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CAPE FEAR MEMORIAL BRIDGE: Updates, resources, and context

North Carolina now has a statewide tenants union

Tenant activists calling for regulation of rent hikes outside the White House.
Shedrick Pelt
Courtesy of People's Action
Tenant activists calling for regulation of rent hikes outside the White House.

Tenants from across the state have come together to form the North Carolina Tenants Union, a statewide organization fighting for housing as a human right.

Six regional tenants’ unions from metro areas across the state have created a new, statewide organization to represent the one-third of North Carolinians who rent.

The new organization is forming in the midst of a national and statewide housing crisis, in which a quarter of tenants spend more than half their income on rent each month. Nick MacLeod is the union’s new executive director, and says he aims to represent the state's 1.4 million rental households.

“What it has become clear, and it's really driven a lot of our work is that the the depth and scale of this crisis, if we do nothing, it's just getting worse," he said. "There's no no one is coming to save us but ourselves.”

Regional tenant unions have seen success around the state. In Winston-Salem, public housing tenants prevented the sale of their building, and in Raleigh, tenants of one building stopped a 65% rent increase through public pressure. But MacLeod wants to see protections expand to every tenant in the state.

“So statewide, our priorities are to win major expansions to tenants rights to protect tenants against arbitrary eviction and protect tenants against rent gouging," he said.

That includes the right to counsel, in which tenants automatically get legal representation in eviction hearings.

Each regional tenant union will still work to serve their local residents as they fight to protect their rights, even as they collaborate statewide. MacLeod said the organization came together with the support of the North Carolina Housing Coalition, an advocacy organization that has long advocated for housing affordability for renters and homeowners alike.

Kelly Kenoyer is an Oregonian transplant on the East Coast. She attended University of Oregon’s School of Journalism as an undergraduate, and later received a Master’s in Journalism from University of Missouri- Columbia. Contact her on Twitter @Kelly_Kenoyer or by email: KKenoyer@whqr.org.