By Tonya Phillips

Political power.  The Right to Counsel Movement is an inspiring and continuing story of how the Detroit Right to Counsel Coalition and ordinary Detroiters activated our collective power and won one of the most significant rights in Detroit’s history, a right to legal counsel for low-income Detroiters facing eviction.

The first Declaration of Rights in our Michigan Constitution state, “All political power is inherent in the people. Government is instituted for their equal benefit, security and protection[1]. The Detroit Right to Counsel Ordinance is a win for all who believe in democracy and people-centered policies. It is a win for all who believe housing is a human right. It is an inspiration for transparent, inclusive, and systemic problem-solving. Our movement acknowledges the root of Detroit’s eviction crisis as a by-product of racialized and inequitable systems. Thus, we advocated for the Right to Counsel as a systemic solution- a change in the law.

Inspired by black and brown organizers who won the first Right to Counsel Ordinance in the nation in New York City, Detroiters set out to obtain its Right to Counsel ordinance in 2019. We shared a vision to acquire power, resulting in racial equity and justice, and where everyone in Detroit- a major city where the majority of residents are black, have stable, safe, affordable, and accessible homes. We were on a mission to help Detroiters gain community control of housing policies to ensure all Detroiters are treated with dignity, respect, and equitably in respect to their housing. The Right to Counsel is the foundational change for Detroit to embark on the path to becoming a housing-secure city for all.

We Won’t Go Back! ….

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