Right to Housing Alliance
Right to Housing Alliance (RTHA) is a human rights organization led by residents impacted by the affordable housing crisis in Baltimore. Our mission is “Residents building a movement for the human right to housing and community control of land in Baltimore.” We have been working with tenants and homeowners since spring of 2012 using a model called the “Sword & Shield,” developed by City Life/Vida Urbana in Boston; the “sword” is the power of organized communities to act collectively for justice, and the “shield” is legal strategy, defense, and information. We have added a third component that we still have not named, which we are calling “The Other Thing.” The "other thing" is leadership development, education, and collective political consciousness-raising. Over the past three years we have been working with tenants across Baltimore City, holding community meetings in Oliver, Liberty Heights, Gwynn Oak, Mt. Vernon, and now downtown due to resident demand. These member meetings function as the nerve center of the Sword & Shield—where residents can meet for free with attorneys from the Public Justice Center, develop organizing strategies to work hand-in-hand with legal solutions, and collectively grow our understanding of the roots of the housing crisis. Each attendee is given an “Action Workbook,” which gives them an immediate opportunity to become an organizer. These meetings are a place for us to make sure that new members can get the legal and organizing support they need immediately while we build collective power. Our goal in fusing these three elements—action, legal support, and education—is to build a powerful and knowledgeable base of residents who will lead the fight to ensure that human rights values of universality, equity, participation, peace, and dignity are reflected in policies and narrative of how we think about housing in Baltimore.