On April 9: VTU Steering Committee member Rocco Trigueros organized a Spanish-speaking tenants’ rights session for the community in Vancouver. There are about 37,000 people in Vancouver with Spanish as their first language.
The purpose of the session was to say clearly that evictions for profit are not ok and it is ok to fight back. Tenants may come from situations where economic divides are harsher and fighting back isn’t rewarded, and they might not know their chances of successfully fighting renovictions. Some tenants may not realize the law protects them from unannounced landlord visits and may not know there are legal limits to the restrictions that landlords can try to impose.
VTU members David Hendry, Eliot Galan, and Luis Porte offered personal examples of resisting renoviction, creating a comfortable space for follow-up questions about the tenants' own situations. Organizer Rocco Trigueros explained that one of the first challenges to tenant organizing is tackling the idea that there is nothing we can do. He emphasized that strength in numbers makes fighting back possible, pointing to recent successes in New Westminster.
The panel also gave tips for spotting signs of demoviction--harder to resist than a renoviction--and how to successfully create a paper trail with good documentation practices. Documentation is key, but not all tenants are practiced at asking landlords to be accountable in writing.
People attending the session came from around the Lower Mainland and included two landlords who were interested in learning about tenancy laws and limits.
Rocco reported that sharing personal stories and creating outreach space in a familiar language helped the community feel addressed and especially included. The goal now is to connect more of the Spanish-speaking community with VTU resources and solidarity.
Via: VTU social media: “What a great evening of learning tenants’ rights and strategies to fight greedy evictions. We had great questions all night. Thanks to el Sindicato de Inquilinos de Vancouver(VTU) and the Mexican Consulate. Our all-Spanish speaking session for the Latin community was very rewarding.”
For interested volunteers, the next steps will be for Spanish-speaking VTU members to continue outreach, such as tabling at Latin festivals and events and helping to connect community leaders with the VTU for support in organizing their buildings.