Emerging Renters Movement in Detroit

September 17, 2021

Detroit People’s Platform Renters’ Rights & Housing Justice Workshops are grounded in the framework of organizing for justice and people power in order to improve our collective wellbeing.  For example, the Renters’ Rights Workshop is facilitated by a community leader who is also a renter. The material shared in the workshop includes a historical understanding of the housing crisis in Detroit, tools for organizing and understanding the collective power of renters and mapping a plan for change.

Past organizing successes for renters in Detroit include winning longer lease terms to stop displacement of families in a local housing complex turned market rate; working with national allies to win congressional support for extended eviction moratorium; and renters drafting revisions to expand housing affordability in the revised Detroit City Charter.

The portrayal of housing security for Black Detroiters is inaccurate with ever increasing rents and utility cost. We face an even harder task of locating quality housing for families. We know that the root cause for the growing housing crisis in Detroit is at the systemic level. Housing has become a feeding ground for real estate speculators.

Q: If foreclosures and evictions are the fault of an individual homeowner or renter, why do we see the devastation all across the Detroit and other urban areas where significant numbers of working and low-income individuals and families live?

Mass displacement is intentional and driven by public policies.

Housing shortages, as a result of foreclosures and evictions, increasingly are being accompanied by climate events like flooding, excessive heat, and power outages. Promoting homes that are safe and healthy enough for our families to live in must be a priority as well.

The Housing Justice Team organizes around justice centered and sustainable solutions that protect those most vulnerable to housing insecurity and displacement in majority Black Detroit. Centering race, advocating for increased funding for public polices like the Housing Trust Fund, and revising housing policies that expand renter and low income home owner protections are the focus of our renters movement organizing.  We have found that most people agree that everyone deserves to live in a safe, accessible, and affordable home.


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