The basic view at hand is the people’s right to and the struggle for low cost housing. However this struggle, as in all other struggle, will proceed in stages. Due to the urgency and time limitation (the lease is up in June ’72) of the I-Hotel situation, the first stage of the struggle is to win the I-Hotel battle for a new and favorable lease. The main force will be the tenants who are most affected by eviction. Also, in the I-Hotel struggle it is they who can most effectively wage legal battles with the landlord, Shorenstein.
In the course of our struggle it is essential that we do well-planned propaganda work in Chinatown to inform the people on their right to low cost housing and how it can be fought for. We consider the mass meeting which was discussed at the last meeting as the first step toward this direction. We have learned from our past experience ( i.e., having grew up in or around Chinatown, having worked in the Community for almost three years, and having constant discussions with Community People from various progressive backgrounds) that there is always a qualitative difference between understanding the issue and taking action. And we must not confuse ourselves by believing that if there is understanding by the community then there will necessarily be action.
It is obvious that People who are from Chinatown understand the housing situation better than those who are not from Chinatown. The latter also understand it only in abstracts. Thus what needs to be done is not to underestimate the People’s level of understanding by putting out empty leaflets on the need for better and low cost housing, but rather we should find concrete means or examples to demonstrate the People’s right to low cost housing and how it can be obtained (both in maintaining existing ones and building new ones.) As a first step we must unite with the tenants to negotiate and fight for a favorable new lease. At the same time we will inform the community of the process, and work with any progressive elements who will come to our support. In this manner we will demonstrate concretely the undefeatable strength of a united and determined people.
We have had many serious and thorough discussions with Community People in the past weeks. It is their view that raising the demand for new low cost housing for the elderly on the Kearny block will neither hurt nor substantially increase active Community support. Due to a century of oppression and intimidation of the Chinese people by the american racist society, it has robbed them of much self-confidence. Thus active support for the low cost housing issue will need time to nurture and build up.
The People whom we had discussion with also strongly believe that tenants play the most crucial role in the I-Hotel struggle. All organizations and individuals should support them with manpower, publicity, funds, and research. Having united with tenants of I-Hotel we should proceed to isolate Shorenstein and negotiate for a favorable renewal of the lease.
We have benefitted greatly from our discussions with the Community People. One of the many things we have learned from them was the necessity to talk with a broader segment of the Community to get a well balanced view of the situation.