The Regional Tenant Organizing Network (RTO) was started in 2015 to advance tenant protections and resist growing regional resegregation in the Bay Area. It currently comprises 31 organizations across the Bay Area, and a majority of RTO members are directly engaged in grassroots community organizing. The RTO Network builds the capacity of grassroots organizers and advocates by providing ongoing training, building power through convenings such as the regional renter power assemblies, and operating a small grants and mentorship program.
RTO is a highly effective platform for strengthening local campaigns through coordination across jurisdictions, building power at the regional scale, and long-term advocacy at the statewide level. In November 2016, RTO member organizations in five cities successfully placed rent control and just cause eviction protections on the ballot. Despite outsized spending by the real estate industry, two measures passed in Richmond and Mountain View. After the victory in Mountain View, the RTO supported local organizers to defend the new law against persistent attacks by landlords and the real estate industry.
In February 2021, the RTO released a report, Defending Our Homes: Bay Area Tenant Groups Respond to the Social Crisis of COVID-19, which 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. The report 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.
Urban Habitat convenes the RTO. The leadership committee members include Alameda Renters Coalition, Causa Justa :: Just Cause, Faith in Action Bay Area, Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco, and Tenants Together. Stay in touch with the RTO by joining our email list here.
In the News:
Protesters close down Santa Clara County courthouse for hours in protest over evictions
SF Chronicle, January 27, 2021
Protesters Block San Jose Courthouse in Demand for Stronger State Eviction Protections
KQED, January 27, 2021
Tenants mount courthouse protest to end evictions in Santa Clara County
San Jose Spotlight, January 27, 2021