Statewide tenants union launches in North Carolina

Press release from NC Tenants Union:

Tenants from across the state come together to form the North Carolina Tenants Union, a statewide tenants union fighting for housing as a human right.

Over 1.4 million households, a third of all North Carolinians, rent their homes. One in four tenants are spending over half of their income in rent. Poor tenants and tenants of color are more likely to experience severe cost burden with 75% of extremely low income tenants, 38% of Black tenants, and 32% of Latinx tenants paying half their income in rent. In 2022, 149,000 eviction cases were filed. These statistics are the result of a housing system that has relentlessly prioritized landlords’ profits and protected private assets rather than ensuring everyone has shelter.

We believe all North Carolinians have a right to safe, accessible and affordable housing and that tenants, not landlords, should have agency over their living situations. We know that the people closest to the problems are closest to the solutions, and so, we are building a statewide tenants union, led by tenants and for tenants, that not only meets immediate needs for critical repairs, better living conditions and affordable rents, but also works towards creating the housing justice we deserve.

Tenants across the state have already been fighting for more from each other, our landlords, and our representatives. In Winston-Salem, public housing tenants prevented the sale of their building and are now in talks with the housing authority about repairs. In Raleigh, tenants stopped a nearly 65% rent increase to keep their homes affordable. In New Bern, tenants won massive overdue repairs, finally securing working refrigerators and cleaning up the mold in their subsidized housing. And tenants from across the state stopped a bill that would further erode tenants’ nearly nonexistent rights. A statewide tenants’ union connects seniors in public housing in New Bern to young professionals with corporate landlords in Charlotte to recognize their shared self-interests, learn from one another, and fight for better living conditions together.

“We organize because our freedom depends on it,” one public housing tenant from Winston-Salem, Ms. Edith Chisholm says. “You have a right to organize, and no one can take that away from you,” she says. Another tenant involved in the efforts of forming NCTU in New Bern, Ms. Dinah Foskey, says that she believes that “the statewide tenant union will empower people to not be afraid to speak up about unfair living conditions, and demand the wrongs be made right.” Her call to action is “united we stand, and together we can overcome.”

“Action NC is excited to join with tenant organizers across the state to continue and expand our work organizing for tenant power and to expand tenants rights. We are stronger with a statewide tenant union..” Jessica Moreno

The North Carolina Tenants Union (NCTU) is a union of six local tenant unions and networks in Asheville, Charlotte, New Bern, New Hanover, Raleigh-Durham, and Winston-Salem, united in our fight for housing as a human right. Working-class tenants best understand their needs and how to build a housing system that prioritizes people over profit. NCTU works with tenants to build durable, democratic tenant unions.  NCTU’s member-unions organize grassroots campaigns led by directly-affected tenants to stop displacement, win critical repairs, stop rapid rent increases, democratically control their housing and strengthen tenants’ rights.

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