Report from Houston Tenants Union about continuation of rent strike in Houston, Texas which began in the wake of devastating storms in February.
Since the Tenants at Villas Del Paseo delivered demands to their property management on Saturday, the fight has only deepened and grown. The tenants then spent Sunday afternoon, the last day of the month, determined to get support of the strike to a critical mass, which was agreed to be a majority. No easy task going unit by unit in this large apartment complex with hundreds of units and dozens of buildings. A striker and organizer pointed out the importance of unity in an effort to bring support, and that this meant helping people overcome their fear of eviction. The tenants got a resounding “Yes”, and believed the critical mass had been reached, and the strike was born on February 28th.
Tenants connected with local news media who ran multiple stories and also used their own social media to raise the public profile of the strike. They shared their conditions and gave the world a glimpse of the state of disrepair and neglect at Villas Del Paseo, including the filthy green pool water and emails from management suggesting it be used.
Retaliation came swiftly against Jider, who has been a leader in the strike. Management is trying to target the leadership by saying to fix the water, they need to destroy this tenant’s home. They then told him because he spoke to the media, they refuse to relocate him! The tenants however are solid and resilient, not falling for any divide and conquer tactics, and demand that he be relocated to another unit while water is fixed.
On Wednesday, the majority that had been reached in the rent strike became clear when the tenants rallied to confirm they were continuing the rent strike past the third day and until all demands were met, and delivered further demands to management. Since then, the strikers have organized themselves further, and gotten more strikers in touch with each other. This is a challenge in the COVID-19 era where we have to limit how often we gather in person, but these tenants are willing to overcome all kinds of obstacles.
Management continues to give promise after promise that goes unmet each day, even promising water tankers, in a series of emails that grows every day. Since before the strike began, tenants have been trying to supply each other with water. Houston IWW and Houseless Organizing Coalition assisted Houston Tenants Union in delivering bottled water to Villas Del Paseo. Management took some of this water and locked it in the leasing office, tried to supply their own water, and other efforts to break the strike.
On Friday, water was suddenly turned back on for a short few minutes, but not without causing significant damage to the tenant’s homes. This is clearly an insult to injury. Strikers also confronted the management for hoarding water which was donated to the tenants by the city, and again locking it in their leasing office. The tenants remain resolute, and now a week into their public fight, the strike continues. Looking for ways to help? Please keep an eye on our socials for upcoming phone and email campaigns, and please share everything widely. Please also consider sharing and donating to the tenant’s strike fund.