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Housing Advocacy Groups Form A City-Wide Tenant’s Union

Sarah Schneider
90.5 WESA
Ronnel Guy, center, reads a list of demands that housing justice organizers delivered to Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto.

Several Pittsburgh-based organizations committed to housing equity launched a city-wide tenants' union Thursday.

The group wants the city to devote resources to developing and preserving homes that families can afford, and to put a moratorium on affordable housing demolition. Asimilar efforttwo years ago stalled out. 

The volunteer-led group said it would be a resource for tenants as affordability continues to decrease.

Jala Rucker with the Northside Coalition for Fair Housing said she wants current renters to know their rights and have a place to go if they have issues with landlords.

“We want tenants to be able to form their community, build a council and be able to advocate for themselves,” she said.

Credit Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA
90.5 WESA
Monica Johnson, left, and Adriane Crummel, right, hold a sign during a press event announcing the Pittsburgh Regional Tenant's Union. The two tenants say they believe a tenant's union would help people understand their rights.

The groups have been organizing for nearly eight months. It got off the ground in time to hold a Housing Summit Saturdayto address, “the forces contributing to the rising costs of housing and the diminishing abilities of workers to afford stable and quality housing.”

The Pittsburgh Regional Tenants Union is supported by the Landless People’s Alliance, the Hill District Consensus Group, the North Side Coalition for Fair Housing, the Urbankind Institute, and the Penn Plaza Support and Action Coalition among others.

Organizers who spoke Thursday at the City-County Building noted that more families are moving to the suburbs as affordable units dwindle in the city. Speakers said the city has to commit to more subsidized housing.

Ronnell Guy with the Landless People’s Alliance said she was ashamed that so many people of color have to leave the city when they can’t afford to live in their gentrifying neighborhoods.

“We should have leaders that provide support for all of us, not just the ones that can afford to pay, but the ones that shine the shoes and the ones that work in Rite Aid and the ones that clean your clothes and the ones that change your sheets in the hospital. We need housing for everybody,” she said.