Back in December, Holyoke Mayor Joshua Garcia committed to creating a committee that would explore building out an Office of Tenant Protections so renters have somewhere to turn when landlords fail.
This office would bridge the gap between the lived experience of tenants and the protections we already have on paper. These protections remain out of reach for tenants who fear landlord retaliation. The result is that too many people live in conditions that are unsafe and unsanitary, from moldy ceilings to mice infestations to broken doors.
So, we showed up at City Hall. Last month, 100 people made calls and 40 more showed up to rally for tenant protections in Holyoke.
An Office of Tenant Protections just makes sense. This office would:
- Create a public registry of who owns our home so we know who is responsible for maintaining safe and sanitary conditions
- Take a proactive approach to ensuring quality housing with bi-annual and pre-lease inspections
- Make legal council available to tenants who have questions or concerns
- Make sure both renters and owners know our rights and responsibilities through quarterly workshops
- Be a one-stop shop for tenants who need better living conditions or are facing discrimination
Mayor Garcia has come out in support of tenant protections. But now, he says that he is “not in the position” to create an Office of Tenant Protections.
We know that creating this office is well within his power. Towns like Amherst and Somerville have done it already. We know Mayor Garcia can do the right thing, so we’re holding him to it.
In a city where tenants make up 64% of the population, an Office of Tenant Protections would mean huge steps to improve our quality of life.
At the rally, tenants talked about how alone they’ve felt trying to get their landlord to fix broken bathrooms and broken heaters. About the fear of having nowhere to go if you’re forced out. About choosing between medical care and paying rent.
It doesn’t have to be like this.
Your support makes it possible for us to show up, call in, and change the way our cities work. Thank you for all you do.
All photos by Sage Orville Photography.