“We Deserve Rent Control”: Radical care disruptions in rent control movements in Seattle, USA

Authors: Samantha Thompson*, University of Washington
Topics: Urban Geography, Social Geography
Keywords: radical care, housing justice, rent control, housing movements, care geographies
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/9/2021
Start / End Time: 1:30 PM / 2:45 PM
Room: Virtual 31
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Rent control is largely conceptualized through economistic debates that lack an intersectional analysis. Yet, our understanding of rent control and the movements advocating for these policies would benefit from a reframing that emphasizes relationality, housing as more than a commodity, and engages with language used in housing movements themselves. To address this gap, I propose three core approaches to produce a radical care framework that will deepen our understanding of housing politics and movements. Radical care positions itself as a collective response to immediate crises and precarious futures. Further, through documentary analysis of materials from rent control movements in Seattle, USA, I apply this framework to illustrate the intimate relationship between care, housing movements, and demands for rent control. I argue that rent control movements are enacting a care practice and politics which underscores the importance of further developing theorizations of the relationship between housing and care, as well as expanding the boundaries of what is theorized as care work and care politics. Finally, I emphasize that interpreting rent control through radical care expands theorizations of housing movements beyond class-based analyses and points to housing futures grounded in racial, social, and housing justice that refuse racial capitalism and settler colonialism.

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