Tenant Education Program
In order to work towards our mission of safe, stable and affordable rental homes, tenants need a place to call home. So CAT works to provide tenants with the basic information and strategies we need to know what our rights are and how to protect them. With this knowledge, we stand a better chance of maintaining our housing and being able to focus on building more protections for tenants under the law. Our Education Program is run almost entirely by our membership – tenants helping tenants. So we are able to provide something that no other group in Oregon can – concrete information about landlord-tenant law in everyday language, that real renters can understand. We also work with folks one-on-one to come up with a strategy that fits their particular situation. Because many of us have been through similar situations, we understand what people who use the hotline are going through.
Tenant Education has many components:
1. The Renters’ Rights Hotline gives tenants detailed information about their rights and practical suggestions to help protect those rights. We can help renters anywhere in Oregon. The hotline operates most afternoons and some evening and weekend times.
2. Workshops in the community (usually the greater Portland area) to provide an orientation to landlord-tenant law and to give renters information needed to protect our rights, and
3. A series of renter information brochures explaining the law in everyday language and suggesting courses of action that will increase the ability of renters to remain in our current homes.
If you would like to volunteer in this capacity, contact our Volunteer Coordinator, Lamarra Haynes.
Building-Based Organizing with the Safe Housing Project
CAT has been organizing tenants in the buildings where they live with the Safe Housing Project since 2004. Since we began, tenants have identified habitability and repair issues, as well as their vulnerability to no-cause evictions from retaliation, as their top priorities. The Safe Housing Project has organized over 50 buildings and apartment complexes throughout the Portland metro area.
Tenants that participate in the Safe Housing Project develop skills in leadership, public speaking, meeting facilitation, and grassroots organizing. Tenants also learn about their rights as renters and how to reduce indoor health hazards. CAT staff and volunteers teach renters in apartment complexes in the Portland area how to organize around essential repair issues by demanding for safe, stable and affordable housing. We provide renters experiencing repair problems with education, expertise around city code and city inspectors, and support to fight for better quality housing.
The goal of the project is to improve housing conditions and build tenant power through education, training and building-based organizing.
* We do door-to-door outreach to get other tenants in the building involved.
* We organize and facilitate tenants’ meeting to discuss repair needs throughout the complex.
* We provide education about renters’ right and tools to identify hazards within the home through workshops.
* We support tenants’ action to get repairs.
* We provide legal referrals, calls to the city inspectors and technical support.
* We train and provide advocacy opportunities for tenants to address repair and habitability issues to the city and media on a larger scale.
The first step is for neighbors to start talking to each other. Through collective action, tenants gain strength and reduce their chances of being retaliated against by their landlord for demanding improvements that are required under the law. If you live in the Portland area and would like more information about organizing in your building, contact our Organizing Team.
Research and Publications
CAT partners with academics, organizations and agencies to conduct and public research projects that educate the public, help tenants and affect policy. Much of the research we do focuses on habitability issues inside rental homes, and the lack of tenant protection, as well as the severe lack of affordable housing, can negatively affect residents’ health.
All Tenant Education services are available in both Spanish and English, with access to other languages for many activities as well.
“I called the Renters’ Rights Hotline sobbing one day after arriving to Portland from Denver. Our home was a mess. CAT gave me the tools to fight for repairs needed and courage to take on housing challenges.”