In light of the COVID-19 crisis, the Brooklyn Housing Working Group is organizing buildings (safely), collecting stories from neighbors, and working with the NYC-DSA candidates to develop mutual aid networks. Sign up here to be part of the working group’s COVID-19 organizing plan.
The working group has partnered with the Housing Justice for All campaign and the Right to Counsel coalition to successfully call for an eviction moratorium in New York. Housing Courts in New York State are now CLOSED for the foreseeable future. This is the strongest eviction moratorium in the country, which means if someone can’t pay the rent right now their landlord cannot take them to court until after the crisis is over. The eviction moratorium is critical while the crisis continues, but preparations need to be made for the future–otherwise courts will reopen and evictions will surge. Many New Yorkers will not be able to pay the back rent owed that accumulates during this time. Rent, mortgage, or utility payment owed or accumulated during the length of this crisis should be canceled. This is why the working group, in coalition with Housing Justice for All and Right to Counsel, are calling to #CancelRent amidst the crisis. Sign the petition here to get involved.
Debt and Finance Working Group
The Debt and Finance Working Group is looking for new OC members! Currently, they have 7 OC members, and are looking to expand 9 people to support the group’s continued growth. People who have experience or are interested in internal growth and building capacity within the working group, as well as those who complement OC members currently focused on external campaign work, are especially encouraged to apply.
The working group continues to develop the “Our Shared Economy” campaign for taxation reform. Earlier this year, they hosted a “Make Billionaires Pay” town hall with coalition partners New York Communities for Change and Make the Road. During this town hall, the working group presented their taxation platform for New York State. We heard from DSA members and allies Jasmin Sanchez, Labiba Chowdury, Mark Hannay and Victor Jordan about the need for new taxation revenue to fund the things required for a socialist world: NYCHA, free higher education, Medicaid and a Green New Deal in New York. This DSA revenue campaign has involved all the working group’s priority campaigns, including Medicare for All, Green New Deal, and Housing as a Human Right.
The working group has also been working on four tax bills, and are looking forward to introducing these bills with Assembly Member Kim. These bills will end some of the tax carve outs that the rich have been able to secure for themselves, and are expected to raise significant revenue to fund programs devoted to economic justice.
The working group’s public banking campaign has traveled to Albany and conducted outreach at both Nassau DSA and Suffolk DSA. The working group also saw the introduction of their edits to the New York Public Banking Act, which is co-sponsored by Sen. Salazar, as well as introduction of an identical bill in the New York State Assembly.
The working group has an upcoming meeting, tentatively in early April, that will be held via Zoom. You can contact the working group at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recently, the Ecosocialist Working Group had their first strategy call to discuss an immediate COVID-19 strategy. Currently, the plan is to redirect efforts in the immediate future to organizing around COVID-19 response.
The response teams are focusing on:
- Political Education (creating materials for webinars politicizing the current crisis)
- Internal Organizing (increasing member participation, checking in on members, identify members who would be comfortable giving those webinars)
- External Organizing (demands on political leaders, phone banking and mobilizing to regular calls)
Lower Manhattan Housing
LoMan Housing is celebrating a major victory after over a year of organizing with the Coalition to Protect Chinatown and the Lower East Side to build community resistance to the four proposed luxury megatowers on the waterfront in the low-income Two Bridges neighborhood. The towers would have inevitably led to a profound increase in displacement, and a reduction in services for low-income communities of color throughout Chinatown and the LES. Despite repeated claims that the towers were “a done deal” from de Blasio and Councilmember Margaret Chin, a judge ruled in favor of our coalition’s lawsuit, finding the City to be in violation of the underlying zoning laws, and declaring the approval of the towers null and void. There will surely be appeals and many future threats to the neighborhood, but for now the coalition has helped to beat back a major threat to one of Lower Manhattan’s last working-class communities. The working group will continue to fight to pass the full Chinatown Working Group community plan, which allows for needed development while protecting the existing communities from displacement.
The Queens Housing Working Group spent the last week laying the groundwork for neighborhood mutual aid networks across (mostly western) Queens, as well as linking up with the citywide mutual aid/disaster relief coordinators and networks being built by friendly organizations such as the Ridgewood Tenants Union. At the time of writing, the working group has point people in seven neighborhoods, an intake form, an email (QueensMutualAid@gmail.com), and a Twitter account for updates. If comrades have information on aid networks for their communities,work industries, or anything else that the working group should know about, please reach out. And if you know people in Queens who need assistance, they want to help them!
Religion & Socialism
The Religion & Socialism working group is in the initial planning stages of organizing a preaching series with students and faculty at Union Theological Seminary. The plan is to host events where religious socialists will speak about religious socialism in faith communities.
The working group also hosted a virtual version of the reading group discussion on March 30, which investigated the possibilities of socialist foreign policy from a faith perspective. The readings are available here: http://bit.ly/RSSanctions
Tech Action Working Group OC members Kristen Gonzales and Raksha Muthukumar represented Tech Action at a #NoTechForICE rally in front of Amazon’s Manhattan offices. The protest was organized to commemorate the 1-year anniversary of the successful HQ2 protests, in collaboration with Make the Road, ALIGN, MPower, DRUM, and New York Communities for Change. Find photos/videos from this action on the working group’s Twitter.