We're in a public health crisis and neighbors in Ridgewood, Queens and surrounding neighborhoods are coming together
The Ridgewood Mutual Aid Network (RMAN) was formed when organizers with the Ridgewood Tenants Union (RTU) put out a call for volunteers in the neighborhood to come together and support other neighbors in need during the COVID 19 pandemic. The Ridgewood Tenants Union is an anti-gentrification, independent and tenant-led housing rights group run by volunteers that was formed in 2014 to build tenant power and fight displacement in a neighborhood long controlled by homeowners and the politicians that advocate solely for them.
We put out that call on March 16. The weekend prior, four organizers with RTU met right before the city started to shut down to curb the spread of COVID 19. We already knew that the local government would not provide our community with the resources it would need to ride out what we were about to experience. At monthly RTU tenant assemblies we start meetings by going over four main tenets:
- We want to hear about the issues you are going through as tenants
- We want to come up with a plan together to tackle those issues
- We want this to be a space were we are supported by one another
- We believe that in joining forces as tenants and with our allies we can create a neighborhood that is no longer controlled by the interest of developers and corporate landlords that only want to make a profit
Mutual aid has always been at the very foundation of our work and since March 16 the Ridgewood Mutual Aid Network has grown by over 300 members that have agreed to practice safety protocols while engaging in mutual aid work. Our original fundraising goal of $500 has been surpassed multiple times and thanks to countless supporters that believe in our work, we now have raised close to $14,000. In our first month, we have supported 60 families and individuals with access to food by providing small cash grants or contactless grocery drop offs. This support has helped feed 150 individuals with healthy food and staples that will last them and their families for several weeks. Currently, we are supporting 13 families with regular weekly or bi-weekly access to groceries.
We are raising funds!
On top of access to food, we have provided 11 individuals and families with urgent small cash grants, provided individuals with medicine and other items they needed, connected over 10 individuals with benefits assistance and legal service organizations, as well has provided information to tenants about their rights under COVID 19. Overall, we have reached a total of 200 people and our reach has been as far as Harlem, Bay Ridge, Cypress Hills, and the Bronx. During our first month, all of this work was made possible with the allocation of $6,268.89 from the total number of generous donations we have received. All of the funds donated to RMAN through our crowdfunding campaign go to providing mutual aid to our neighbors.
What is the Ridgewood Tenants Union (RTU) and mutual aid and what do these two things have to do with one another?
The Ridgewood Tenants Union is an all volunteer run and tenant-led anti-gentrification group that was formed in 2014. We don’t have an office, we don’t receive any funding, and we don’t have non-profit status. Please be aware that this means that your donation is not tax deductible. Mutual aid is about our own resiliency and about putting the focus on the power of the collective as a whole and how powerful we can be together. It is not charity. When we build up our collective power we are better positioned to fight back against developers pushing us out of our own neighborhood. Together, we can work on placing people over profit and make sure everyone has what they need.
Click here to see how we are using your donations and how much we currently have in our reserve.
Thank you for giving so generously.
In Solidarity - Ridgewood Mutual Aid Network