Struggles Over and Beyond Rent: An Exchange

Authors: Amanda Huron*, University of the District of Columbia, Neil Gray, University of Glasgow
Topics: Urban Geography, Europe, United States
Keywords: housing, rent, Britain, Ireland, Washington DC
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Maryland C, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper take a comparative approach to investigating struggles over housing and rent in the cases of Ireland and the UK on the one hand, and the U.S. city of Washington, D.C., on the other. The authors have both studied the movements they write about, and are also actively involved in these movements. We emphasize the importance of taking a historical approach to studying problems of housing and rent, highlighting key particularities of place — as well as emphasizing more generalizable aspects of the struggles we’ve studied and been involved in. We consider the identity of “the tenant” in housing struggle, how it may or may not intersect with other identities, and the strengths and limitations of working with the tenant identity. We discuss the question of “rent,” and what it might mean to move “beyond rent” in our housing struggles — and what happens when tenants get collective control over their housing through creating tenant-owned cooperatives. We consider enemies and allies in the struggles we’ve witnessed, and reflect on how tenants and co-op members we’ve worked with conceive of “home” — and why that matters. Finally, we consider whether the concept of “the commons” is useful in our current struggles over rent, and in imagining a world beyond rent.

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