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Housing is a Human Right

It’s been a little over 100 years since women won the right to vote, and today, we just take that for granted. 100 years from now, I’d like to say that that women won housing for all, and that it will just be a given that housing is a human right.

I’m a tenant organizer, and I manage the tenant hotline for Concord. It’s 90% women who call for help – single moms ­– fighting to keep a roof over their kids’ heads. I was once one of them.

A few years ago, my landlord wanted to raise the rents in our building from about $1375 per month to $2,200, and he started evicting people. I formed a tenants’ union in our building, and we marched to the landlord’s office. He told us that in Concord, tenants have no rights, and he didn’t have to give any reason to throw people out. He was right, and he could throw any one of us out to the street in the middle of the night.

I fought hard and won. Why? Because of my daughter. I don’t want her to be afraid that we will be homeless. And I’m fighting hard now, because in spite of the state law that prevents landlords from raising rents or evicting people in the pandemic through June, landlords are doing it. People who never thought it would happen to them are losing their jobs and being evicted.

The odds are against us, but I keep fighting. People might think I’m crazy and that we can never pass laws protecting tenants in Concord. But I look back in history to those women fighting for the right to vote, and people probably thought they were crazy too.

I know if we keep fighting, people will look back 100 years from now and have their minds blown that a dirty, cockroach-infested two-bedroom apartment cost $3,000 per month. So join me this Women’s History Month in our fight, so that in 100 years, we will all have a good place to live and change the narrative to be, “Housing is a human right…not just for some people…for all.”

By Betty Gabaldon, EBASE Tenant Organizer