Report Back: Housing Branch & Lexington Tenants Union

Report Back: Housing Branch & Lexington Tenants Union

The Housing Branch’s goal is to build up the Lexington Tenants Union (“LTU” for short), an organ of power for tenants and others who do not control their housing in Lexington. This is an organization for renters that is separate from the DSA but that our members are working to grow. We want to grow a citywide union to help neighbors connect, understand their rights, and collectively bargain for better renting conditions. The ultimate goal (very long term) is to set up housing cooperatives throughout Lexington so that people aren’t subjugated to the tenant landlord relationship and can control their own housing.

Recent activity

So far we have been setting up bylaws and gathering resources. We recently announced who we are and our intentions to organize at a rally. We are getting ready to canvass and do groundwork for base building. We have decided that Monday, Sept. 7, 2020 (Labor Day) is our Tenants Union Outreach Day and we’ll be making efforts leading up to that day to encourage LTU members to talk to their neighbors and begin the work of growing the union.

Housing Branch

Recent highlights

Through the course of our organizing, we have met a couple tenants who want to start organizing with their neighbors.

Lessons

We need to know more about the Uniform Residential Landlord Tenant Act (or “URLTA”) law that governs landlord-tenant relations in Lexington. We need to compile a network of services (plumbing, HVAC, electricians) so tenants can have things fixed and deducted from their rent pursuant to URLTA, to develop a network of lawyers who can help us use the laws to our advantage, and we need to strategize clear and big ground game and social media campaigns.

Plans to apply lessons & address challenges

We found a great resource for URLTA, but we need to see which of the few lawyers we know are willing to help. We also need to recruit DSA members and others for flyering and canvassing and get our comrades to talk to their neighbors and like and share our social media posts.

Requests for support or collaboration

We would like all of Lexington DSA to join the LTU, even if they’re not in the Housing Branch, because our strength will only come from numbers.

Photo: Megan Gulla
Illustration: Stephan Crown-Weber