Above: West Side neighbors, WSCO staff, and more Housing Equity Now! St. Paul coalition leaders and members celebrate after a successful campaign to get rent stabilization on the ballot
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 Riverside 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.
Above: West Side neighbors preparing to canvass with petitions to Keep St. Paul Home
Keep St. Paul Home: Renters Belong in Our Neighborhoods is a campaign focused on preventing displacement by stabilizing rents. Led by the Housing Equity Now! St. Paul (HENS) Coalition, community organizations across the city succeeded in collecting thousands of signatures in support of a ballot measure that will keep tenants, especially low-wealth and BIPOC households, from getting priced out of their homes.
We need your help to mobilize our communities to vote! Get involved in this important effort here.
Learn more about rent stabilization here.
Read WSCO's blog post about the campaign launch!
S.A.F.E. Tenant Protections
We are proud to have been a part of the campaign led by the Housing Equity Now! St. Paul (HENS) Coalition to win S.A.F.E. Housing 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. The City of St. Paul's website currently notes: "As of April 19, 2021, and until further notice, the City will temporarily cease enforcement of the ordinance’s requirements, including any rules previously posted."
As of June 2021, City Council is considering repealing the hard-won SAFE Tenant Protections, and is in the process of discussing this proposal. We oppose this repeal and encourage West Siders to submit public comment and write your city councilmember sharing why tenant protections are important to you.
In the words of Bob Craft, long time West Side Community Organization volunteeer and neighbor:
"I am astounded that the City Council would retreat from protecting tenants with the proposed repeal of our Safe Housing Ordinance. The Council had to know the landlords would litigate the matter. Giving up without a fight because of one judge's opinion indicates both a lack of resolve and a misplaced concern for legal expenses over human rights. Claiming that other protections and resources are available insults the testimony of all those who supported the ordinance because those resources fail tenants time and again."
At WSCO, we urge the City Council not to repeal this crucial ordinance. Instead, they should at the very least wait until we have clearer legal direction from the courts in order to chart a path forward that will stand up for our values and protect St. Paul renters!
For more details, check out Housing Justice Center's legal memo.
From left: HENS leaders Tram Hoang from the Alliance, Shaquonna Jackson from the Southeast Community Organization, and Michael McDowell and Monica Bravo from the West Side Community Organization
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? Contact our Program Manager, Genevieve, at [email protected] to learn more. Other ways to connect:
- Join our Facebook group; West Side Housing Justice to find out about upcoming events
- Join the Housing Justice Action Circle
- Participate in monthly West Side tenant assemblies
- Organize for rent stabilization in St. Paul
The right to organize
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 can organize your building and neighbors to demand better living conditions, whether that is requesting repairs from a landlord, beating back a rent hike, forming an tenant’s union, or working to pass rent stabilization and other affordable housing measures.
Together we are powerful! Join us!
- How to Make a Housing Complaint: a how-to guide for residents to work with the City's Department of Safety and Inspections
- Sample form letters from HOMELine: these letters "help you communicate and document your rental housing issues. The forms are are not legal advice. If you have a legal question about your situation or need advice about using any of the forms, contact our tenant hotline 612-728-5767 (or 612-255-8870 en español).
- Housing Justice Center: lists resources, reports, and litigation related to housing justice in Minnesota
Tenant organizing resources
- DSA-NYC Tenant Organizing Manual
- Chicago ATU tenant organizing How-To zine
- HOME Line “Form a Tenant Association”
- MN Tenant-Landlord law resources
- Tenants Together
WSCO is not a direct service provider. However, we do our best to help refer you to available resources:
HOMEline is a free legal-aid hotline for tenants across Minnesota: 612-728-5767 or 612-255-8870 en español
Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services (SMRLS) is a legal aid organization that can help low-income individuals on tenant and other issues : 1-888-575-2954
Neighborhood House: Family Centers can offer support and assistance if you are facing a housing crisis; call their intake number to set up an appointment: 651-793-7340
Housing Link: information and resources to find affordable and subsidized housing
Minnesota Housing Finance Agency: resources and contact information to help people who need rental assistance, affordable rental housing, or shelter.
Housing Benefits 101: information on how to access homeless services in your county, keep your housing, and change your home. You can also call, email, or chat online with resource experts.
www.mnhousing.org Rental or energy assistance to help prevent utility shut-offs or an eviction.
Resources for landlords
Are you a landlord invested in housing justice? Do you have questions about how to get involved? Contact us!
- Landlord 101 course: From the City of St. Paul, this class provides foundations for the development of property management skills and to better understand tenant, landlord relationships and responsibilities.
- Resources for Tenant & Landlord Issues (City of St. Paul Page)
- Landlords and Tenants: Rights and Responsibilities - The rights and duties of landlords and tenants in Minnesota law.
- Rental Rehabilitation Loan Program - Landlords can get help preserve existing affordable rental housing options in Saint Paul.