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RTCNYC and TakeRoot Justice conducted a participatory action research project to investigate the impact of Right to Counsel on tenant organizing among low-income tenants. We conducted focus groups with tenants and with housing organizers. Utilizing a participatory action research model, tenants and organizers participated in the development of research instruments, were trained to administer the research, facilitated focus groups, and engaged in opportunities for skill-building and leadership development.Our research shows:* Right to Counsel strengthens organizing in a variety of ways. It serves as a know-your-rights tool, helps build a base of involved tenants, and opens the door to new organizing tactics and strategies.* Tenants feel less stress and fear knowing they have the right to legal representation in court, which helps them navigate housing court with confidence and success and prompts them to take action against their landlords.* Right to Counsel creates opportunities for tenants, organizers, and attorneys to navigate relationships, share knowledge and history and provide trainings, all in the service of building the tenants' rights movement.* The Right to Counsel NYC Coalition is deliberate and successful in creating and sustaining a tenant-led infrastructure and movement-building spaces.These findings demonstrate the various ways in which the Right to Counsel meaningfully contributes to New York City's robust tenant movement. These findings also offer insight and inspiration for tenants and organizers fighting for the Right to Counsel in their cities.
CASA is proud to present our new white paper, Resisting Displacement: Lessons from CASA's Tenant Organizing in the Southwest Bronx!In the last year, CASA has organized or provided technical assistance to over 90 buildings, which are home to more than 7,000 families. In the last year alone, over 4,000 tenants have actively engaged in CASA's work. Our new white paper shares lessons in tenant organizing, explores the forces of displacement that we are up against, and solutions for fighting displacement in the context of an impending rezoning.This is a critical moment for the Southwest Bronx. A potential rezoning is imminent, and could have devastating impacts on low-income tenants of color, their communities, and the state of affordable housing. CASA has drawn on our organizing experience, coalition work, previous research and the experiences of the tenants we work with to draft this white paper.In the report we:Present a clear and accurate definition of displacement and counter the false assertion that most tenants leave neighborhoods by choice;Explain the tactics that landlords already use to exert displacement pressures on low-income tenants of color;Emphasize the risk of increased displacement posed by rezoning, and in particular the Jerome Avenue rezoning, when new housing is not genuinely affordable and there are insufficient protections against displacement;Offer solutions that would protect tenants from displacement, allow them to remain in their homes, and preserve their communities.
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