Housing Struggles and the Working Class

Socialism 2018

July 05, 2018

On April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. In the weeks that followed, over a hundred cities across the country erupted in rebellion -- not only in response to King's death, but to demand an end to the systemic racism that was strangling Black communities -- especially substandard, overpriced, and segregated housing.Just a week later, Congress passed the Fair Housing Act, which had stalled for months, before mass rebellions forced it through. It was the first major federal legislation since the Reconstruction era to address the long history of racism and discrimination in the housing system, from the denial of mortgage credit to Black communities through "red lining," racist restrictive covenants, and much more.Despite the stated goals of the Fair Housing Act to end discrimination and create fairness in the housing system, the inequality, instability, and oppression that drove working class and poor communities to fight for better housing 50 years ago remain features of everyday life for millions of working class people in the US and around the world. Evictions and foreclosures continue to devastate whole communities, as rents skyrocket and banks continue to issue subprime mortgage loans.Under capitalism, housing is simply a commodity to be bought and sold on the market for the highest profit, regardless of the human consequences. But people have always fought back against housing oppression. From small-scale acts of resistance, to the organizing of tenant unions and rent strikes, to urban rebellions -- history demonstrates that housing struggles have always been an important part of movements for justice.Join us to discuss the place of housing under capitalism, the history of struggles for decent housing, and what a genuinely fair housing could look like.

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