The majority of renters in Philadelphia are experiencing a housing crisis, with three main components: an eviction crisis, a health crisis, and an affordability crisis. Every year, 1 in 14 renters experience an eviction filing—not including the illegal evictions that take place off the books. Many renters live in unsafe housing, which drives stark negative health and education outcomes. Almost half of Philadelphia renters pay more than 30% of their income in rent, and nearly a third pay more than 50% of their income.
According to research from Azavea, 1 in 4 rental properties in Philadelphia are now owned by a corporate entity like an LLC, further constraining tenants’ ability to hold their landlords accountable to their responsibility to provide safe housing. Indeed, their research found that corporate owners are disproportionately responsible for housing quality violations.
To respond to this crisis and build tenant power in Philadelphia, the Law Center is developing an organizational model to support renters in collectively asserting and expanding their rights.
Renters United / Inquilinxs en la Lucha Philadelphia (RUP) is a new organization launched in 2019 by the Law Center to organize and educate renters to fight for their rights to quality housing in the streets, in the courts, and in City Hall. It is a citywide organization comprised of organized renters who share a building, a landlord, or a neighborhood. RUP helps tenants organize to build the collective power needed to solve their particular housing concerns. using a variety of tactics–including direct action, and when it strengthens the organizing work, litigation.
RUP staff, a tenant organizer and a community lawyer, support tenants to build their capacity to identify collective housing quality problems, develop effective strategies to solve them, and protect tenants against possible retaliation from their landlords.
- We envision a City where the idea that housing is a human right is common sense;
- Where renters have access to healthy, affordable, and stable housing;
- Where neighborhoods birth unity and unleash human potential; and
- Where Philadelphians continuously organize through self-governance to defend this vision