The group’s founding executive director, Lina Lee, said the organization operates under a community-based organizing model.
They send their attorneys to the buildings with the worst landlords and represent tenants in all different forms, including in housing court.
“We take every action possible to make sure that they get repairs, fight harassment and discrimination,” Lee said. “We make sure they have the leverage to fight against their landlords.”
Communities Resist has organizers on staff, but also works with partner organizations. Together, they unite the tenants as a collective group.
“As a single tenant, it’s really difficult to fight by themselves,” she said. “But when we go as a group, it’s a huge leverage point.”
Lee added that the attorneys and organizers meet in the tenants’ homes and really get to know these families.
“It’s not a one-time representation,” she said. “We’re committed to them once we represent them.”
The newly formed group, a project of Southside United HDFC, works mostly in north Brooklyn, including neighborhoods like Williamsburg, Bushwick and East New York.
“We represent the families that have been living here for decades, and are in the most need of help,” she said. “It’s the gentrified areas that landlords really use harassment to kick out the old tenants.”
But Lee said they’re also seeing tenant harassment take place in Queens neighborhoods like Astoria, Elmhurst, Woodside and Jackson Heights.
“We are looking to expand further around Brooklyn, but also into the western part of Queens in the next fiscal year,” Lee said.