U.S activists plan biggest rent strike in decades

A woman raises her fist during a rent strike demonstration in front of the Los Angeles City Hall on Thursday

Thousands of people in the US plan to take part in a rent strike on Friday, calling for state leaders to cancel rent during the coronavirus crisis, writes Guardian US reporter Adam Gabbatt.

Activists in New York, Pennsylvania and California are encouraging tenants to withhold rent, whether they are able to pay or not, to draw attention to the plight of those unable to pay.

The protest is expected to represent the largest coordinated rent strike in America in decades, and comes as the labor department announced another 3.8 million people lost their jobs last week, with pressure growing on state leaders nationwide to increase their efforts on housing.

More than 30 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits in the past six weeks, as the coronavirus has caused widespread business closures.

The New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is among those voicing support for the strikes, which are being coordinated by an array of housing groups.

“People aren’t striking because they don’t feel like paying rent, they’re striking because they can’t,” Ocasio-Cortez said.