The Metropolitan Council on Housing’s motto is “Housing for people, not for profit.” We believe that this will become a reality when housing policies emerge from people who live in buildings, not the people who collect rent from them. That’s why our membership model is so crucial: Our organizing is carried out and supported by people who will benefit from the changes they’re working for.
For more than 50 years, Met Council has played a pivotal role in growing and sustaining New York City’s uniquely vibrant tenant movement. We formed to unify neighborhood groups that were resisting displacement through urban renewal, working to integrate public housing and other “affordable” housing stock, and fighting to preserve the postwar rent controls that covered the vast majority of tenants in privately owned housing, at a time when these protections were being eliminated in most of the country.
Our campaigns for affordable housing and our tenant-assistance programs have always been run by our members. Most people who call our tenants’ rights telephone hotline assume that we are a government agency or social-work center. They are surprised to find that this vital and unique service is run by volunteers from our membership. The same goes for our radio program, our walk-in clinic, and this newspaper.
Crucially, we’re funded almost entirely through the membership dues paid by our tenants—the small contributions of low- and moderate-income New Yorkers who believe in the work we do and understand the importance of supporting an organization that’s fighting for their right to affordable housing.
Right now, we’re making a special appeal to followers who have not yet joined as members to sign up today.
If you already are one of our members, we’re asking that you help us achieve our next round of victories for tenants in the following ways:
First, by making an additional donation to help support our work;
Second, by getting a neighbor or friend who also believes in our mission to join as a member; and
Third, to get more involved, whether in our campaigns or behind the scenes, in whatever ways you are able.
Our New Membership Type: Sustaining Members
We encourage you to join or renew through our Sustaining Member program. Instead of paying your annual membership dues by check, you can spread them out with monthly payments. You decide how much, and how you want to pay. With your authorization, we can bill that amount to your credit card every month, or deduct it from your bank account through Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT).
You can sign up using the form on page 5 of this issue.
It’s the same automatic payment system that you may already use to pay your utility bill, phone bill, or another recurring payment—except that with us, you decide how much you want to give. It’s safe and secure, and if you ever want to cancel, just let us know by letter, phone call, or e-mail, and we’ll stop it immediately.
We prefer this method for a few reasons. Many people find that they’re able to give a bit more if it’s spread out throughout the year. If you’re planning to renew as a basic member at $35 per year, can you afford $5 per month instead? That’s less than one round trip on the subway and a candy bar, but to Met Council, it adds up to $60 over the course of the year.
We really rely on some of our dedicated members being generous and giving more. If it’s hard to write a $100 check all at once, how about $10 per month from your bank account? That’s $120 per year.
Recurring payments avoid the need to renew your membership. They continue until you tell us to stop. This saves us time and money on mailing membership renewal notices. And we’ve found that every year some people simply forget to send in their memberships. We want to avoid losing you this way.
We’re all the beneficiaries of those who have come before us and struggled for justice and equality.
While there’s a long road ahead to winning a city where decent, affordable housing is a right, not a privilege, the generations of struggle on this front have produced a remarkable legacy of achievements.
If keeping New York City a vibrant, diverse, and inclusive of all is important to you, I encourage you to help create a new legacy by including Met Council on Housing in your will. To find out how to do this, send a letter to our offices, call during our hotline hours to talk with a member, or e-mail us at email@example.com.
Why Have Membership Dues?
Memberships provide nearly all of Met Council’s funding. They pay the rent for our office, our phone bills (which runs high to keep our tenants’ rights hotline open), our staff salaries, the expenses related to our campaigns to strengthen tenant protections, and for this newspaper.
Over the past few years, as we’ve pushed hard for stronger rent-regulation laws, we’ve spent thousands of dollars just on busing tenants to rallies in Albany. Each seat on a bus or van to Albany costs about $30, and out of principle, we haven’t required that members pay to get on board. We know that some cannot afford this expense but are passionate about the cause, and that all of our members want their dues to be used to make us as effective as possible in our fight for the strongest rent laws.
In a city where real estate is so lucrative, landlords and developers have incredible influence over politics. They spend millions of dollars per year working to undermine tenant protections—money they made collecting our rents. Low and moderate-income tenants cannot match deep-pocketed landlords in buying political influence—and this would go against our democratic ideals. What we do have going for us is people power, and we have flexed it.
New York’s expansive rent-regulation system and public-housing stock stand in contrast to other American cities, where they have been largely dismantled. Your Met Council membership supports an infrastructure of tenant power that is vital to maintaining and expanding our affordable housing.
Membership dues also keep us independent of the political structure. When politicians are too weak on an issue or come out on the wrong side, our hands are not tied, as we don’t depend on government grants to keep our doors open. We rely on members like you.
Please clip or copy our membership form and join today, or if you’re a member, give this to a friend whom you think should sign up. And please make an additional gift to support our work in the coming year. We appreciate whatever you can give.
Checks and membership forms can be sent to:
Metropolitan Council on Housing
339 Lafayette Street, Suite 301
New York, NY 10012