The Autonomous Tenants’ Union Network (ATUN) is a collaborative of tenants’ unions who have chosen to remain independents of nonprofits, big foundations, and government funding in order to build power that is responsive to and led by tenants. We are committed to base-building, taking leadership from the poorest, and resisting the power of real estate capital to destroy our homes and our communities.” 

– Autonomous Tenants Union Network founding statement

 

The Eviction Defence Network has been a member of ATUN  since January 2021.

Throughout 2020, as the pandemic took hold of our lives and the disastrous responses from governments worsened our precarity and bailed out landlords, banks, and corporations, members of EDN started joining monthly online townhalls organized by the Autonomous Tenants’ Union Network (ATUN). From there, we adapted and applied the lessons learned from other tenants’ groups across the USA to our own work and shared our own experiences in return.

Last year saw tenants’ unions pushing back against the power of landlords and bailiffs. All across the northern part of the continent, tenants blockaded courts, bailiffs’ offices, targeted slumlords and struggled against evictions in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. The global pandemic deepened the global contradiction between life and profit, and these tenant struggles showed that our homes are no less a crux of that contradiction than the government measures that safeguarded profits at the expense of those most vulnerable to contracting and dying from Covid-19.

We joined ATUN because we believe that only working class and Indigenous power can force the hand of the state to adopt reforms that clear the way for our movements to build and institute universal housing – housing for people, not profit. 

For us to build that power, it must be independent from the state as well as depoliticizing and reformist forces like NGOs, advocacy groups, and imperial civil society, all of which see the state as ultimately capable of smoothing and managing the fundamental contradictions of colonial capitalism. 

ATUN is an important network because we need a multiplicity of forces – organizations and fighters in cities and towns throughout the US and Canada, representing different sectors of the working class, Indigenous peoples, and groups oppressed by imperialism fighting for freedom at the site of the home – in order to defend our communities and create a housing system where value is rooted in human and non-human life, rather than capitalist profits. 

Evictions and the destruction of low-income housing are a worldwide phenomenon. In North America, they come at a higher cost for Indigenous communities, who have been dispossessed from their lands and are experiencing homelessness at a disproportionate rate. For Black families, facing the brunt of white supremacy, redlining and the targeting of historical Black neighbourhoods for demolition, evictions are another imperialist and colonial tool that displaces and destroys long term communities for the profit of gentrifiers. 

We are excited about the promises of a movement of many movements that can clear the way for multiple struggles against our common enemies. 

As members of ATUN proved last year, the fight for homes cannot be done outside of movements like those for George Floyd and the Indigenous sovereigntists fighting for Land Back. These are part and parcel of our work. Fighting for homes means fighting against settler colonialism on unsurrendered Indigenous lands. It means fighting against police power in our neighbourhoods.

We’re looking to the year ahead with strengthened spirit alongside ATUN to build the power necessary to defend our homes against the attacks of landlords, developers, police, the courts, and all other branches of the state.