Actualizing Equity Recap: Renter Power for Environmental Justice

From left: St Paul City Councilmember Jane Prince, Ben Passer (Fresh Energy), Carolyn Brown (CSP), Janiece Watts (Fresh Energy), Jesse Williams (landlord), St Paul City Councilmember Mitra Nelson, Lee Lucas (CSP)

Like thousands of other St. Paul tenants, Lee Lucas, a board member for Community Stabilization Project, isn’t just worried about rent when it comes to his monthly housing costs. “I’m a fixed income individual and I’m supposed to pay 30 percent of my income for housing,” he said. “But in actuality, due to poor weatherization and heating systems, even with plastic on the windows to keep conditions out, I have to use a fireplace to heat my home. So I may be paying 30 percent for rent but now my energy bill is $300, so it’s not 30 percent of my income.”

Like many other environmental advocates, Janiece Watts, Policy Associate at Fresh Energy, knows that curbing climate emissions starts at home. “We’re not going to meet our clean energy and climate action goals to reduce our carbon footprint if we don’t tackle our housing stock,” she says.

At the Alliance’s first Actualizing Equity 2019 event, Lucas and Watts shared how their respective organizations are working together to bridge the gaps between tenants, landlords and clean energy policy advocates to advance housing affordability and climate justice through the St. Paul Tenant-Landlord Energy Project

Joining Lucas and Watts, Ben Passer, Fresh Energy’s Director of Energy Access and Equity, explained the evolution of the organizational partnership — and the impact its had on Fresh Energy’s approach to policy development and collaborative funding.

A partner of CSP, landlord Jesse Williams outlined how he’s working with the tenant organizers to not only create access for tenants with housing barriers but envision new models to finance permanently affordable housing.

See more photos and read more in the recap resource from the event!

And join us for our next Actualizing Equity event on March 15.