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The housing market is not necessary

ETOC: Emergency Tenant Organizing Committee

The Emergency Tenant Organizing Committee program is an ambitious plan to build a outward-facing tenant unionization effort by training and mentoring DSA members & their comrades participating in tenant organizing all across the United States.

The tenant unions that we construct must build organized tenant militancy and capacity as we leverage our working class power in everyday struggles against landlords, developers and other real estate capitalists. 

Through development of this rigorous tenant organizing project, ETOC seeks to strengthen the internal coherence & collective purpose of DSA Housing Justice Commission.

The program has three (3) steps: Intake (1), Training (2), Mentorship (3).

ETOC Reach in 2022


DSA chapters represented


Attended training weekend


Mentorship cohorts


New tenants unions


In 2023, the Housing Justice Commission, a national body of the DSA, drafted, debated, and democratically voted in favor of a statement on social housing. This statement became known as “The 4 Principles of Social Housing”. Its purpose is to facilitate socialist tenant organizers in discussing not only the current state of organizing for housing, but also steps towards a horizon of truly social housing free from capitalism and financialization.

Social housing is when people live where we want, with whom we want, and how we want – to the extent that we can imagine using all available resources through a democratic process. According to the HJC membership, social housing consists of all of the following four principles, without exception:

Capitalism requires the private ownership of land, upon which the very possibility of surplus value extraction is based. A definition of social housing must challenge this fundamental relation of the capitalist mode of production.

Social housing must authorize those who directly depend on the provision of the housing in question to decide the fate of their community. Social housing does not offer an equal seat at the table to developers, investors, or city councilors. Social housing prioritizes and makes real the collective will of tenants.

Under capitalism housing prioritizes profits over people and planet – buildings are made cheaply with high external costs to the environment; neighborhoods are cycled through disinvestment, dispossession, and gentrification; and cities are selectively improved with public dollars to overwhelmingly benefit the already wealthy at the expense of the poor. Social housing breaks this pattern by adhering to design, architecture, and social planning that serves everyone, which also means protecting and reviving our ecosystems and when possible prioritizing renovation and renewal over new construction.

Housing must be available for everyone, free of segregation by income or race. Housing also must be accessible for people of very different needs. That requires us to improve housing standards to accommodate all disabilities and needs through flexibility, creativity, and advance planning.

Interested in discussing The 4 Principles of Social Housing with your local DSA housing justice working group or tenant union? You can download all necessary resources, including a study guide, here. And be sure to JOIN THE HJC to explore social housing and tenant union organizing with your DSA comrades from around the country!

About the Housing Justice Commission (HJC)

The Housing Justice Commission (HJC) coordinates national and regional campaigns for tenants’ rights and housing policy, and supports local DSA chapters in the creation and expansion of tenant organizing. The HJC has three subcommittees: ETOC, policy, and political education.

ETOC: Development and execution of tenant organizing trainings, mentorship, and chapter outreach.

Policy: Development of tools and resources for housing justice campaigns across DSA (e.g. right to counsel, just cause, social housing)

Political Education: Educational events around housing justice; conducts programs related to socialist theory, history, and methodology.