The Right to Housing is Becoming a Reality
Backed by faith communities, the housing justice movement is racking up wins against landlords and banks profiting off of what should be a human right.
Apryl Lewis is in a housing fight — again. This time, she is pushing to keep dozens of families from being put out of a Charlotte extended-stay motel that is scheduled to be shut down in a matter of weeks. Such motels cost as much as $500 each week, expensive compared to long-term housing. But many of these families are living paycheck-to-paycheck or on fixed incomes, and have no other option.
“They can’t afford the move-in costs for an apartment,” Lewis said. “Landlords want up-front rent and utilities and a security deposit. Now they are even making people pay for rental insurance.”
Others stay at the motel because they are shut out of traditional housing due to a past eviction or criminal record. Some simply can’t find a suitable place to live in a time when rental vacancies are at historic lows.
The good news for the motel residents is that this is not Lewis’s first fight. An organizer for Action NC, Lewis coordinated “Cancel Rent” protests at the local courthouse in the early days of the COVID pandemic, led tenants in chants of “housing is a human right” at various government meetings, and organizes canvassing and phone banks, pulling together tenants to advocate for their rights. A current focus is calling out corporate landlords, like the one in Charlotte who was repeatedly cited for refusing to address rampant mold, vermin and dangerous wiring.