At WSCO, We believe that everyone deserves to live in safe, dignified, and affordable homes without fear of displacement. We envision and work towards a West Side where everyone lives in dignity and security. We organize with our neighbors to build power and create systemic change in our community.
We are grounded in the histories of displacement that have affected the West Side, from the forced removal of the Dakota people in 1851, to the destruction of the immigrant community on the West Side Flats in the early 1960’s, to today’s displacement of low-income people of color due to gentrification.
We organize with renters on the West Side of Saint Paul to address repair issues, exploitation, evictions, and rent hikes, because housing is a right, not a commodity.
Get involved: Want to organize your building, or tenants with the same landlord as you? Do you want to host a Know-Your-Rights training for your community? Maybe you’re not a renter but committed to working in solidarity for an affordable and dignified West Side? You're in the right place: join our Housing Justice Action Circle! Email Katrina Mendoza at [email protected], and join our Facebook group West Side Housing Justice.
Share your experience: take a 30-second survey for West Side renters
The West Side Tenant Union
Are you a West Side renter? Join the West Side Tenant Union! We're a group of renters who are organized to defend our rights and take action for housing justice together with our neighbors.
“I’m speaking from my heart. We’re here to inform all the renters who are being put out of their apartments… we’re all going to come together to try to change that,” said Marcus Troy, West Side renter, WSCO board member, and founding member of the West Side Tenant Union. “We will try to unionize as many people as we can, to change the current status quo. We don’t have to put our heads down in shame, we don’t have to tell each other ‘we got put out.’ We’re not going anywhere!”
We are a member of the Homes Guarantee campaign, a nationwide effort to pass federal tenant protections. WSCO's West Side Tenant Union has doorknocked, collected public comments, and traveled to D.C. to meet with Federal Housing Authority officials, take direct action, and organize with hundreds of other renters around the country. Learn more about our work with the Homes Guarantee campaign here!
Pictured Above: Tenant leaders hold press conference with Rep. Jayapal in Washington, D.C. to demand protections. Photo credit: Shedrick Pelt
In just three years, West Siders have played a crucial role in major housing justice policy wins in Minnesota. We passed the strongest rent stabilization policy in the nation, defended the right to organize renters, and developed S.A.F.E. tenant protections. Read on to learn more, and join us to continue to organize for housing justice!
In November of 2021, Saint Paul voted YES for rent stabilization! Every single precinct of the West Side voted yes too. That's the power of the people! Led by the Housing Equity Now! St. Paul (HENS) Coalition, community organizations across the city succeeded passing a policy that will keep tenants, especially low-wealth and BIPOC households, from getting priced out of their homes.
Click here to learn more about Saint Paul's rent stabilization policy, changes made by City Council, and what you can do as a renter to make sure your rights are respected!
S.A.F.E. Tenant Protections
We are proud to have been a part of the 2020 campaign led by the Housing Equity Now! St. Paul (HENS) Coalition to win S.A.F.E. Tenant Protections!
"Built on years of advocacy and groundwork by tenants and housing advocates, we organized community members across the city in a grassroots campaign to elevate the need for tenant protections as a racial equity strategy, centered BIPOC and renter voices in policy-making decisions. Together, we made sure our St. Paul City Councilmembers passed the strongest tenant protections ordinance in the state, becoming the first city in Minnesota to include just cause protections."– Housing Equity Now! St. Paul
Unfortunately, before these protections had a chance to go into effect March 1, 2021, the ordinance was stalled by a landlord lobby lawsuit against the city. We urged the City Council not to repeal this crucial ordinance, but our West Side representative, Councilmember Noecker, cast a decisive vote to repeal the ordinance that our neighbors fought so hard to win.
Click here to learn more about S.A.F.E. Tenant Protections.
The right to organize
In 2021, WSCO won a lawsuit affirming the right to organize renters in the state of Minnesota.
The Twin Cities is in the midst of a serious affordable housing crisis, and more than ever residents affected by rising rents and substandard living conditions need to come together to advocate for substantive change. If you feel fed up and ready to take action, you have the right to organize your building and neighbors to demand better living conditions.
Together we are powerful! Join us!
Click here to visit our Resources page, which includes housing resources like how to know your rights, organize a tenant's union, access housing services and legal services, and resources for landlords.