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Right to the City

A New National Alliance

Right to the City (RTTC) is a newly formed alliance of base building groups and allies from cities across the U.S. calling for a united response to gentrification and displacement. We stand together under the notion of a right to the city for all.

Over the past decade, working-class urban communities across the United States have experienced displacement at a scale not seen since the 1960s, when urban renewal programs destroyed over 1,600 Black neighborhoods. This time the assault on communities of color cannot be attributed to a single program or policy, but is rather the expression of comprehensive neo-liberal economic policies in urban space. While creative resistance is ongoing, it is generally local, dispersed, and reactive.
Through a common vision, principles and theory of change, we are building a national urban movement for housing, education, health, racial justice, and democracy. The Alliance’s goals are to strengthen local capacity, build regional collaboration, advance a national platform, and support community reclamation in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.

Right to the City at the United States Social Forum

The Alliance officially launched at the United States Social Forum in June. We arrived in Atlanta with a 250- person delegation representing over 20 groups from 8 major cities: Oakland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Miami, Boston, DC Metro, and New York City. Our first public demonstration took place at the Opening March as we marched together under the banner of “Take Back the City!” through downtown Atlanta. RTTC organized 8 workshops all of which were filled to capacity. Our workshops were a space to present the right to the city framework and vision and assess it’s resonance as well as provide a chance for people from all over to share experiences and strategies with one another. Through popular education, interactive panels, and small group discussions, our workshops covered a range of issues from the root causes of gentrification and displacement, the right to self-determination of displaced African American communities, grassroots leadership development, best practices to pushing back gentrification, lessons from left movement building in the Global South, gentrification in global cities, and the centrality of race, gender and nationality in the struggle for the right to the city.
At the People’s Movement Assembly, the Alliance presented a resolution calling for a national urban movement that responds to neoliberalism. We shared our belief that the right to the city is the right for all people to produce the living conditions that meet their needs this includes the following basic principles:

  • The right to land and housing that is free from market speculation and that serves the interests of community building, sustainable economies, and cultural and political space.
  • The right to permanent public ownership of urban territories for public use.
  • The right of working class communities of color, women, queer and transgender people to an economy that serves their interests.
  • The right of First Nation indigenous people to their ancestral lands that have historical or spiritual significance, regardless of state borders and urban or rural settings
  • The right to sustainable and healthy neighborhoods & workplaces, healing, quality health care, and reparations for the legacy of toxic abuses such as brown fields, cancer clusters, and superfund sites.
  • The right to safe neighborhoods and protection from police, INS/ICE, and vigilante repression which has historically targeted communities of color, women, queer and transgender people.
  • The right of equal access to housing, employment, and public services regardless of race, ethnicity, and immigration status and without the threat of deportation by landlords, ICE, or employers.
  • The right of working class communities of color to transportation, infrastructure and services that reflect and support their cultural and social integrity.
  • The right of community control and decision making over the planning and governance of the cities where we live and work, with full transparency and accountability, including the right to public information without interrogation.
  • The right of working class communities of color to economic reciprocity and restoration from all local, national and transnational institutions that have exploited and/or displaced the local economy.
  • The right to support and build solidarity between cities across national boundaries, without state intervention.
  • The right of rural people to economically healthy and stable communities that are protected from environmental degradation and economic pressures that force migration to urban areas.

In the coming year, we will continue build our membership base to include two new regions, Chicago and New Orleans. The Alliance will strengthen the capacity of our local bases and promote regional exchanges and learning to increase our collective knowledge and power. The Right to the City Alliance also looks forward to developing a relationship with the International Alliance of Inhabitants and continuing to learn from international allies and their struggles for land, democracy and human rights.