Our Organizing History
Causa Justa :: Just Cause (CJJC) brings together two organizations that evolved different organizing models in their respective communities.
St. Peter’s Housing Committee was founded on a service provision model, and later brought service provision and organizing together in direct response to community needs. For decades, St. Peter’s ran a tenant counseling clinic that helped tenants advocate for themselves around issues like rent increases, evictions and harassment. As more and more residents were being pushed out of their homes, these counseling services served as a mechanism to grow St. Peter’s as a membership organization that fought — and won — campaigns around issues of gentrification and displacement.
Just Cause Oakland, on the other hand, developed out of a more traditional community organizing model that prioritized door-to-door outreach to recruit large numbers of members to participate in fighting campaigns. Over its ten years, Just Cause Oakland led successful campaigns for tenants’ rights and mobilized thousands of Oaklanders for housing rights protections.
CJJC is building on the important lessons and innovative models we have tested over years working in our communities. Our model incorporates service provision, door-to-door outreach and strategic campaigns. Our new Oakland-based tenants’ rights clinic provides a clear example of our work to integrate these two models. Through counseling and trainings we are assuring tenants’ have critical information about their rights and responsibilities; through door-to-door outreach we are broadening the reach of these much-needed services and directly engaging a broader cross-section of residents in campaigns for tenants’ rights. We believe that this kind of integrated model is exactly the type of innovation the field of community organizing needs to break out of isolation, address immediate needs and deepen our impact.
Building Black-Brown Unity
CJJC was born out of a shared commitment to building deep solidarity between the African American and Latino communities in San Francisco and Oakland. We believe that Black-Brown unity is foundational for the development of a vibrant grassroots movement, but that unity can’t be built in the abstract. It has to be forged through real relationships and shared struggle. Prior to our merger, Just Cause Oakland had a strong base in Oakland’s African American community and fought dozens of inspiring campaigns, while St. Peter’s Housing Committee had been doing powerful organizing and tenant advocacy with the Latino community in San Francisco. Now as CJJC, we have created the context needed to turn the ideal of Black-Brown unity into a lived reality for our communities.
Locally, we choose campaigns that protect vulnerable tenants and homeowners against displacement and homelessness as well as campaigns that protect and promote immigrant rights. We wage policy campaigns to win concrete victories that guarantee our people are housed, fed, safe and healthy. Our day-to-day work improves the lives and conditions of the residents of the neighborhoods we work in and is driven by informed assessment of the interconnectedness of all social justice issues on both national and international scales.
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