Right to the City

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Right to the City is associated with the Freedom Road Socialist Organization. It emerged in 2007 as a unified response to gentrification and a call to halt the displacement of low-income people, people of color, marginalized LGBTQ communities, and youths of color from their historic urban neighborhoods. We are a national alliance of racial, economic and environmental justice organizations.

Through shared principles and a common frame and theory of change, RTTC is building a national movement for racial justice, urban justice, human rights, and democracy.

RTTC seeks to create regional and national impacts in the fields of housing, human rights, urban land, community development, civic engagement, criminal justice, environmental justice, and more. Right to the City was born out of desire and need by organizers and allies around the country to have a stronger movement for urban justice. But it was also born out of the power of an idea of a new kind of urban politics that asserts that everyone, particularly the disenfranchised, not only has a right to the city, but as inhabitants, have a right to shape it, design it, and operationalize an urban human rights agenda.

In the realm of ideas, a key resource and touchstone is “Le droite à la ville” (Right to the City) a book published in 1968 by French intellectual and philosopher Henri Lefebvre. In the sphere of human rights, this powerful idea was adopted by the World Urban Forum and elaborated into the World Charter of the Right to the City in 2004. Building from this powerful idea, international principles, and forward looking grassroots organizing, the Right to the City Alliance was established in January 2007.[1]

Network

As of October 2008, Right to the City includes more than forty member organizations and resource allies in seven states and more than a dozen local jurisdictions. Members are organized in regional Right to the City networks, which currently include: Boston/Providence, DC/Northern Virginia, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, and San Francisco/Oakland.

Founders

Gilda Haas, Gihan Perera and Jon Liss, conceived of the Right to the City Alliance.[2]

The Right to the City Alliance: Initiated by the Miami Workers Center, SAJE and Tenants and Workers United in 2007, the Right to the City Alliance brought together organizations from across the country that were organizing against gentrification in working class communities of color.

Right to the City support for Martin Walsh

According to Mel King there’s an additional factor that figured significantly in Martin Walsh’s successful mayoralty campaign in 2013.

A group called Right to the City, composed of various organizations working on access to affordable housing, good jobs, quality education, and sustainable community development, seeks to enable a cross section of racial, ethnic, and income groups to remain and participate in all aspects of Boston.

The group’s members, a new rainbow coalition, are in the forefront of such issues as foreclosure blockades to protect people’s homes, stopping no-fault tenant evictions, and fighting alongside unions for construction jobs.

Following its questionnaire to both mayoral candidates, the group felt Walsh was more responsive to its concerns. Having encouraged these young adults to do this analysis, Mel King joined with them. At our endorsement announcement, I admired their commitment to looking forward and not wallowing in the past.

They saw a candidate who willingly shared parts of his life that indicated he has the capacity for change. He invited them to work with him to make a difference for all the city’s residents.

Both at the endorsement event, when a high school student spoke, and at Fields Corner, where a diverse group rallied, I saw evidence of ways Walsh’s campaign included people. A personal highlight was watching the candidate join in singing a song I wrote: “We are in harmony; once to every generation comes the chance to change the world.”[3],

Leadership

In 2011 Alicia Garza, Chairperson of the Right to the City National Alliance (RTTC) Steering Committee.[4]

In 2010 Right to the City gave thanks and appreciation to the hard work of outgoing Steering Committee members: Denise Perry, Dawn Phillips, and Rickke Mananzala. At the 2010 U.S. Social Forum, the membership elected a new Steering Committee, consisting of: Anita Sinha, Advancement Project; Jon Liss, Tenants and Workers United/Virginia New Majority; Kalila Barnett, Alternatives for Community and Environment; Alicia Garza, POWER; Mark Swier, Mothers On The Move; Eileen Ma, Korean Immigrant Workers Association; Yvette Thierry, Safe Streets Strong Communities; Gihan Perera, Miami Worker Center/Florida New Majority; and Leonardo Vilchis, Union De Vecinos.

Anita Sinha serves on RTTC's Executive Committee as Archivist, and is a Senior Attorney at Advancement Project.[5]

Circa 2014, Dawn Phillips is Chair of the Steering Committee of the Right to the City Alliance.[6]

Staff

As of 2015;[7]

2014 staff

2011 staff

The Right to the City national staff went through some changes in 2011, and has come out strong. The Alliance was very fortunate to hire an experienced and dynamic organizer, Rachel LaForest, as its new Director of Organizing, while it said farewell to its dedicated Lead Organizer, Marisa Franco. Lisette Le joined RTTC as the new Regional Organizer for Boston. Avi Rosenthal is came on board as the New York City Regional Coordinator and we said goodbye to New York City Organizer Shannon Barber. RTTC bade a fond farewell to Carl Lipscombe, and welcomed Mark Swier as the new Operations Coordinator. Claire Tran remains as our now-veteran RTTC staffer, leading the way as National Organizer for Civic Engagement.[9]

RTTC Regional Contacts 2014

RTTC Research Allies

As of 2014;[11]

Allies

As of 2015;[12]

Member Organizations

As of 2014;[13]

Boston/Providence

DC Metro

Los Angeles

Miami

New Orleans

New York City

San Francisco/Bay Area

As of 2015;

ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA

ATLANTA, GEORGIA

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS

CINCINATTI, OHIO

DENVER, COLORADO

GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA

MIAMI, FLORIDA

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA

NEW YORK, NEW YORK

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA

POUGHKEEPSIE, NEW YORK

PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND

SPRINGFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS

VIRGINIA

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS

SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON

ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI

References