A new report, Defending our Homes: Bay Area Tenant Groups Respond to the Social Crisis of COVID-19, released by the Regional Tenant Organizing network (RTO) details how a constellation of grassroots tenant organizers across the Bay Area are adapting to meet the growing needs of the most vulnerable renters, including stepping in to provide crisis management. It highlights the essential role grassroots organizers play in helping tenants through the COVID-19 pandemic and provides recommendations to philanthropy on how they can boost local efforts to weather the current crisis and lay the groundwork for a just recovery.
The report came out of a month-long collaboration between RTO members, Urban Habitat, and undergraduates from Stanford University in July 2020. Together, we interviewed 30 tenant organizations from across the Bay Area to understand the challenges they’re facing, the resources they need, and the opportunities that are arising.
The groups interviewed laid out a clear set of requests. They need more resources, including:
- Basic tools and technology to reach renters who are in need of help
- Stipends and gift vouchers to remunerate their dedicated volunteer workforce
- Funds for translation and interpretation services to ensure language access
- Funds to provide comprehensive legal services in multiple languages
- Mental health support for organizers who are providing crisis management