Organize, Organize, Organize! Why and How
City Life supports and encourages the formation of “tenant unions” and“resident associations” wherever possible! Simply put, when ordinary people, like ourselves, face the power of real estate money, we need to be organized. Our cooperation and solidarity, our willingness to work together toward common goals – in other words, our organizing – is the only thing that gives us power.
There are many kinds of tenant organizations. Some are made up of tenants who all live in one building or complex owned by the same landlord. Others are made up of tenants from many different buildings (with different landlords) who come together to support each other in fighting eviction or rent increase. Some tenant groups are more formal, with by-laws and elected leadership. Others are informal, operating by consensus with volunteer leadership.
In Jamaica Plain and Egleston Sq., the Campaign of Conscience for an Affordable and Diverse Community, supported by City Life and the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation, has promoted all of these forms of organizing. Some buildings have their own tenant associations. In other buildings, only individuals are active. These individuals as well as some of the tenant associations come together every 3-4 weeks in neighborhood meetings. In these meetings, we talk about legal rights and we plan actions about how, together, we can protect all of our homes.
You don’t have to have any legal documentation (of residency or anything else) to form a tenant organization. You just start acting like one. The important thing is that residents support each other.
Your right to organize is protected under the law! It is illegal for your landlord or anyone else to act in retaliation (by threatening you, trying to evict you or anything else) for joining a tenant association.
What are the benefits of Tenant Associations?
City Life and other grassroots organizations have seen, over and over again, how tenant organizing can produce victories that many people thought were impossible. And in every case, organizing produces results that are always better than going-it-alone!