City Life/Vida Urbana's Bank Tenant Association Organizing Manual
The information we have included in this manual is a product of interviews with CL/VU organizers, staff, and members of our leadership team. We also spoke to volunteers and organizers working in some of our replication sites, and several of our legal and non-profit lender partners.
While we have worked hard to make this manual useful to a broad range of groups, we’re also aware that our model is influenced by the fact that Massachusetts has one of the strongest tenant laws in the country. Because, for example, the banks cannot evict tenants living in foreclosed properties (although they can evict the homeowners), much of our campaign has a post-foreclosure strategy—an approach that may not work for cities and states with weaker tenant protections. What this means is that while this manual can provide general guidance, you will need to modify the model to fit the needs of your own groups and communities.
It’s also important to keep in mind that there is no one right way to implement this campaign. In fact, our own model is evolving every day and we have much to learn from one another. We depend on your input to make this manual vibrant and responsive to the needs of all BTAs across the country.
The important thing to remember is that the model is a simple one, built on the premise that you can in fact win major battles against big financial institutions if enough people are willing to fight—and this model is an effective way to bring people to the fight and to build an organized people’s force.
Here are some recommendations for how to get the most out of this publication:
- Skim through the entire manual to get a sense of its contents and the topics that will be useful to you.
- Use the Starting Up section as a roadmap. It will help you understand the sequence of actions entailed in starting a BTA. Each step is followed with references to the later chapter(s) that contain more detailed information.
- Take the Self-Test after finishing the manual. It’s a good way to make sure that you have retained the most important points.
- Review the attached documents and watch the linked videos. Some information is better conveyed by watching as opposed to reading.
We humbly offer this manual as a resource to those who are new to the movement as well as those who we know may already have extraordinary organizing experience and an extensive record of accomplishment. While we are proud of this document, we are also aware that it has its limits—particularly if you are starting out. Recognizing this, CL/VU also offers supplementary support in the form of presentations, customized trainings, videos and other technical assistance including opportunities to observe and shadow established groups.
We encourage you to contact us with requests for additional support or suggestions for changes and wish you strength and endurance as you take on this important battle.