Housing is a human right, not a commodity to be traded on the market at the expense of people. We want to stop the trifecta of landlords, city government, and developers who profit from controlling our access to shelter by building tenant power from the bottom up.
In the Puget Sound region, developer and landlord profits have been consistently prioritized over our quality of life. Existing avenues for combating rising rents, slumlord behavior, and evictions usually go through non-profit organizations. While these organizations can provide important resources for tenants, they’re unable to challenge the root of the problem that we face: the subjugation of housing to the market. The only way we can end the exploitation of everyone’s need for shelter is to get organized and make our demands heard together.
We encourage tenants of private landlords and public housing to join us and organize your buildings and communities. If you want to help lower rents, ensure timely maintenance, end landlord harassment, or solve any other housing issue—get ahold of us!
Landlordism is Unconscionable
Everyone has an innate need for shelter. Having a roof over our heads and space to call our own is crucial for our physical and psychological safety, and equitable access to humane housing is as much a human right as food, healthcare, and freedom from physical violence. Landlords and developers exploit that basic need to put money in their pockets. They can raise rents higher and higher and treat their tenants like dirt, and no one can do anything about it alone. We hand them most of our income and take their abuse not because they provide us with value, but because they happened to have enough money to buy a whole building.
No system can possibly be humane when the price we pay just to survive is determined by the market. When landlords say “you may only keep your home if you make more money every year and hand it over to me,” they force tenants to grind themselves to the bone in service of capital. In return, the state—acting as the strongarm of capitalism—rewards the landlord with property rights and legal protections that give them ever more power over their tenants. And it ensures that the alternatives, being unhoused or imprisoned, are horrific enough that each tenant feels like they have no choice but to succumb.
We Fight Back
Together, we don’t have to bend down before property owners. They may have more power than any of us as individuals, but all they have is what they take from us. Hand in hand, building by building, we are more powerful than they could possibly be. Collective action such as rent striking and mass mobilization is what landlords and developers fear because it builds enough power among tenants to demand change, not just ask for it. Once tenants come together and realize that as a group they have the power to dramatically improve their own lives, more and more groups can link together to build ever more collective power.
PSTU is the link between those groups. We are made up of tenants who are organizing buildings and we exist to help get new buildings organized and make it easy for different tenant associations to work together to achieve goals beyond a single building, like tenant-owned housing and an end to gentrification. We’re focused on a bottom-up strategy for achieving our goals. Change comes when those who are exploited gather enough collective power to force an end to exploitation, not when we convince courts or elected officials that it’s the right thing to do.
Anyone in the Puget Sound region who’s organizing your building or complex is welcome to reach out and join us, as long as you aren’t a landlord, employer, or cop. PSTU has no room for people who use their wealth to profit from others’ need to survive, or who violently enforce unjust laws.