Councilwoman Adriana Rocha Garcia announces resolution for Tenant Bill of Rights
City council members, housing advocates, and local tenants announced a resolution on Tuesday that would enshrine a San Antonio Tenant Bill of Rights into municipal law.
The resolution is expected to reaffirm existing code enforcement and housing policies while also prioritizing low-income and non-English-speaking tenants.
Sylvia Flores, one of the tenants who spoke at the press conference where the resolution was announced, explained why existing tenants' rights and housing policies needed to be reaffirmed.
“It is very important for us to pass the tenant bill of rights in San Antonio, because we as renters are often not aware that we don’t have to live like this,” Flores said.
Keisha Brown, another tenant, explained that conditions many tenants face are unbearable.
“This is real,” Brown said. “These conditions are not safe, they’re not healthy. And we need change, and we are the change, so that’s why we’re here.”
Housing advocacy organizations Texas Organizing Project, Texas Housers, My City is My Home, and the Coalition for Tenant Justice have spent months organizing tenants around San Antonio and helping develop the language for the Tenant Bill of Rights.
District 4 Councilwoman Adriana Rocha Garcia, who will be sponsoring the resolution, said the Tenant Bill of Rights was one in a slew of policies the city council has pursued to support renters.
“We revised policies to support affordable housing and protect living standards for our residents of all income levels,” she said. “All these great changes to local policies are driven by members of our community, like the ones standing here behind us and next to us, and we’re very proud to stand with them.”
Rocha Garcia added that the protections were especially important in San Antonio given that renters make up almost half of the city’s population.
Rocha Garcia was joined by three of her council colleagues at the press conference: District 2 Councilman Jalen McKee-Rodriguez, District 5 Councilwoman Teri Castillo, and District 7 Councilwoman Ana Sandoval.
McKee-Rodriguez said he was supporting the resolution because he consistently hears about poor rental conditions from residents in his district.
“I can’t tell you how many calls we’ve received — at least dozens — from tenants in my district who are being neglected by their management companies, by their landlords, and these are not luxurious things that are being asked for, this is the bare minimum,” he said. “This is about respect.”
Sandoval and Castillo added that the tenants and housing advocates had their full support to get the resolution passed.
While a draft of the resolution is not yet available, Rocha-Garcia said a draft would be reviewed at a city council meeting in February.
Flores finished her statement by urging residents and council members to support the Tenant Bill of Rights.
“Now is the time for San Antonio to pass a Tenant Bill of Rights,” she said. “To protect renters from unsafe living conditions, discrimination, and retaliation from landlords. We deserve safe homes.”