About the campaign
Homes Guarantee is a campaign born from the vision of grassroots leaders: we live in the richest country in the history of the world; we can and we must guarantee that everyone has a home. We organize with 50+ tenant-led groups in 24 states across the country, and we’ve built a campaign team of over 75 tenant leaders, 25 organizers, and a team of policy and political partners. This year, in response to the ongoing rent inflation crisis, we’ve been organizing to win federal rent regulations.
The federal government is in business with our landlords. Every year, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, known as the Government Sponsored Enterprises, provide $150 billion in financing to landlords. These loans have lucrative terms and almost no strings attached. The Homes Guarantee campaign is organizing to win rent regulations and tenant protections in apartment units with these loans from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). The FHFA is the regulator and conservator of Fannie and Freddie. This could impact up to 12 million apartment units nationwide.
As a result of tenant organizing, the Federal Housing Finance Agency opened a Request for Input on Tenant Protections in May. This summer we organized 2,374 responses from tenants, allies, and Members of Congress to the Request for Input. Our policy team is conducting extensive research, drafting model policy, mainstreaming our ideas in the media, and identifying congressional champions as FHFA reviews these comments and decides on next steps.
Above: West Side Tenant Union member Bella Mendoza speaks with renters from across the country in Washington, D.C. during the Tenant Takeover. Photo credit: Shedrick Pelt
Why this matters to the West Side
We know the rent is too high on the West Side, and that renters of color are disproportionately impacted. Over half of all renters on the West Side are unable to afford rent, and of those renters, the majority are Latino, Black, Asian, and other renters of color. The West Side Tenant Union is organizing renters from around the neighborhood, including people whose buildings are covered by loans that could qualify for federal tenant protections if this campaign wins.
Join the West Side Tenant Union! We meet weekly right here on the West Side. Contact our Housing Justice Organizer, Mayra Avila, at [email protected] to get started, and learn more at www.wsco.org/wstu.
Highlights from D.C.:
• Congressional briefing: On November 15, the Homes Guarantee Campaign hosted a packed Congressional briefing on Housing Supply and Federal Tenant Protections (pictured, above. Photo credit: Shedrick Pelt).
• Press conference: After the briefing, tenant leaders held a press conference with Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Rep. Jayapal, calling for the Federal Housing Finance Agency to limit rent hikes in properties with federally-backed mortgages.
• Meeting with the Federal Housing Finance Agency: Tenants met with Lauryn Enrico, a Supervisory Policy Analyst at the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Tenants discussed the results of the FHFA’s Request for Input on Tenant Protections and FHFA’s plan for next steps in the policymaking process. Tenants also shared their expertise on how the FHFA can require and enforce safe conditions in properties.
• Direct Action at Starwood Capital: Tenant leaders took direct action at a Starwood Capital office in Washington, DC. Starwood Capital is the largest landlord in the country. Their business model relies on predatory rent hikes and is made possible by lucrative loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Starwood’s CEO Barry Sternlicht, has referred to 20% rent hikes in their properties as “the gift that keeps on giving”. Staff in the office refused to meet with tenants. Tenants gave testimony about the impact that rent hikes have had on their families while tenants chanted “the rent is too damn high”. Read Vice News coverage of the direct action here.
• Training and Strategic Planning: During the Tenant Takeover, tenant leaders received training on direct action and the role of the federal government in shaping our housing market. We drafted scenario plans for the next phase of our campaign. We also spent time visioning beyond the campaign for rent regulations. Tenant leaders schemed up ideas such as making a tenant organizing handbook and organizing a national tenant union.
Above: Jessica Klimisch, Mayra Avila, Myisha Holley, and Koveyia McPipe represent the West Side and take action in Washington.
In the news
- VIDEO: More Perfect Union. November 27, 2023.
- VIDEO: Washington Post. November 14, 2023.
- Vice. November 20, 2023. Tenants and Economists Are Pushing to Regulate Rent for a Vast Amount of U.S. Housing. Roshan Abraham.
- Marketwatch. November 18, 2023. Landlords are in the crosshairs as advocates and politicians question rising rents. Aarthi Swaminathan.
- Truthout. November 18, 2023. Priced Out and Fed Up, Tenants Demand a National Renters Bill of Rights. Mike Ludwig.
- Green Street News. November 17, 2023. Fannie, Freddie Turning Away More Loans. Zach Fox.
- Law360. November 15, 2023. Experts, Tenants Want FHFA Action On Housing Crisis. Grace Dixon.
- NC Newsline. November 16, 2023. ‘Out of control’: Advocates rally in D.C. calling for action on housing crisis. Samantha Dietel. Also published in: Missouri Independent, APG of Wisconsin, Star-Herald, Ground News