About Us


Santa Barbara Tenants Union (SBTU) is a membership funded and led Union for and by tenants living in Santa Barbara (City and County). We formed in early 2020 with the aim of building the largest possible network of tenant solidarity into and throughout the pandemic, knowing that the crisis we as tenants were already facing was about to get much worse. Our approach has been more similar to a labor union (solidarity) than like a service provider nonprofit (charity). This means we aim not just to give out free services to tenants in need; we aim to recruit tenants into the Union and develop them into active tenant leaders who can learn to educate, empower and recruit more members. The idea is to grow a mass active membership and movement so that eventually, housing actually is a human right, not just a catchy phrase. JOIN US!

SBTU is independent from big foundations, wealthy donors, political parties, and government grants. This means that all our decisions and actions come directly from members. Such independence prevents us from being easily co-opted by people whose interests may not necessarily align with ours (see here for more on this phenomenon).

We build tenant power by providing regular tenants rights education through tenants rights and organizing workshops and weekly Tenant Help Desk  (Thursdays 6:00-7:00 pm); answering our tenant hotline and regular email inquiries; following organizing leads in multi-unit buildings; knocking doors and handing out flyers; tabling at events; attending rights and organizing trainings; helping tenants form tenant associations in their apartment buildings; and engaging in political advocacy and direct action.

SBTU is an affiliate of the Autonomous Tenants Union Network, which you can learn more about here.