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Overview
  • Overview
  • Increasing Housing Supply
  • Dedicated Funding Sources
  • Land Use Regulation and Approval Reforms
  • Inclusionary Zoning
  • Regional Housing Target Enforcement
  • Ending and Preventing Homelessness
  • Systems-Level Racial Equity Analysis
  • Emergency Response Resources
  • Housing First
  • Master Leasing
  • Household and Community Protections
  • “Just Cause” Eviction Laws
  • Anti-Gouging Rent Regulations
  • Strategic Code Enforcement
  • Community Benefit Agreements
  • Community Power-Building
  • Community Ownership
  • Alliance and Coalition Building
  • Community Organizing
  • Tenant Organizing
  • Opportunity and Wealth
  • Mobility Assistance Programs
  • Rent Reporting
  • Reparations
  • Fair and Equitable Appraisals
  • Acknowledgments
  • Tenant Organizing

    Overview

    Renters make up a third of US households but hold much less power than homeowners, both financially and politically. The number of tenants who organize to advocate for increased protections and better living conditions has increased in recent years in the face of uneven recovery from the foreclosure crisis in 2008, rising rents, and the threats to housing security due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tenant organizing has the potential to disrupt the status quo by tackling the historical power imbalance between landlords and tenants. Tenant organizing can take place at the local level, through grassroots efforts and tenants unions, as well as through national efforts such as Homes Guarantee.  

    Tenant organizing begins with building connections between tenants to address an immediate need, like building maintenance, unfair evictions, or rent increases. It can evolve into a longer-term movement that pushes for policy changes to promote housing justice. Tenant organizing tackles systemic issues to enact structural change to improve housing affordability and quality of life and to redistribute power to people typically not at the table for decisionmaking, such as Black, Indigenous, and Latinx people and residents with low incomes. Tenant organizing can help people advocate for better living conditions in their homes and increase support for legislation that enhances protections for renters and organizers.

    Tenant organizing can take root at the local, state, and national levels. While groups in coastal cities and states are modeling tenant organizing, efforts in communities across the country are gaining momentum. Most recently, tenant organizers in states such as California were integral in keeping renters stably housed in the face of a looming eviction crisis and advocating for an equitable recovery from the hardships inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Tenant unions pushed Congress and the White House to distribute emergency rental assistance more quickly and equitably through the “Cancel the Rents” movement.  

    Examples of This Strategy in Action

    • In New York, Housing Justice for All is a statewide movement of tenants and people experiencing homelessness aimed at positioning housing as a human right. Since its start as a grassroots community movement in 2017, the organization has pushed for stronger tenant protections to ensure housing stability. In 2019, New York passed sweeping renter protection laws that shifted power to tenants by closing loopholes that landlords had used to deregulate housing by raising rents. The impact of the legislation extended protections to 2.4 million renters in the state.
    • In California, Housing Now CA is a power-building coalition with over 150 organizations and 1,000 grassroots leaders in its network. The group aims to make housing more affordable for working class communities of color and to combat displacement caused by large corporations and landlords. Housing Now CA works with a range of tenants, workers, and businesses to push for the passage of the California Tenant Protection Act, which prevents rent gouging and unfair evictions.  

     


     

    Final policy domain: Opportunity and Wealth