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Organizers will hold a town hall to build a ‘citywide tenant union’ Saturday

Local renters and their advocates are pushing for solidarity

All Souls Unitarian Church (1500 Harvard Street NW)
Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA-3.0

Groups that do renter advocacy including the Latino Economic Development Center and the D.C. chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America have scheduled a town hall Saturday to work toward establishing a “citywide tenant union.” The town hall will take place at All Souls Unitarian Church—at 1500 Harvard Street NW—in Columbia Heights, from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.

“All DC tenants are invited to join us to learn how to organize their neighbors, advocate for pro-tenant policies, and fight back against slumlords’ abuse and neglect,” the organizers say on a Facebook page for the event. “Leaders from tenant associations from Congress Heights to Cathedral Heights will gather at All Souls Church in Columbia Heights to celebrate our victories in the past year, discuss our vision for the city, form neighborhood-based chapters, an[d] elect leaders for a new organization.” Over 100 people have indicated they will attend.

While an official citywide tenant union does not yet exist in D.C., there are numerous tenant associations based at multifamily buildings. The D.C government also has a tenant advocate office that helps tenants navigate issues like rent control, housing conditions, and the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act, a 1980 District law that permits tenants to acquire their homes.

The town hall comes as housing prices remain high and development continues apace in D.C. Recent studies show that the city has seen some of the most intense gentrification in the U.S., and that many low-income households in the District struggle to obtain family-sized housing.