We need a tenants union in Portland, Maine. There are rumors of threats of city code enforcement cracking down on landlords in response to the tragic Noyse Street fire. This would result in who-knows-how-many hundreds, if not thousands, of evictions of low income, mostly subsidized (disabled, mentally ill, single mothers, elderly and those transitioning out of homelessness, etc) renters.
If this is allowed to happen it will cause an explosion in the homeless population, at the beginning of winter, with an already overflowing shelter system, leaving hundreds out in the cold.
People die every year in Portland, Maine, camping outside during the winter. This is not a passive social issue that will always be there, and we cant do anything about it. It’s an active and ongoing violation of peoples rights to safe, stable housing.
Here the housing access crisis is being escalated by poor local policy and landlord negligence. If this were done intentionally, it would be an act of war on the poor. Assuming negligence, its an act of social and political incompetence on part of our city representatives and staff, and property owners in the city.
Clearly we need our own voice, to advocate for ourselves, prevent unjust evictions, fight for rent controls, programs for residence to co-operativize neglected homes using sweat equity, and reign in the housing market a bit to slow down rampant gentrification.
The time is right, strategically, the political dialogue has been primed, people are pissed, for a lot of different reasons, and with winter coming, we don’t have time to wait.
Organize your roommates, the floor of your building, the whole thing, other buildings owned by the same landlord, or on your block, with other organized tenants groups around the city, etc., and lets work together to grow, not just in numbers, but in solidarity as communities.
-Michael Anthony, Portland