Dear Comrades and fellow tenants,
We are sharing this message to announce a temporary pause of our Intake Program.
For the past three years (it’s really been three years!) we in Brooklyn Eviction Defense have constantly operated an intake system run by our organizers. We are all worker-tenants who have voluntarily done this labor, barely missing a single day. As we are a revolutionary socialist organization BED is not a non-profit, charity, or NGO: none of us are paid to do this work.
During this time we have launched campaigns and organizing projects alongside hundreds of tenants across Brooklyn. Tenants have called us with eviction notices, unrepentant harassment, dispossessory conditions, apartments falling apart, public housing units in danger of privatization, and after having been locked out, kicked out, or forced out. We have organized with tenants in every corner of Brooklyn; houseless tenants, NYCHA tenants, market-rate tenants, rent-stabilized tenants, victims of deed-theft, and bank-tenants.
When we began our work there was a state-wide eviction moratorium, one created by the radical pressure of a beautiful tenant movement responding to the crisis of COVID-19 . About a year and a half ago, the eviction moratorium was allowed to expire. During the moratorium, our work was, though conscious, largely reactive: we took calls in and responded as best we could with our experience and networks. While we organized some buildings into tenant associations–and always understood an organized community, building, and class to be the best deterrent to dispossession, eviction, violence, and exploitation–much of our work was direct-action-oriented. After the moratorium expired, the number of calls we received ballooned. We were now not only confronting the landlord class on its own, but the landlord class with the full accompaniment of state-sanctioned force in the form of marshalls and the police that back them. We, as a young revolutionary organization, could not respond ably to all of the violence the state and the landlord class were perpetrating. Simultaneously, many of the newer tenant unions that had sprung up during 2019 and 2020 had fallen into disorganization and largely disappeared.
Around this time we made a conscious, collective decision to reorient our project – as guided by our politics and program – toward that of explicit mass work in the form of deep organizing tenant associations and building towards a borough-wide tenant union. We maintained our intake program but worked to facilitate intake calls into deep organizing projects. This was not easy. The crisis facing tenants in Brooklyn is often debilitating and hinders long-term organizing, which requires a certain amount of continuity. Nonetheless, for the past year and a half we have done our best and have, as led by and in solidarity with tenants in their buildings, transformed moments of crisis into collective power.
But, while doing this work, we have lost steam in terms of our intake program. Many organizers who have been doing this for years are experiencing burnout. We simply do not have the energy, capacity, and time to respond to and collaborate with all of the calls we receive on a regular basis. It’s with this in mind that we are announcing a temporary pause to our intake program. As the Union gets its legs underneath it, we will re-envision our intake model such that it will not require such a tremendous effort on the part of our organizers and so that it will not only be sustainable alongside the growth of our Union, but integral to its very growth.
Despite these challenges, the number of buildings we organized increased rapidly (we have over 75 Locals!). But we were met with a new obstacle: how to transform what was a cadre-oriented organization that now has a real base of organized tenants into a truly democratic, protagonistic, independent union. This project is ongoing (please join us at our upcoming General Assembly! July 30th, 2pm at 281 Crown Street to learn more!) but very much happening. We will be holding a Congress of Locals in the coming months where the Union will be concretized. We have been, and are, creating the internal structures–with the lead and input of the tenants in the TAs we have helped organize–that will allow for the organized tenants of the Union to be the historical protagonists that they–we–are.
All Power to the Worker-Tenants,
Brooklyn Eviction Defense Tenant Union