The Academy of East Palo Alto was the venue for more than 70 people from various organizations defending the rights of Tenants in the Bay Area to hold their 2023 Annual Assembly, with the aim of exchanging experiences, learning about strategies and perspectives, in addition to empowering attendees with information key information on the rights of landlords against evictions, poor service and high housing costs provided by tenants in the region.
"This event is to create a communal power to represent the tenant in the economy of this region and throughout the United States, particularly in the Bay area, where the cost of housing is extremely high," commented Carlos Romero, resident of East Palo Alto and member of the council board.
Romero states that multifamily housing in East Palo Alto is controlled by a local ordinance, however, there are evictions and other problems.
?Having a tenant union is good for housing improvements or representing tenant issues. The purpose of these regional boards is to gather more strength in the tenants' rights movements,” Romero told Peninsula 360 Press.
The event featured panelists who recounted their experiences about the problems they have faced organizing their communities, as well as the lessons they have learned. Other panelists participated: Nicole Arrington, (Pittsburgh); Laura Vásquez, from the Tenants Association (KDF); and Devin Williams, of ACCE-ANTIOQUIA-PITTSBURGH.
In relation to the problems presented by the panelists, attendees were presented with the preparation of content for a strategic communication campaign in order to help tenant associations, taking as an example the campaign of the Veritas Tenants Association (VTA) which brings together the union of tenants living in Veritas-GreenTree buildings.
Veritas Investments, is the largest property management company in San Francisco and one of the largest multifamily operators in California.
"I have gained more control over my situation, it makes me feel more humble to be here with you," said Nicol Arrington during his speech. "We tenants have the power in elections, not only to elect but also to remove in good faith officers who do not collaborate with our work."
For her part, Grecia Sánchez, organizer of the San Francisco Housing Rights Committee, commented that issues of great importance are discussed to know how to maintain the fight and keep her community united. "We are dedicated to strengthening tenants by providing them with information about their rights and helping them with the problems they face, applying the right to organize."
?Continue fighting. We see that the organization is difficult, sometimes we get discouraged and feel weakened, but we have to continue, many times the members themselves inspire us to move forward?, he added.
In this regard, Laura Vásquez, from the Regional Network of Organizing Tenants (RTO), organizer of this event, told Peninsula 360 Press that the idea is to strengthen tenants who want to have tools to organize more people in their apartments.
?If you can organize tenants, it is difficult, but it can be done. Leaders must be found since this movement can be achieved to help tenants in their economy, he stressed.
On the occasion, Nancy Benítez, from the KDF tenant organization, said she felt motivated by the support of each other so that all this becomes a reality, because the stronger the union, the better for everyone.
?Yes, we can do many things, such as lowering the high costs of housing and fixing the problems that exist in the apartments. “This event helps us inform ourselves about our rights and laws that we didn't know about,” he explained.
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