Why do they matter now?

New York State’s eviction moratorium ended Oct. 12, and housing court has resumed for some qualifying cases, as it has some other states. The Department of Investigation confirms that marshals can now return to processing evictions though a city directive notes there are important exceptions.

Nationally, there has been a groundswell of the kinds of actions that recall rent strikes of the 1930s, when tenants defied city officials and landlords by returning evicted neighbors and their belongings back into their homes. One tenant association in the Bronx, the borough with the highest rate of evictions, engaged in a strike as the pandemic hit and started to affect jobs. Today, an eviction protest might involve blocking traffic with furniture.

Or activists might lock the doors of a housing court.

A new app called Civvl has emerged, connecting process servers and eviction crews directly with law firms, plaintiffs, landlords and property owners in some cities, and spawning confusion and outrage on social media.

During one recent demonstration calling for rent relief, a group marched to the office of one of Brooklyn’s marshals, protesting the threat of evictions in the age of a pandemic.

This article is part of Retro Report’s “Hitting Home”, a multicity, multiplatform reporting project that examines the process and impact of evictions, providing historical context for the nation’s growing lack of affordable, safe housing. Want to stay up to date on this reporting project? Follow us here, subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Twitter @RetroReport.