Join Sacramento Tenants Union

Where We Came From

It was 2017 –and California’s capitol was experiencing the largest year-over-year rent increases in the nation. On May 6, 2017, a group of Sacramento renters and anti-capitalist community organizers met at Broadway Coffee to discuss what renters in the city could do to address the local gentrification, displacement, homelessness, land speculation and resegregation. They settled upon a solution: start a tenants union for tenants to organize themselves and fight back!

By no means was this group the first to think of starting a local tenants union; they just committed to sticking it out and making it a reality. Since then, our organization has been meeting regularly to get operational and tackle the housing crisis in our city and region.

Guiding Principles

Vision

We are a union of tenants, dedicated to winning safe, healthy, stable, and fair housing for all. A tenant is anyone who does not own or control their own housing –whether a renter, an unhoused person, or a prisoner. We are united in our rejection of exploitation by the capitalist class, who force us to pay tribute (aka rent) simply to exist. Housing is a Human Right — but this does not mean we can sit and wait for this right to be granted to us. We must take it, through collective power, and re-appropriate our control over our own housing and our very existence.

Mission

To build tenant power through the organization and participation of all tenants. To fight back against landlords & capitalists who take advantage of renters, to safeguard and expand upon tenants’ rights, and to empower tenants to create the communities we want to live in. Ultimately, to end the oppressive rental system altogether. How we accomplish this:

  1. Organize tenants at the building, neighborhood, and landlord levels, throughout the Sacramento region.
  2. Use our collective power to reject anti-tenant policies and practices including evictions, rent increases, unlivable conditions, and harassment by landlords and property managers.
  3. Defend our right as tenants to organize and negotiate collectively with landlords.
  4. Use peer counseling, tenants’ rights education, and a rapid response network to fight back against landlords who violate the law.
  5. Advocate for universal access to safe, stable housing.
  6. Develop and educate our members to better understand the nature of tenant oppression.
  7. Work closely with our unhoused neighbors, who are most impacted by oppressive rental conditions to the point of losing housing.
  8. Organize in ways that acknowledge the white supremacist, settler-colonial context of housing in the US and center, empower, and support BIPOC tenants in undoing racist housing practices, including police harassment.
  9. Organize in ways that acknowledge the negative effects of ableism, sexism, transphobia and homophobia, and how these may be expressed through the housing system.

Values

  1. Mass Organization – We are committed to building tenant power through mass tenant organization and participation. We must be accessible to anyone who needs us.
  2. Anti-Capitalism – We are not of any one political tendency, but we are united in our rejection of capitalism and our recognition that capitalism is the cause of our exploitation. Our exploitation is not chaotic, but calculated to serve a definite purpose — the enrichment of a small class of people.
  3. Self-Sufficiency — We are committed to full self-sufficiency, providing mutual aid to one another as a union, without reliance upon indifferent politicians.
  4. Safe Space – We are committed to providing a safe organizing space for all people. Racism, sexism, ableism, classism, homophobia, transphobia of any kind will not be tolerated. These are the tools of the enemy, used to turn the people against one another. Ridding our organizing spaces of these biases will require active and conscious effort. Our internal structures must function to root out these problems before they can spread.
  5. Tenant Power – Landlords need our rent money to function. This is the basis of tenant power — they need us more than we need them. We operate from this principle.
  6. Centering the most oppressed – Under the settler-colonial capitalist order, housing injustice disproportionately affects Black, Indigenous and other non-white tenants. We pledge to center the most oppressed tenants, including the unhoused and the imprisoned. We recognize the impacts of gender, class, race, and disability upon housing injustice.
  7. Housing Justice — Our goal is to provide safe and secure housing for all tenants, especially those facing racial or gendered housing injustice. This means working to undo centuries of housing discrimination, from Indigenous displacement to racial segregation to redlining.
  8. Indigenous Sovereignty — We respect Indigenous sovereignty and acknowledge that land ownership in the U.S. originates from genocide and dispossession of Indigenous land. Through violence, early settlers acquired control of land and resources. Today, wealthy capitalists still control this land and charge us rent to exist upon it. We are united with Indigenous nations seeking “Land Back.” Our struggles, and our liberation, are the same.
  9. Abolition – We see police for what they are — tools of the exploiting classes, used to protect private property and maintain white supremacy through racial violence. We are united with the abolition movement in their demand for the elimination of the police and the prison-industrial-complex, both of which threaten housing security just as much as any landlord.
  10. Accountability – We pledge to remain accountable to one another, and to all tenants with whom we struggle. We will hold fast to the principles of collective accountability, democratic governance, and growth through self-criticism.
  11. Security – We recognize the danger that any form of organizing poses under the current fascist order. We pledge to operate with care and security, without drawing undue or unnecessary attention to individual organizers.
  12. Principled Flexibility — We recognize that many tenants with whom we organize may not agree with all of these values. We will always listen to and learn from those with whom we organize, while remaining true to the principles that will serve as the most effective roadmap.

Becoming a member

Who can become a member?

All tenants are welcome to become STU members. We define “tenant” as anyone who does not own their home and does not have power over any other person’s housing situation. We see no distinction between the housed and the unhoused. Homeowners and land trust members can be non-voting members. Landlords and their agents are not eligible to become STU members.

Before signing up, please read STU’s mission and values above. All members should find general agreement with it.

Why do we collect dues?

As a tenant-driven movement, STU relies on its own members to fund ongoing expenses. These include meeting supplies, educational materials, funds for community events, direct actions, supporting rent strikes, and mobilizations. We regularly spend money on banner-making supplies, meeting space rentals, and printing costs, etc.

STU Dues Structure

1. Unhoused/formerly incarcerated – $0/mo.

2. Unemployed or employed but in debt: $0-5/month

3. Employed: $5-20/month

4. Maximum one-time donation $50

Members are assumed to have acted in good faith when choosing an appropriate dues commitment.  No member will ever be expected to provide proof of income,  unemployment, debt, etc.

How To Pay Dues

We presently have a couple ways for you to pay dues. First, is by paying through PayPal. Another way to pay dues is by paying in cash during general meetings or mail a check to us at Sacramento Tenants Union, PO Box 188234, Sacramento, CA 95818.