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Bailey: Fort Collins residents should go on rent strike

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

Since the stay-at-home order, money has been one of the many things on everyone’s mind. Thousands of Colorado residents have been dismissed or laid off, resulting in people demanding freezes on rent and mortgage payments and forming groups like the Colorado Rent Strike and Eviction Defense. This week, two columnists debate whether or not Fort Collins residents should go on a rent strike. 

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Because of the stay-at-home order and its economic impacts, the stock market has taken rapid dives, and unemployment claims have jumped 3,000% since before the coronavirus pandemic hit the United States. COVID-19 has hit our nation hard in a multitude of ways, and the economy is certainly one of them.

And still, everyone needs to buy food, pay rent and get by — American capitalism has little room for empathy or situation, so it’s up to the people to make room for it. One way people are doing that all over the nation is by going on rent strikes.

I believe that’s what should happen here in Fort Collins so that our residents can better weather this crisis.

I’m not saying that landlords don’t deserve any dues for their work or the property they own, but landlords in general have also not been anything close to the heroes of this pandemic.

Across the nation, rent prices are still going up month per month. In our own state, Colorado Springs is one of the top five cities for fastest year-by-year rent growth in the nation. The truth is that rent rates aren’t slowing nearly anywhere. 

This isn’t true of every landlord, but a lot of landlords are acting like vultures, trying to grind every penny they can out of their tenants.

The best way to do that is the simplest — organize with fellow citizens and refuse to pay your rent.”

However, for every cruel landlord wringing people dry, there are people like Mario Salerno, who forgave April rent for 200 tenants in Brooklyn, New York. Those people are wonderful and are an example of what humanity could be.

That’s where the rent strikes come in. If your rent isn’t being waived and you’ve lost your job because it doesn’t exist anymore and you can’t leave your house to look for another one, what can you do? You have to fight against the capitalist system that has taken this crisis and made it worse. The best way to do that is the simplest — organize with fellow citizens and refuse to pay your rent.

It’s forcing the outcome that empathy would bring if it were there. Yes, many landlords also rely on that money to make ends meet, so the solution doesn’t have to be paying no rent until the crisis is over. This strike can be pay what you can so we can all get by.

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The demand of landlords that they should keep making the same amount of money while everyone else is struggling to eat is a selfish one. Landlords do provide a necessary service of shelter. In the United States, it does take money for your basic needs to be met, so for now, landlords do need to be paid. However, landlords cannot and should not be paid in full until this crisis is over and people can safely get back to work.

We are all doing a service to one another right now by staying home. We are all making this crisis a little better and saving lives by staying home and away from one another. For that service, citizens deserve something as well, even if it’s just not getting annihilated by our rent.

So go on strike; don’t pay your full rent for as long as we’re on a stay-at-home order. Pay what you can and survive. If we all do that, then we should all be able to muddle through together. If you’re a penny-pinching landlord who is still increasing rent prices, grow a heart and practice empathy before we all force you to.

Read the opposing column here

Fynn Bailey can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @FynnBailey.

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