The increasing number of unhoused people across the United States is a health and social crisis. As rents soar, interest rates rise, and global private equity firms scoop up properties to maximize profits, more people live in precarious conditions, often exposed to dangerous climate and human elements. One person's debt and suffering are often another's asset and profit-maker.
In New York City especially, but in major urban areas across the US, private buildings that their owners abandoned during the 1970s and 1980s – and often set afire for insurance fraud – were often re-occupied by people needing housing.
"Developed in collaboration with tenant organizations from across the city, We Won't Move: Tenants Organize in NYC explores the city's rich history of tenant struggle, including neighborhood resistance to urban renewal in the South Bronx, de-segregation struggles at Stuyvesant Town and in Brooklyn, rent strikes in Harlem and Bedford-Stuyvesant, the coordinated takeover of vacant housing during Operation Move-In, and repeated campaigns to renew and strengthen the rent laws."
Published in an English/Spanish bilingual edition that includes a directory of tenant services and resources, archival photographs, and the ever-useful reading tool, a glossary of terms.
"The mission of Interference Archive is to explore the relationship between cultural production and social movements. This work manifests in an open stacks archival collection, publications, a study center, and public programs including exhibitions, workshops, talks, and screenings, all of which encourage critical and creative engagement with the rich history of social movements."
As long as public education, housing, health care, transportation, water, and food are commodities and not human rights, unhoused populations will continue to characterize capitalist societies organized around a myth of meritocracy, violent and greedy competition, accumulation through dispossession, dominion over the earth and her resources, and hierarchies of human worth. The root cause of homelessness and the increasing unhoused population is how USian society is organized economically; it is not the fault of people who do not have a place to live. When reporters, writers, artists, and others cease to ignore the role capitalism plays in conditioning homelessness, perhaps a different meaning and naming of the cause can consequence a different response.
In 2020, Don Mitchel published Mean Streets Homelessness, Public Space, and the Limits of Capital, the most extensively researched study of the root causes and meanings of why homelessness continues to exist.