Living Rent Making Progress

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meeting with living rent members and others at University of Glasgow

Glasgow      Another day, another city, another screening, more discussion of Nuts & Bolts, and a chance to catch up with things in Scotland, including the progress of the Living Rent campaign, an affiliate of ACORN, as well as the Radical Learning Network being organized by our colleague Dave Beck of the University of Glasgow.

Living Rent is of course a great name for the campaign, much as Living Wages was our standard for the many campaigns to raise minimum wages to living wages in the United States and Canada.  Recently, the Living Rent “Winter Break” campaign got a huge lift after months of work when the leader of the Scottish Labor Party publicly indicated that our position needed study, followed by the leader of the majority Scottish National Party also agreeing that thorough evaluation was needed.  The demand has been that there would be no rental evictions during the winter months from November 1st until March 31st.  Caught now in the throes of the Siberian cold front they are calling the “beast from the east” in all the news reports, politicians may be racing to jump on the Living Rent train.

The other update involved the “rent pressure zones” that we had won from the Scottish Parliament earlier.  These zones are a euphemism for a version of rent controls and would limit allowable rent increases where they are escalating out of control.  Both Glasgow and Edinburgh have been pushing the city councils about the need to create rent pressure zones out of the entire city.  There are already 3000 signatures on petitions making the demand in Edinburgh and Glasgow is not far behind.  In essence we are now putting politicians in our own “pressure zone about rent,” making all of this progress very exciting.

The Radical Learning Network has been an outgrowth of the community development department and its practice at the University of Glasgow by Beck and his colleagues, students and former students.  Launching in December as a Facebook sharing site, 400 have joined in a little more than two months.  The name is somewhat of a mouthful, but the point of the project is to encourage more discussion and therefore experimentation with alternatives in communities to deal with a variety of issues.

After the screening in Glasgow for example I got a lot of questions about the impacts of gentrification and how to deal with it, which is a global problem with increasing force and no conviction of an effective model to offset its impacts.  We also had interesting conversations about how to deal with neighborhoods impacted by deindustrialization, an issue every bit as critical in Scotland and northern England as in Detroit, Youngstown, Cleveland, and other cities.

Great to be part of these discussions with hopes that it produces some new and important directions for future work.