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Calum Heath for Money

Rent strikes are surging across the U.S. amid the coronavirus pandemic and its economic fallout.

This tool of objection, which has a long history dating back to the 1800s, has found new footing as millions of Americans lose their livelihoods.

For renters in New York, San Francisco, and other cities with a particularly high cost of living, COVID-19 has turned entire apartment buildings into hubs of community organizing. In an April 27 virtual town hall, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called for Governor Andrew Cuomo to cancel rent and mortgage payments across the state.

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“People aren’t striking because they don’t feel like paying rent," she said. "They’re striking because they can’t.”