by Contributor on Thursday January 19 2023
Renters in the West Kootenays are gathering at the Nelson United Church on Saturday January 28th from 1-3 p.m.
The event is a Know your Rights workshop put together by a group of local renters who have been organizing for roughly a year.
Participants will learn how to coordinate with their neighbours to advocate for their own housing needs.
“Landlords have a very strong sense of class solidarity, they have Landlord groups and associations that are very effective at advocating for their interests," said an organizer for the Nelson Tenants Union said in an emailed statement.
"They also benefit from Canada’s systemic bias towards the commodification of land that was misappropriated from indigenous Nations and people.”
The Nelson Tenants Union said organizer said it is only reasonable that tenants, despite their capacity drains, get together to advocate for themselves and their communities.
"We need to make sure that decision makers understand our needs, and since we don’t have the money to lobby the provincial government, we have to build grass-roots power,” the organizer said.
James believes that “Renters in Nelson are ready to band together.”
When he helped organize the last workshop the group was just finding its bearings, now, he says “we’ve got a whole year of organizing under our belts. And a lot more community. We are well versed and ready to build up Tenant power.”
Tenants have gotten little to no respite from the housing crisis as James points out.
“Things were bad last year and they've only gotten worse, It’s time Tenants got together to talk about solutions that actually help them”.
The housing crisis has only worsened, Tenants in particular feel desperate to find anything that can be a roof over their heads, even succumbing to shady housing practices that some landlords use. There’s clearly a large number of people who feel isolated and are afraid of losing their housing.
The Know your Rights Event will help local renters continue the process of growing the Nelson Tenants Union and creating building and/or neighbourhood associations.
Rent Strike Bargain supports renters across territories known as British Columbia to start groups like tenants unions, building associations, and manufactured home park Committees. Tenants can negotiate as groups with the same landlord on issues like rent increases, repairs, or even demo-viction.
Members also help each other deal with individual situations like evictions, or abuse from angry landlords. Rent Strike Bargain is also working to assert collective bargaining rights for tenants.
Any renter can start or join a local group of the Rent Strike Bargain organization to be part of the movement for housing justice on territories across BC.