Activists push to #CancelRent as pandemic drags on

Housing activists in New York are calling for the cancellation of rent for the duration of the pandemic, echoing other rallies and strikes nationwide, as many Americans struggling to make monthly rent payments face eviction.

NEW YORK HOUSING ACTIVIST, DAWN MILLER: "I have not worked since March 11, 2020."

#CancelRent movement activist Dawn Miller was a food server at Brooklyn College until she was laid off a year ago when the pandemic began and is currently facing a 14-day notice to vacate her Brooklyn building:

"...we are fighting for rent to be canceled, which means we don't want rent to be canceled forever. We are asking for rent cancelation, so for the duration of the pandemic. Until we are able to go out there and work where we can pay our rental. If we are not working and there is no way we can pay the rent."

Since last spring, over 280,000 tenants have been evicted in 27 U.S. cities, according to data from Princeton University's Eviction Lab.

And roughly $57 billion is owed in back rent, according to Moody's Analytics.

Other activists like Fitroy Christian are calling for more federal relief to help tenants pay back rent.

"In 2008, the last serious economic downturn that we had, they found a way to find trillions of dollars for the super-wealthy. Overnight, they found it. We're saying it is time for tenants and poor people to get that type of consideration."

Landlords - some of whom haven't been paid in nearly a year - say they are hurting financially too, and are being unfairly vilified for a housing crisis created by a once-in-a-century health crisis.

Meanwhile Miller, a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Jamaica, says this year has been especially tough for her and her family:

"I am the sole breadwinner. And I have to be going out independently to join the long food lines to get some food. It's, it's been a very difficult year finding food and trying to find work. But putting my health at risk to find work at the same time, it's hard."

Video Transcript

- (SINGING) Oh, the rent. Oh, the rent. Oh, the rent is too damn high.

- Housing activists in New York are calling for the cancellation of rent for the duration of the pandemic, echoing other rallies and strikes nationwide as many Americans are struggling to make monthly rent payments face eviction.

DAWN MILLER: I have not worked since March 11, 2020.

- #CancelRent movement activist Dawn Miller was a food server at Brooklyn College until she was laid off a year ago when the pandemic began and is currently facing a 14-day notice to vacate her Brooklyn building.

DAWN MILLER: We're fighting for rent to be canceled, which means we don't want rent to be cancelled forever. We are asking for rent cancellation for the duration of the pandemic, until we are able to go out there and work, where we can pay our rent. If we are not working, there is no way we can pay the rent.

- Since last spring, over 280,000 tenants have been evicted in 27 US cities, according to data from Princeton University's Eviction Lab. And roughly $57 billion is owed in back rent according to Moody's analytics. Other activists, like Fitroy Christian, are calling for more federal relief to help tenants pay back rent.

- In 2008, the last serious economic downturn that we had, they found a way to find trillions of dollars to help the super wealthy. Overnight, they found it. We are saying it is time for tenants and poor people to get that type of consideration.

- Landlords, some of whom haven't been paid in nearly a year, say they are hurting financially too and are being unfairly vilified for a housing crisis created by once-in-a-century health crisis. Meanwhile, Miller, a naturalized US citizen who was born in Jamaica, says this year has been especially tough for her and her family.

DAWN MILLER: I'm the sole breadwinner, and I have to be going out independently to join the long food lines to get some food. It's been a very difficult year finding food and trying to find work, but putting my health, my health at risk to find work at the same time. It's hard.