NLIHC presented its annual Organizing Awards on March 20 at its 2018 Housing Policy Forum: Building the Movement. This year’s awardees were the Right to Counsel NYC Coalition (RTC NYC) for its organizing to achieve the right to counsel for low income residents facing eviction and the Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing and Opportunity Council (EHOC) and Empower Missouri for their mobilization to protect tenants against forced evictions.
RTC NYC received the 2018 Trailblazer Award for its groundbreaking work in building tenant power and advocacy to win the civil right to an attorney for low income renters facing eviction in New York City. This accomplishment marked the culmination of a 3-year campaign to pass what is known locally as Intro 214-B. The law represents the first such tenant protection in any jurisdiction in the nation. When fully implemented, the law is anticipated to benefit an estimated 400,000 tenants, prevent 5,000 families per year from experiencing homelessness, and save New York City $300 million annually.
“This is a huge victory for fundamental human and civil rights at a time when those rights are under attack,” said Randy Dillard, a tenant leader at Community Action for Safe Apartments (CASA) and steering committee member of RTC NYC. “For low income families, keeping their home is as consequential as it gets. For the first time, New York City's low-income tenants facing eviction will be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve and will have a fighting chance to stay in their homes and communities. We are honored to receive the Trailblazer Award from NLIHC in recognition of our hard work and persistence.”
The Metropolitan St. Louis EHOC and Empower Missouri received the Renter Advocacy Award for their work in protecting tenants against “self-help” or “lock-out” eviction tactics. EHOC and Empower Missouri successfully advocated for the passage of a citywide ordinance—Board Bill 87—criminalizing lock-out evictions in the City of St. Louis, which had already been illegal under Missouri state civil code. The ordinance defines conditions that qualify as an illegal eviction tactic, institutes penalties for landlords who illegally evict a tenant, and updates law enforcement procedures accordingly.
“EHOC and Empower Missouri are honored to receive the Renter Advocacy Award from NLIHC in recognition of our work on Board Bill 87,” said Jeanette Mott Oxford, executive director of Empower Missouri. “To be acknowledged is not a victory for us alone but it is also a victory for all of the tenants who didn’t feel like they had a voice against intimidating landlords, especially low-income renters often living in sub-standard housing due to affordable housing shortages in St. Louis City. Renters in St. Louis City may now feel empowered to rise together to influence change and fight back against owner-landlords seeking to take advantage of their vulnerabilities. Board Bill 87 is just the beginning of tenant rights advocacy in the state of Missouri.”
Presented each year at NLIHC’s annual Policy Forum, the Organizing Awards recognize outstanding achievement in statewide, local, and resident/tenant organizing that furthers NLIHC’s mission of achieving socially just public policy that ensures people with the lowest incomes in the U.S. have affordable and decent homes.
Read NLIHC’s press release on the 2018 Organizing Awards at: https://bit.ly/2HX9Ygb