Creating the Resident’s Bill of Rights

IMG_0038Since 2004, Chainbreaker was focused on Transit Justice because car-dependency keeps people poor. But the high cost of living in Santa Fe makes car-dependency hard to escape for many low-income people. Development efforts in our neighborhoods rarely include our voices — the voices of the people currently living there — leading to gentrification. As more and more of us get displaced, we move to sprawling areas that disproportionately lack resources, jobs or services. this leads to even more car-dependency and the cycle continues.

The root of the problem is the lack of affordable housing in Santa Fe. A national report released in 2013 showed that over half of all Santa Fe renters have unaffordable rents and that almost a third of all Santa Fe renters pay more than 50% of their income on housing. Even at a time when housing affordability is in a crisis everywhere in the country, these numbers are higher than the national average.

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In a study commissioned by the City of Santa Fe in 2012, home prices have risen by 65% and affordability is the most cited reason why renters are unable to own homes. At the same time, the median rent in Santa Fe increased by 25%, making it even harder for renters to get by. Because of this, only about 38% of people who work in Santa Fe can afford to live here.

These numbers are staggering, but are not surprising for those of us who feel the effects of this housing crisis every day. We watch our friends and family members move out of Santa Fe to more affordable cities. We struggle to pay rising rents. We face evictions and foreclosures through no fault of our own. We see the number of people living on the streets grow and many of us face homelessness ourselves. We wait on lists for years to get the chance to move into affordable housing.

But Santa Feans Couldn’t Wait Any Longer!


Chainbreaker members worked hard to create a community-led “Bill of Rights” that can help make lives better for the people who are bearing the brunt of the housing affordability crisis in Santa Fe. We rode buses and knocked on doors to build a real movement for housing justice in Santa Fe.

After over a year of organizing, gathering input from hundreds of community members, dozens of meetings and countless conversation, the Resident’s Bill of Rights was finally created.

Almost immediately, due to the tireless work of Chainbreaker members, another victory was claimed for our city. In July, 2014, a city resolution mirroring our Bill of Rights was later adopted unanimously by city council, paving the way for a new era for Housing Justice in Santa Fe!

Transit Riders for Public Transportation

After we successfully stopped sweeping service cuts and fare hikes to our bus system, we joined a national alliance of transportation justice organizations called Transit Riders for Public Transportation (TRPT).  TRPT is a coalition of grassroots organizations like Chainbreaker and was working on a coordinated campaign targeting the Federal Surface Transportation Bill that was being considered for renewal in Spring of 2012.  The goals of the campaign were to inject an environmental justice analysis into the federal surface transportation bill, strengthen civil rights protections for transit projects and increase funding for transit operations around the country.

Women’s Night and Spanish Night for BRC

Because society imposes different gender rolls for men and women, the Bicycle Resource Center can, unfortunately, be very male-dominated.  Many self-identifying women have told us that this can create an uninviting climate for them. A group of dedicated female mechanics responded by creating a workshop night by women and for women.

In response to a similar dynamic for monolingual Spanish speakers, a Spanish-only workshop night was also created.

We did this to be true to our organizing principles and to create environments where all of our members could have equal access to the BRC.

Unfortunately, due to a lack of resources, and  political climate forcing us to constantly engage in organizing campaigns to defend our bus system, we have since had to suspend these special workshop nights.

Once resources become available, we will re-open both of these special workshop nights.  We would also like to launch a special BRC workshop night for youth under 21.  If you have any interest in helping restart these programs, please contact us to make it happen!

Training Wheels

Training Wheels was a sub-project of the Bicycle Resource Center  that catered to the unique needs and learning styles of our young  members. The cost of purchase and maintenance of a bike for a child is simply out of reach for many low-income families. At the same time, young people tend to outgrow the size of their bikes very quickly. Through Training Wheels, youth ages 11 – 16 learned bicycle mechanics and young boys and girls ages 5 -10 received the refurbished bikes.  The young mechanics then shared their learned skills with their peers. Participants in the learning side of the program were guided through the process of repairing a kid bike as instructors taught general knowledge of tool usage, mechanics, fundamental work skills and basic principles of conservation, engineering and green technology. Hands-on experience making the repairs on the kid bikes helped to solidify the understanding of bicycle functionality, geometry and mechanics. After repairs to kid bikes were completed and a safety checks were performed, they were distributed to children ages 5 – 10.

Through this project we worked with dozens of youth in our community and taught several ongoing workshops in local public schools.

Whereas this program is no longer ongoing, each year at our annual Posolada holiday event we still give out bikes to families with kids who would otherwise be unable to afford a bike in the same manner.