

1) Encourage collective or tribal living. Mainly, encourage people to live in non-family units of 2 or more people to save on rent. While this is the least desirable alternative, it is cost effective and intelligent.

2) Pool money to buy buildings, leading to entirely tenant-run complexes. This is a longer term plan, requiring some work in the communities. However, its ultimate goal is quite sound. People will take a greater interest in their properties if they have to live there. No rent needed, just maintenance. Even better, you can teach the tenants to do the maintenance themselves.

3) Landlords must follow the rules. No heat, rats, etc. are all violations of MA law. Call the cops, call the building boards. While the government may drag their heels, TENANTS HAVE RIGHTS and they should be informed, aware, and proactive. Repeated fines by the board of health will convince a landlord to do something, especially in light of the recent Tufts students death.

4) Reduce NIMBY in college towns. One of the best way to increase low income housing is to get the students back onto campus and into dorms and out of the housing market. They deserve a place to live to, but being younger means they are more likely to be taken advantage of by landlords. However, many towns are against the college running off with more land. You need to make a choice: knock down 10 houses that held, say, 50 people and build a dorm that houses 300, or set those 300 students loose in the community.

One thing I disagree with is your hiding the anarchist/communist beliefs behind an otherwise neutral desire. I believe politics is a sad excuse for actual work. What I am proposing up there can be done now, and easily, with minimal organization. You don't need to be ANGRY to be effective.
uh, I think you missed the point (english)
19 Feb 2003
we don't want to call the cops or pander to landlords. we want to build community power, outside and against the system that allows landlords to exist in the first place! also, tribal living and pooling money is all well and good if you are into that sort of thing, but why should people be forced to live with 5-6 people in a three bedroom house to be able to make rent? fuck that!
No, you missed the point (english)
21 Feb 2003
You want something done, correct? You want lower prices and safer conditions. My suggestions are easy to implement and result in actual results. Signing petitions and throwing rocks (which seem to be the two main activities anarchists participate in) take longer and often do not pan out.

What is more important: your political agenda or the cause you are working for?