Burlington Tenants United is a tenant-led organization fighting for an end to the commodification of housing. We are organizing for working-class community control over how and where we live. Our most practical line of work is building tenant associations and creating a network of tenants prepared to mobilize in support of one another using a diversity of tactics in the face of the exploitative and inhumane practices of local landlords.
Below are our organizational Points Of Unity, drafted and formalized Fall 2022
I. HOUSING FOR PROFIT CAN NEVER BE HOUSING FOR ALL
We want truly decent, democratized, and decommodified housing for all. Housing as a commodity is created by workers but manipulated by capitalists seeking profits above all else to the detriment of working class people. The day to day violence of housing injustice– rent, evictions, and restrictions– is upheld and enforced by courts, cops, and other capitalist institutions designed to protect ownership at the expense of human beings. Everyone needs a place to live, but nobody needs a landlord.
II. THIS IS A CRISIS OF TENANCY
Our definition of tenant is anyone who does not own and control housing and real estate. This is a crisis of the working class’ place within an exploitative system so we fight for tenants, not for housing. Our question is not just “to build or not to build” housing, but “how do we organize the entire housing system?”– our answer is, “with the demands of tenants at the core”. Our existence as tenants is our common ground and the shared condition we struggle against. We stand with tenants around the world and recognize our position inside the world’s imperialist power requires us to adhere to an anti-imperialist framework in our analysis and actions.
III. WORKING CLASS COMMUNITY CONTROL OF HOUSING IS THE ONLY VIABLE SOLUTION
We recognize gentrification, homelessness, and our overall undignified living conditions as purposeful and produced by landlords, developers, business owners, politicians, and the capitalist system they operate within. The properties landlords use to extract rents sit on land stolen from the Wabanaki Confederacy. Burlington Tenants United supports demands for Land Back as an important component of working class community control. Our goal is a regional tenants “union of unions” to counter the power of landlords and the current system of housing governance through collective action.
IV. ORGANIZED RESISTANCE IS NECESSARY FOR RADICAL SOCIAL TRANSFORMATION
We will not win if we fight alone. Our most practical line of work is organizing tenant associations and creating a network of tenants prepared to mobilize in support of one another. We are a movement organization, not a nonprofit or service with funding and staff. We are run by and for our members– working class tenants.
V. EVERY TENANT HAS SOMETHING TO OFFER
Sustaining the political power to transform our relationship within the capitalist system requires us to be intentional in our relationships with one another. Our solidarity is expressed by creating a community of care for ourselves and each other; deconstructing oppressive biases and behaviors; taking a thoughtful, proactive approach towards access needs; working through conflict generatively; and honoring our commitments to our shared struggle. We are invested in learning with each other and developing the leadership capacity of everyone collectively.