Pets light up #GoodPawsForGoodCause in the fight for New York housing rights

New York, New York - Everyone knows that eviction has a negative effect on the humans who lose their homes, but not everyone realizes the effect it has on animals. A new movement has highlighted homeless pets and the fight to protect housing rights – for us and our cuddly companions.

Cute and cuddly pets have flooded Twitter to support legislation that makes housing more secure for New Yorkers.
Cute and cuddly pets have flooded Twitter to support legislation that makes housing more secure for New Yorkers.  © Collage: Screenshot/ Twitter/Housing Justice for All, Rennete, & DorcaNYC

Pets exploded across Twitter last week, as the hashtag #GoodPawsForGoodCause became top trending in New York state.

Cats and dogs yawned, stretched, cuddled, smiled, and did what pets do best: brighten your Twitter feed and make you say, "Aw!"

But that's not all these trending four-legged friends were doing. They were engaging in some activism.

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How did the trend start?

On February 22, Housing Justice For All, the statewide movement of tenants and homeless New Yorkers working to protect housing rights, posted a tweet asking Twitter users to share their pets in support of Good Cause housing legislation – using the hashtag #GoodPawsForGoodCause.

Ritti Singh, Housing Justice for All's communication manager, spoke to TAG24 NEWS about what inspired the powerful campaign, and the Good Cause evictions protections bill it hopes to help pass in New York.

"Hundreds of people across the state were sharing photos of their pets, and their support for this crucial bill," Ritti said. "That's because policies that keep people – and their furry friends – safe in their homes are wildly popular."

A New York dog inspired the hashtag #GoodPawsForGoodCause

When people lose their homes, so do their furry friends.
When people lose their homes, so do their furry friends.  © Screenshot/Twitter/Emily Gallagher

#GoodPawsForGoodCause was inspired by an actual dog's attendance at a building rally last year in Greenpoint, New York, which supported Good Cause Eviction legislation.

The bill "protects tenants from skyrocketing rent hikes and retaliatory evictions," Ritti said.

With it, "these tenants would have been able to stay safely in their homes."

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At the rally, the presence of an assembly member's dog, named Thelma, led to a joke about pets, and "Good Paws for Good Cause" naturally developed.

The Twitter campaign it inspired was successful because it drove home the idea that evictions are hard on furry New Yorkers too, and the posts connected Twitters users with a link to write to their state representatives and take action.

"A poll from Data For Progress last year found that 2/3 of likely voters support this bill," Ritti said. "#GoodPawsForGoodCause showed that passing Good Cause Evictions isn't just the right thing to do, it's what New Yorkers want their legislators to do."

Pets lose their homes when their humans do

Twitter users have continued to share the hashtag #GoodPawsForGoodCause to bring attention to housing rights and inspire action to help pass legislation.
Twitter users have continued to share the hashtag #GoodPawsForGoodCause to bring attention to housing rights and inspire action to help pass legislation.  © Screenshot/ Twitter/Julia Salazar

According to Housing Justice For All, some 72% of renters have pets.

"When people are evicted or forced out due to a rent hike, they often aren't able to keep their pets," Ritti told TAG24. "People end up in the shelter system, on the streets, or with friends and family, and are forced to give up their companions."

In fact, pet ownership is closely tied to housing issues. In 2022, the New York group Voters for Animal Rights endorsed Good Cause Evictions and put out a memo of support for the bill, titled, Housing Evictions Are Animal Cruelty. Many animal activists agree with the sentiment.

The issues don't just affect New Yorkers, as renters throughout the US are facing rent increases that threaten their home lives. Similar legislation to Good Cause Evictions is being pushed across the country.

To help, Housing Justice For All suggests speaking to your neighbors or getting involved with your local tenant unions, and "join[ing] them in the nationwide movement to make housing a human right."

Cover photo: Collage: Screenshot/ Twitter/Housing Justice for All, Rennete, & DorcaNYC

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