This manual applies to tenants in HUD multifamily (or project based Section 8) buildings. If you are looking for information about your rights as a Section 8 voucher tenant, see "Section 8 Vouchers":/rights/section-8-vouchers/ and "Section 8 Voucher Organizing":/programs/section-8-voucher-organizing/.
The purpose of this manual is to help tenants in project based Section 8 buildings learn how to organize with other tenants to defend, assert, and expand their rights. If you organize well, you can help build a movement to not only protect and expand your rights but also win respect and a voice in your future. The most important existing right you have is your right to organize. Section 8 tenants in Minnesota along with tenants from around the country campaigned to win a federal law specifically protecting the right of Section 8 tenants to organize. It is through organizing that all your other rights have come to exist, and it is through organizing that you gain the power to decide which newer, stronger rights you need.
The history of the tenants movement and all movements for social change has shown that the single most powerful way for tenants to organize is to stand together in large numbers and take collective action against injustice. There are many different ways to exercise the power you gain from working together.
And since there are so many more of us than there are landlords, it is we who really hold the power. For instance, consider this: tenants could survive if there were no landlords, but landlords could not survive if there were no tenants. It makes one wonder, who is dependent on whom?
If we organize collectively, we can draw public attention to the fact that the system tenants are in is not unchangeable. We can set a powerful example by taking a stand together against a setup that is stacked in favor of the rich and powerful. And remember, the more tenants are educated, organized, and mobilized, the more control we will have over our lives and our future.