The feeling of home has become an increasingly precarious and temporary experience. Rent is a reminder that we are only paying to linger on someone else’s property. The following month’s rent starts looming as soon as the impact of this month’s payment wears off. The home should be a structure that supports life, a place of comfort and privacy, a place where we don’t have to work. Our homes should offer us immunity from the countless forces acting upon us. In the face of a pandemic, when we “shelter in place” to avoid spreading the virus, the greatest threats to our immunity are the forces that seek to rob us of our homes. With unemployment soaring beyond a staggering 20% due to the pandemic, we must confront the property relations that subject our homes to the pressures of leases and mortgages.
This May, countless people will refuse to pay rent and, with this single gesture, give new meaning to “herd immunity.” Viruses are vectors of information transfer across species and kingdoms; they are masters at synchronizing ecologies. What is possible if we synchronize our actions into a collective refusal? Let us commit together to defend this place we call home.