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  • Brookland Manor Residents Fight to Protect Family-Size Housing

  • Black Workers Center Launches Space in Anacostia

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ONE DC Week of Action!

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Zoning Decision Rally for Brookland Manor! Fight Displacement!

ONE DC tenant members and residents at Brookland Manor request your support on Monday, April 24, 2017 at a 5:00 PM rally followed by a public Zoning Commission meeting at 6:30 PM. Click here to RSVP

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The Zoning Commission is expected to publicly discuss and announce their decision as to whether or not to continue to allow Mid-City Financial to move forward with their plan to eliminate affordable housing in the midst of an affordable housing crisis, and to cut out desperately needed family sized units at Brookland Manor in Northeast Washington, D.C. Mid-City's plan is particularly egregious when one considers the fact that they are calling to cut family housing and affordable housing while simultaneously tripling density.

It is CRUCIAL that the public show up to demonstrate opposition to a plan that would displace families from the city, keep them warehoused in shelters, or forgotten in the streets. Working class Black communities are under attack across the city by wealthy developers, and the politicians who do their bidding. It is IMPERATIVE that the public hold the Zoning Commission accountable and stand in solidarity with the tenants of Brookland Manor who have led and continue to lead this struggle to preserve their right to the city.

The location is 441 4th St NW and the closest metro station is Judiciary Sq (red line).

RSVP on our website and please share and invite friends, family, and neighbors on Facebook.

Here are three other things you can do to support the movement for our human right to housing:

1. Sign up to phone bank for the upcoming rally by emailing Claire at ccook@onedconline.org
2. Support ONE DC's fundraising goals by becoming a sustaining donor

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Background on Brookland Manor

Currently, Brookland Manor houses 535 affordable units, including 3, 4 and 5 bedroom units that accommodate families. Mid-City’s redevelopment plan proposes to eliminate all 4 and 5 bedroom units, and most 3 bedroom units. It also proposes to reduce the overall number of affordable units from 535 to 373 while restricting 200 of those units to seniors only (aged 62 and older). Mid-City plans to simultaneously triple density by building over 1,750 units of luxury apartments at Brookland Manor.

Latest Updates on Brookland Manor Zoning Hearings

Mid City’s plan to redevelop Brookland Manor must be approved by the DC Zoning Commission. Zoning Commission approval occurs in multiple stages.
At the first stage zoning hearing on Brookland Manor back in 2016, representatives of Mid-City suggested that due to “natural attrition,” some tenants would leave Brookland Manor, and that their absence from the property would help to justify Mid-City’s plans to build luxury apartments in place of deeply affordable housing. Rather than “natural attrition,” what residents at Brookland Manor have been subjected to is a calculated and planned displacement campaign. Mid-City has 1) divided and evicted dozens of families; 2) erected fences that physically divide the community and hinder freedom of movement 3) hired armed security guards to patrol the property and serve tenants with notices of infraction for breaking “community rules,” which include transgressions such as having a plant in the hallway, standing on the grass, and standing outside.

However, Mid-City’s plan to intimidate and harass tenants has not worked. In fact, their heavy handed tactics have galvanized the both the tenants at Brookland Manor and the surrounding community.

At the most recent Zoning Commission hearing, which took place over two days (February 23, 2017 and March 16, 2017), Mid-City’s attorney attempted to use loopholes in order to avoid discussion on the key issues of their plan with respect to affordable housing and displacement, and instead attempted to focus the meeting on the color of the bricks and the kind of shrubs that would be planted as part of their planned redevelopment. The Tenants goal was to ensure that the Zoning Commission recognize that Mid-City’s redevelopment plan denies Brookland Manor residents their right to live in the redeveloped property and that Mid-City has engaged in an extensive campaign of planned displacement (A video of the hearing can be found HERE).

Throughout the night, resident stories of how private security targeted them by serving arbitrary infractions for leaning on fences or waiting for the bus with their children clearly troubled members of the Zoning Commission. Residents explained how when they began to organize to protect their community Mid-City’s private, armed security harassed and threatened local organizers with arrest. Organizers also recounted stories of being barred from attending meetings organized by Mid-City, despite the fact that the Residents Association requested their presence. It was clear to many in attendance that Mid-City’s actions demonstrate that they desire nothing more than sweep the Brookland Manor residents out of the community.

At the close of the hearing, the Chairman of the Zoning Commission put out a call for a “trust meeting” between Mid-City Financial and the Brookland Manor residents. Ms. Minnie Elliott, president of the Brookland Manor/Brentwood Village Residents Association reiterated that Brookland Manor residents have always been willing to work with Mid-City Financial, and that in fact, Mid-City Financial has refused to work with the community to accomplish their extremely reasonable and viable demands. To be clear, the tenants do not oppose the overall redevelopment project. However for the tenants, any such redevelopment must include:

  1. The Preservation of the 535 units of affordable housing that currently exist on site at the current bedroom sizes and current subsidy levels;
  2. The right of tenants to remain on the property during the process of redevelopment (redevelopment in phases to prevent any displacement) i.e.: build first;
  3. The right for tenants to access employment opportunities through the rebuilding of their own community, which they have a fundamental right to be a part of.

In conclusion when discussing Mid City’s current proposal, ONE DC organizer Delonte Wilkins summed their plan perfectly, “If you consider us human, then there’s no question. Displacement is not acceptable. This development has no legitimacy.”

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Celebrate Emancipation Day and Support ONE DC's 10th Anniversary Fundraising with a Special Performance of Pike St

Celebrate Emancipation Day and Support ONE DC's 10th Anniversary Fundraising with a Special Performance of Pike St. at the Woolly Mammoth Theater Company, 641 D St NW on Friday, April 14th.

Schedule

6:45 PM -- Pre-Show Reception with ONE DC Woolly Mammoth Rehearsal Hall. Light refreshments provided
8:00 PM -- Pike St. Performance
From the one-woman dynamo who brought the Obie Award-winning No Child… to Woolly in 2008 comes a rich slice of Puerto Rican immigrant life that “glows with humor” (New York Times). If you’ve ever seen Nilaja Sun’s virtuosic performance style, you’ll want to experience it again…and if you haven’t, you must not miss the chance to be transported to Pike St.

On the Lower East Side, a mother works hard to keep the electricity flowing for her daughter’s respirator while a hurricane looms nearby. As she prepares for disaster, a vibrant host of characters—a decorated war veteran, her ne’er-do-well father, her octogenarian downstairs neighbor—bring new meaning to the phrase “it takes a village.” (85 minutes)

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9:30 PM -- Community Conversation
Led by Woolly and ONE DC, join us for a post-show conversation with your fellow audience members about the vital questions raised by Pike St., the personal resonances, and larger societal implications.

Tickets

Purchase your $50 tickets below to support ONE DC's 10th Anniversary goal of raising over $1 million for the ONE DC Black Workers Center and to support #Another10Years of organizing for our human rights to housing, income, & wellness in DC.

A limited number of $25, $15, and $10 (pay-what-you-can) and free tickets are available. You can buy reduced tickets by clicking here. To request free tickets, please fill out the form here: www.onedconline.org/pikest_free or call 202-232-2915 or email organizer@onedconline.org for more details.

Sponsorships

  • Carry the Water - $100 - 1 Ticket to Pike St, ONE DC 10th Anniversary T-Shirt or Black Workers Center T-Shirt, Listing in program & on website
  • Fight for Justice - $500 - 4 tickets to Pike St, ONE DC 10th Anniversary T-Shirt and Black Workers Center T-Shirt, Listing in program & on website
  • Organize for Equity - $1,000 - 6 tickets to Pike St, ONE DC 10th Anniversary and Black Workers Center T-Shirt, copy of Collective Courage by Jessica Gordon Nembhard, Listing in program & on website
  • Path to Liberation - $5,000 - 10 tickets to Pike St, ONE DC 10th Anniversary and Black Workers Center T-Shirt, copy of Collective Courage by Jessica Gordon Nembhard, Listing in program & on website, Special Feature in upcoming ONE DC newsletter

Click here to become a sponsor

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Mid-City Financial Attempts to Hide Numbers on Brookland Manor

Mid-City Financial, the corporation responsible for pushing forth a redevelopment plan that has resulted in mass evictions and displacement of working class Black residents from the Brookland Manor community in Northeast DC, attempted to hide numbers from the DC Zoning Commission to cover up their plan to eliminate over 360 units of affordable family-accessible housing in the midst of a housing crisis in Washington, D.C. If the redevelopment goes through as planned, Mid-City will build over 1,750 units of mostly luxury apartments, reducing overall affordable units from 535 units currently on the property to a mere 373 units, while also restricting 200 out of the 373 units for seniors only, aged 62 and older. In addition to slashing affordability and restricting eligibility of existing residents to live in the affordable units, the redevelopment will eliminate all 4 and 5 bedroom family sized units, and most 3 bedroom units, rendering the property almost completely void of large families.

At the first part of the second stage zoning hearing on February 23, 2017 (second part to take place this Thursday, March 16, 2017), Mid-City Financial executives and attorneys refused to discuss the displacement of existing residents at Brookland Manor. Mid-City has repeatedly claimed that “qualified tenants” and tenants “in good standing” will be eligible to return to the property after the redevelopment. However, they refuse to define the criterion of a “qualified tenant”. Will Merrifield, Brookland Manor's/Brentwood Village Residents Association attorney, analyzes Mid-City’s numbers in his testimony, which you can read here. Watch his cross-examination of Mid-City, which starts at 1 hour 20 minutes and 52 seconds, and you will see how they attempt to hide the numbers by refusing to talk about them: http://view.earthchannel.com/PlayerController.aspx?PGD=dczoning&iID=4324.

Mid-City is attempting to mislead the DC Zoning Commission, Ward 5 residents and the wider public, and most egregiously, Brookland Manor tenants. In their feeble attempt to “prove” to the DC Zoning Commission that tenants “support” their plan to eliminate family housing, Mid-City submitted this letter to the zoning record. Ironically, the letter details the conditions of a tenant living in a one-bedroom with four children – a family that will be at imminent risk of displacement as a part of the new redevelopment. This is just one of many underhanded ways that Mid-City is attempting to sell a project that they cannot defend – a project that will push working class Black families into the streets and out of the city. While Mid-City’s attorneys discussed shrubs and the color of building bricks, they tried to use procedural loopholes to avoid a discussion on displacement. The good news is that Mid-City is so transparent in their cover up that their plan has backfired and shifted momentum to the side of tenants. We are in a position to win this fight and we need the whole community to stand behind us. It may not be quick, but with sustained community support, we can win the fight against developers that displace in Washington, D.C. Development without displacement is what Brookland Manor tenants demand.

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Meanwhile, Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, while tweeting about the need for family units, remains silent on Brookland Manor. It was only after repeated requests by his constituents at the property did he agree to a 30 minute meeting with tenants earlier last month. McDuffie has not reached out to tenants since then regarding the redevelopment, and to-date has in no way committed to help save affordable family housing at Brookland Manor. Last week, reports showed McDuffie introducing a bill to encourage the production of family units through the use of the Housing Production Trust Fund in the future. Not only do we have no idea if the bill will pass or be implemented, but it is also perplexing that McDuffie is willing to introduce bills but seemingly unwilling to take concrete action by standing with Brookland Manor families and signing onto their tenant resolutions. To reiterate, the tenant resolutions oppose Mid-City’s redevelopment plan that would eliminate large bedrooms, and hundreds of units of affordable housing for families in the midst of a city-wide housing crisis. If Councilman McDuffie is serious about protecting families, he should demonstrate it by supporting families in his own backyard at Brookland Manor. Again, McDuffie acknowledges that the city needs family units, so why isn’t he supporting Brookland Manor tenants who are fighting to preserve family units? Tell McDuffie to ACT – Stand with Brookland Manor, and support development WITHOUT displacement.

Here are ways you can help Brookland Manor tenants in the fight against violent displacement:

1. Show up to pack the hearing room this Thursday, March 16, 6:30pm, part two of the second stage of the Brookland Manor zoning hearing (441 4th St. NW Suite 200). RSVP here: http://www.onedconline.org/events.

2. Submit written testimony or sign up to give oral testimony at the zoning hearing this Thursday, March 16 in support of Brookland Manor tenant demands. Email Yasmina Mrabet at ymrabet@onedconline.org if you can support Brookland Manor tenants with a testimony.

3. Call or email Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie at 202-724-8028 or kmcduffie@dccouncil.us and ask him to stand with his constituents at Brookland Manor who are fighting to protect their homes and families. He can support them by opposing Mid-City’s redevelopment plan until or unless it preserves 535 units of affordable housing, at the same bedroom size and subsidy levels currently at the property. McDuffie can also help by signing onto the Brookland Manor tenant resolutions, and opposing any and all redevelopment plans that propose the elimination of family sized units and affordable housing.

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Say No to Displacement!

On February 23, ONE DC members stood with Brookland Manor residents in their struggle against displacement at the hands of Mid-City Financial and the District of Columbia. We were joined, in force, by SURJ-DC, IWW DC, Metro DC DSA, the Black Workers Center Chorus, Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, Housing Advocacy Team, GW Young Progressives Demanding Action, Black Lives Matter DC, API Resistance, DC Jobs with Justice, Fair Budget Coalition, DC for Reasonable Development, Americans for Transit, Georgetown Solidarity Committee, Justice First, DC Right to Housing Initiative, MLOV, the Washington Lawyers Committee on Civil Rights & Urban Affairs, UFCW Local 400, and many more partners and supporters. Simply put, our presence was undeniable. Before we could even begin, security mandated we move a paltry distance from where we had set up to the red brick sidewalk behind us (even though much of our comrades were already occupying it). Separated by the empty space of the courtyard nothing was more clear: The power of the people terrifies the capitalist class.

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  Pictured Brookland Manor residents Dorothy Davis & Serita El Amin

 

Black Workers Center Chorus members Luci Murphy, Ma Krstn, and Eric Sheptock opened the rally by leading the group in song. Brookland Manor residents Yvonne Johnson, Dorothy Davis, Neeka Sullivan, Cheryl Brunson, Valarie Scott, and Serita El-Amin shared stories of their vibrant community. They were joined by spoken word poet Nkechi Feaster and activist-organizers Linda Leaks, Eugene Puryear, and Yasmina Mrabet. "Brookland Manor is a place where families become families," Cheryl Brunson explained, "It's our home." Ms. Dorothy Davis reminisced about raising her children in Brookland Manor and how she now has the joy of helping raise her grandchildren there as well. Transforming a space in which one merely dwells into a community that one lives takes decades of support and compassion; a labor of love that goes beyond the pull of self-interest. Ms. Cheryl Brunson humbly recounted how, during a tumultuous time in her life, it was her neighbors in Brookland Manor who served as a vital support system for her and her family.

In addition, residents provided a deft critique of the repressive measures taken by Mid-City Financial in the struggle for Brookland Manor. For those unaware, Mid-City Financial has fenced off the courtyard, blocking an essential element in maintaining their communal life. "We can't even stand outside and watch our kids," Neeka Sullivan explained. Similarly, Mid-City Financial has hired new security guards whose only purpose is to harass residents and produce an endless proliferation of infractions. These tactics, as well as the overall struggle, are dramatically affecting the quality of life of the residents of Brookland Manor. Painfully, Yvonne Johnson observed that in her 20 years there she hasn’t come across this level of depression. Children are weighed down by the possibility that one day they may no longer have a home to come back to.

Despite these realities the residents of Brookland Manor are undeterred. "We haven't seen a gathering like this in a long time," Linda Leaks shouted, passionate yet focused, "We are not going to move and we are going to win." Indeed, the line for those who showed up to support the Brookland Manor residents nearly wrapped around the building and we easily filled the overflow room.

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The line to enter the hearing stretched down the block

Once inside, Mid-City Financial undertook what appeared to be a rather bizarre testimony. Over an hour long, they fixated on minute details concerning the types of shrubbery they wanted to plant and the hue and crispness of their brick selection. Mid-City Financial is just as comfortable prioritizing aesthetics over the concerns of their residents as they are putting their profits before the community. Here, we are reminded of Walter Benjamin's warning about the dangers inherent in introducing "aesthetics into political life" and the displacement it brings (See the epilogue in Benjamin's The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction). Yet, despite the absurd performance, the tactic was deliberate. The zoning commission proceeding only allows the cross examiner to question the Defendant based on the testimony given. Presumably, if the testimony is filled with vapid details and dead-ends the cross examiner will be barred from initiating a meaningful line of questioning.

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About Making the Just City

We're pleased to update members on our research grant through the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's "Culture of Health" initiative, one of 15 projects selected throughout the country. Created in collaboration with Mindy Fullilove, MD and Derek Hyra, PhD (The New School and American University, respectively), our work focuses on gentrification & displacement in two communities, and the community-level initiatives being implemented to improve wellness among long-time residents facing displacement. Dominic Moulden, Resource Organizer at ONE DC, is the third member of this team.

 

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Black Workers Center Launches in Southeast DC

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Click here to view more photos from the evening. Photo Credit: O. Michael Leslie

Community residents from Anacostia and across the District gathered last Friday, February 24th for an evening of music, arts, food, and programming to celebrate the launch of the ONE DC Black Workers Center (BWC), housed at the United Black Fund at 2500 Martin Luther King Jr Ave SE. The BWC is a worker-led space that builds racial and economic justice through popular education, direct action and worker-owned alternatives.

The program included a musical performance by members of the Black Workers Center Chorus, an interactive reading by storyteller, oral historian, and author Candace Wolf, and spoken word by Joseph Green of Split this Rock. Visual art was created and donated for the evening by Chris Bantum and Jeremy Darby. Rakhel's Live Cuisine provided gourmet vegan food and fresh juice.

The Black Workers Center has been in development since 2014, with regular monthly community meetings held at the United Black Fund building for the past two years. The idea for the project emerged out of community listening sessions following the Washington Marriott Marquis Hotel Jobs Training Program. Troubled by the continued failure of DC's workforce development system to address unemployment, DC workers and residents began to envision an alternative space to address the intersections of race and work in DC. In 2015, emerging Black Workers Center members traveled on a series of Coop Learning Journeys to Baltimore, New York, and Philadelphia to learn about incubating worker-owned cooperatives as an alternative to low-wage work. Along with ONE DC’s Cooperation DC project, the Black Workers Center will serve as both a political education and incubation space for worker cooperatives. The space will also serve as a creative hub, where BWC members can time bank volunteer hours in exchange for use of equipment and materials. BWC members are also developing an apprenticeship coding program.

Click here to sign up with the Black Workers Center

The Black Workers Center Chorus that performed at the launch practices every Tuesday evening at the BWC. To join the chorus and for more info, contact Luci Murphy at 202-234-8840.

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"Smart" Growthers Attack McMillan Park Court Victory

Ignore Key Stats Showing Massive Displacement

By Chris Otten, co-facilitator, DC for Reasonable Development

Recently, Greater Greater Washington and the DC Smart Growth Coalition have asked the public to sign on with corporate developers and non-profit property managers to together push for “more housing” to be built in DC with less regulations holding them back.

The smart growthers consistently point to a mythical demand to support their call for more housing – that 1,000 people are moving into the city every month. They believe the city should help corporate developers meet this demand by giving them the right to build bigger and bigger condos and apartment complexes. On its face, this not-so-smart "build-baby-build" philosophy is failed civic policy in that it omits a key piece of the equation: EXISTING DC RESIDENTS, FAMILIES, AND BUSINESSES!

First, let's analyze the "smart" growth premise for more housing at any cost. They claim 1,000 people are moving into the city every month, but never point to any evidence showing this. More importantly, where is the associated statistic on how many people are being pushed out on a monthly basis? We certainly know for a fact that the rate of homelessness has jumped significantly over the past several years. This is a sure sign of displacement at a time when housing is popping up all over the city.

Also, when waving around the '1,000 people' mantra, the so-called smart growth philosophy dispenses with any analysis of who these people are and why they are moving into the city. Using the 2010 US Census, we have a sense that those moving into DC are largely single white professionals making relatively significant salaries ($50,000+), and are working at corporate / government entities. These entities, in turn, won't take the time or aren't offered the incentives to train and hire from the existing DC population.

Further, the "smart" growth demand that building more housing in the District will reduce the prices of housing for all is such a fundamental fallacy as to be a complete joke. Developers have built tens of thousands of new housing units over the last fifteen years -- the same amount of time that shows 40,000+ black folks have been displaced from the city.

Smart growthers and some city planners have recently settled that a $1,200/month studio/one bedroom can be considered “affordable.” This is in part because the displacement machine determines DC's affordability based on an Area Median Income (AMI) that includes two of the wealthiest places in the nation, Montgomery County in Maryland and Fairfax County in Virginia. This means the 2016 AMI is $108,000!  This rising polarity in those who have and those who don't is a result of corporate profit desires in conjunction with lack of government regulation directing us towards the predictable Smart Growth vision for our city – a haven for the uber wealthy only.

In 2017, DC's real estate market is tops in the nation with property deals reaching record highs and rents averaging a scorching $1,500 a month for a studio/one bedroom. However, even when the true advocates score a victory, the "smart" growthers attack us. For example, David Alpert of Greater Greater Washington condemned the people's recent McMillan Court decision supporting those who are fighting displacement.

McMillan Park is 25 acres of open public space with a national landmarked waterworks marvel underground. Located between 1st and Michigan NW, and Channing and North Capital NW, the Mayor (Fenty, Gray, and Bowser) have for years tried to shove in 600+ luxury housing units there. At the rubber stamp zoning hearings, key smart growthers were there to champion how great the project is. In approving the McMillan giveaway, the Mayor, Council, and Zoning Commission again failed to account for the EXISTING RESIDENTS and NEIGHBORHOODS around the park.

Click here for more on the McMillan Park legal battle

The McMillan Court affirmed very clearly that when these large luxury projects with abundant housing are proposed to be constructed in already established DC communities, DC officials MUST consider the subsequent land value destabilization brought on with the resultant displacement pressures.

Click here for "McMillan Court Explained"

The McMillan Court victory is a huge step forward in the legal and planning realms of the District for the longtime, existing DC families and peoples and communities that we, the true activists and organizers, want to preserve and protect. It is Greater Greater Washington and the DC Smart Growth Coalition who have shown their true colors, denouncing our victories with a mission for displacement driven by their supporters, the corporate development class, and compromised non-profits.

Ultimately, the people will have to organize on the ground with the help of groups like ONE DC to prevail over defunct and ignorant housing policies and failed planning actions that disregard existing longtime DC residents, families, and businesses.

Please warn your networks not to fall for 'dumb' policies that will ultimately lend to the displacement of our friends, family, and communities. Testify at upcoming hearings, write letters, protest, sit-in, and demand the planners meaningfully take into account the future of existing District peeps and working families.

In solidarity,

Chris Otten, co-facilitator

DC for Reasonable Development

202.810.2768

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Video Highlights from Say No! to Displacement Rally

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Letter to Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie

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