Our History

50+ years of struggle in the service of tenants.

Introduction

Over the past fifty years, Met Council on Housing has worked to preserve and expand the supply of decent, integrated and affordable housing in New York City. Read a decade-by-decade overview of this history here.

Organizer Biographies

Learn about some of the organizers who have shaped Met Council on Housing over the years, including Jane Benedict of Yorkville Save Our Homes, Jane Wood from the Chelsea Coalition on Housing, Harlem tenant organizer Bess Stevenson, and others.

Early Grassroots Political Action

Met Council on Housing used grassroots community organizing to advocate for tenants’ rights. In the years following Met Council on Housing’s founding, the organization addressed pressing issues such as urban renewal, the need for more public housing and the expansion of Columbia University into Morningside Heights.

Organizing in the 70s and 80s

In later years, Met Council on Housing turned its attention to supporting the citywide squatters’ movement, raising awareness about poor housing conditions through events such as the People’s Court Housing Crimes Trial, and challenging the practice of warehousing apartments.

Legislative Campaigns

An overview of the legislative campaigns central to the work of Met Council on Housing: challenging the Urstadt Law and Maximum Base Rent, campaigning for the Emergency Tenant Protection Act and the Flynn-Dearie rent control bill, and fighting the 1997 Rent Wars.

Collective Action & Mutual Aid

A look at the diverse tactics that Met Council on Housing has employed in pursuit of tenant justice: including rent strikes, vigils and annual trips to Albany for Tenant Lobby Day. Also an examination of tenant mutual aid, which has formed the basis of Met Council on Housing’s work since its founding, including branch offices across the city, rent clinics and WBAI’s Housing Notebook.

Solidarity

Met Council on Housing also lent their support to other political movements, sending a large delegation to the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, supporting the Trailways Bus boycott and organizing with the Congress of Racial Equality, the Black Panther Party and the Young Lords.

Bibliography & Credits

Further reading suggestions on the history of Met Council on Housing and tenant organizing in New York City, as well as the sources for this exhibition. Project credits and acknowledgements.