Bozeman Renter’s Union: Claiming their seat at the table

Not sure why you didn’t get your deposit back? Confused about how to read a lease? Can’t find a place to rent that is actually affordable?

You’re not alone.

On Wednesday, Feb. 28 the Bozeman Renter’s Union hosted a potluck at St. James’ Episcopal Church. The Renter’s Union was started by the Forward Montana Foundation (FWDMT), a group working to engage young people in political advocacy. The Union is focused on helping renters collectively bargain against rising unit prices, abusive landlords and poor living conditions many have dealt with in their past.

“I was impressed with the excitement that I saw for this program here in Bozeman. Our first meeting filled Columbo’s Pizza; there were a lot of young people, but also many Bozeman community members, including MSU professors, and everyone came ready to share their stories, as well as plans and ideas for what to do next,” FWDMT Field Manager Kelsey Douville mentioned. “It seems like this had been a long time coming.”

This being their second meeting, members continued to work on their main goals: educating individuals about their rights as renters and letting people know they are not facing these situations alone. This includes empowering individuals and giving them the means to get involved, and continuing work on building their community and advocating for policy change.

Currently, the Union does not allow any landlords or property managers at their meetings in order to protect members from retaliation after revealing sensitive information, but they intend to include them into the discussion later on.

Their next meeting will be held Friday, March 16 from 6-9 p.m. at St. James’ Episcopal Church, located at 5 West Olive Street.