More than the virus, the failure of the government to address major social issues like poverty, housing, food security, and gender based violence is what is putting us in danger now and long-term. Many of us organising this rent strike believe that this is just how governments function, and that it’s our job as regular people to come together to fulfil our own needs rather than have representatives pretend to do things in our interest.
However, we are open to a multi-pronged approach, and have built a working group focused on lobbying and petitioning, for all those who wish to take that forward. Some of the demands we are taking forward are the following.
All levels of government must take measures to allow people to shelter-in-place so that we can be safe, healthy, and fed during this period. Especialy in a pandemic, shelter-in-place is healthcare. That means:
- Reinstate the complete moratorium on evictions through lockdown levels 1-5
- Cancel rent (no paying back later) for all individuals who do not or are unable to work at whatever level of lockdown we are in. If you're only allowed to work in Level 1, you shouldn't have to pay rent until then
- Suspend (not defer) mortgages and foreclosures
- Reduce or eliminate utilities bills
- Stop evictions of land occupations as we have seen in eThekwini and Khayelitsha
- Guaranteed income, data, food, proper water and sanitation, rubbish removal services to all spaces (especially and including informal settlements).
- All residents of shack settlements who test positive for the virus must be given safe and dignified accommodation in which they can self-isolate. Where necessary appropriate buildings can be requisitioned for this purpose.
- All calls for a Basic Income Grant must include a demand for bond and rent freezes, or else the basic income grants will effectively be bank and landlord bailouts
- Broad, general, debt relief across all low and medium income groups.