by Peggy Wang (APA, MTA/NEA – personal capacity)
This article was originally published in Socialism Today, the paper of the Independent Socialist Group. Subscribe to the paper to receive each issue in print and read the articles before they’re published online!
For years construction of unaffordable luxury units has displaced workers already struggling to get by on poverty wages. The COVID pandemic has accelerated these issues with hundreds of thousands of people facing eviction and/or homelessness.
60% of renters are without eviction protections and twice as many renters couldn’t make rent in 2021 as compared to 2020 (NYT, 8/11/2021). House prices increased almost 19% last year. While working people struggle to stay housed, landlords are seeing record profits due to pandemic aid from the government. Homes are being snapped up by corporations and investment funds instead of residents.
In a country with over 16 million empty homes and half a million homeless people, nobody should be left out on the streets. Housing should be a right, not a commodity for the capitalist class to profit from.
A lasting solution to our housing problem is possible, but it lies in putting working people in control of what’s built in our communities and for whom.
A socialist society would ensure quality, affordable housing and a living wage. We could create millions of good union jobs by building high quality public housing. We could take housing – especially empty homes and apartments – into democratic public ownership, and ensure housing as a right for working people.