Table of Contents
- What You Need To Know
- Why You Should Care
- Interview: Lawrence DSA Housing Working Group Chair
- Jargon Giraffe
- Get Involved
- Get Informed
- Going Forward
- Socialist Horoscope
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
- Half of Lawrence is made up of renters, many living in buildings that cost far too much and don’t meet basic needs.
- Some buildings aren’t even accessible to those with disabilities, the elderly, or families with small children, yet Lawrence has one of the highest rent rates in Kansas.
- Most renters don’t dare speak out for fear of landlords and property management groups, who wield considerable political influence and can retaliate through harassment or even eviction.
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
- When renters can be intimidated into silence and forced to accept unacceptable conditions, the entire Lawrence community suffers.
- Landlords and property management groups count on the fact that, because so many renters are college students, it’s harder to organize and fight for more affordable and dignified housing, which makes organizing all the more necessary.
- When renters come together to connect, discover common hardships, and learn about opportunities to organize so that no one has to be afraid to speak out against unsafe and unfair housing, everyone wins.
Lawrence DSA Housing Working Group Chair
Why did you get involved with this issue and what are DSA’s concerns and goals regarding housing in Lawrence?
Our chapter’s biggest concerns with housing right now are making sure renters are protected. Lawrence has one of the highest rent rates in the state of Kansas. Many renters live in buildings that cost too much and provide too little. This issue affects people from all backgrounds and it is a working class struggle. We want to hear tenants’ struggles and give them the tools to get material change in their lives.
Many buildings in town are not accessible. A lot of apartment complexes are not accommodating to individuals with disabilities, the elderly, and to families with small children. Landlords’ desire to take a few extra dollars profit will always come before tenants’ need to live.
Half of Lawrence is renters and I see that we have the potential to tap into real power. By bringing people together on this issue we can bring solidarity and power to the working class.
What do you see as the biggest challenges facing renters in Lawrence?
Coming up against the landlords and the property management groups – the landlord class holds a lot of political power and capital. It can be intimidating to even start to think of standing up against this class, especially since they have a lot of pull in local government and city boards. When doing this work, there is also the fear of being evicted or harassed by your landlord. It is important to remember that we as the working class can come together. There are many of us and only a few of them.
Given Lawrence is a college town with students who might rent for only a few years, how would you respond to students who might ask why they should be invested in Lawrence’s housing issues?
As college gets more expensive, a lot of students worry about making rent. It is not unusual for students to use student loans to cover basic living expenses. Students should not have to worry if they are going to make rent. Whether students stay in Lawrence for life or only a few years, tenant organizing and solidary are a powerful tool everywhere. Fighting for housing is not just a Lawrence issue but a global issue.
What will be covered during the DSA teach-in?
We want to bring renters together to discuss issues they are facing. By bringing renters together, we can discover the ongoing and shared issues with landlords and property management companies. Along with airing grievances, we can build solidarity across the community. This is the first of many steps to come together as the working class. Housing affects people of all walks of life since everyone needs a place to live. When renters share their issues, the actions necessary become more apparent.
What are the long term goals of DSA in regards to housing and what do you see as the stakes moving forward?
We hope to see renters start to organize. To not only hold the landlord class accountable but to dictate how housing should be as the working class. To have housing that is not only affordable and safe but to also be accommodating to all.
🦒 JARGON GIRAFFE
n. Definitions you need to follow along
Ex: What the hell are you talking about? Get the jargon giraffe!
- Property Management Group – A company that owns and maintains a series of rentals. Many apartment complexes and neighborhoods around Lawrence are owned by property management groups.
- Landlord – A landlord is someone who owns land, and rather than make money by working, takes money from people who do work by charging them rent to live.
- Tenant – A tenant, like most people, doesn’t legally own the place he lives. Because of this, he is forced to pay the owner the money he earns by working, or else become homeless.
- Profit – The difference between the amount a landlord earns from tenants in rent and the amount spent on upkeep of the property. Landlords seeking to increase their profits generally will raise rent on tenants and/or spend less on the property(ies) they own. They make the most money by charging renters more and keeping conditions bad.
- Rent – Unlike payment for a good or service, rent is something owners charge even though they have contributed no work or value to the property. Rent in Lawrence is among the highest in all of Kansas.
- Property – Land owned or possessed by a landlord they then charge others to use.
DSA Housing Teach-In
January 31, 2019
Lawrence Public Library, Auditorium
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
More2 (Kansas City, MO)
Just Shelter (National)
State and Local Resources
Information for KU Students
Editor’s Recommended Reading
- Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City – Matthew Desmond
- A Short History of the U.S. Working Class – Paul LeBlanc
- The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America – Richard Rothstein
The purpose of THE FREE STATE WORKER is to inform you about political issues, legislative proposals, and upcoming events that affect Lawrence. We will also highlight work being done by Lawrence DSA and other activist organizations to benefit our community, the state, and country as a whole.
However, to best serve Lawrence, we need to hear from you. Please contact us to share how you think we can improve our newsletter or if you’d like to learn about how you can get involved with future issues.
We look forward to hearing from you.
The Lawrence DSA Newsletter Team
The stars will outlive capitalism by many unfathomable leagues of time. It is to them, then, that we look for wisdom and guidance.
- Jan 20th – Sun enters Aquarius
- Jan 21st – Full Moon, Total Lunar Eclipse in Leo
- Jan 24th – Mercury enters Aquarius
The lunar eclipse will leave us all feeling like we want something. Full moons magnify our problems, so they may seem big and overwhelming, but they also offer the opportunity to closely inspect things, to get up close and see the surface.
Perhaps you don’t believe in making resolutions. That’s fine. But you can’t help noticing new shoots cropping up out of the winter dirt. They’re not resolutions. They’re passions, red as roses, waiting for you to pluck them.
You know your instinct to hunker down. You want to protect it. Expand your definition of home. Think about working on your chapter’s Housing Committee.
The full moon is going to make you feel a little crazy, but in a good way. There’s a lot going on right now. You are confident in your ability to get things done. Focus on your ability to make connections.
You’ve been feeling good and you’ve been feeling guilty about it. Shake off the guilt and revel in the small pleasures of being a person. Take care of yourself and you’ll find extra energy to spare. Perhaps volunteer some of that energy in a chapter working group.
You’re still riding the new year high. You can see it – big plans are forming on the horizon. Use your charm to bring people together. Try canvassing.
Breathe. Stop and breathe. Find a moment of stillness so quiet it could tear the world apart. The more of these moments you find, the stronger you’ll be. Soldiers of the revolution need sleep too.
Your confidence and charisma are running hot. You’re fired up about a new person or project. Follow that energy through, don’t let it fizzle out.
The full moon will leave you feeling lots of feelings. Somewhere buried in there is a secret. When you find it, a piece of your heart will unlock. Don’t be afraid to go through whatever was opened up in you. It might be a good idea to talk your way through this experience with comrades and friends.
The full moon shines a clarifying light on something you’ve been studying for a long time. Expect to find something new in a familiar place. The surprise might leave you shook, but work with it.
You’re wound up like a top. Would you rather spin out of control, topple over, or move with purpose? Find a way to make circular motion propel you forward.
This eclipse hits a little too close to home. You’ll be asked to evaluate what you hold dear. In your intimate, day to day life, what’s serving you and what’s holding you back? Identify sources of toxic energy and get rid of them. It might be something as small as your insecurities, or as big as neoliberal capitalism. Do the work.
Something big is coming to a close for you. How do we gracefully exit something that has served us well? By holding the door open behind us. Make eye contact with the person coming in.