ONE DC Statement on Family Size Discrimination Litigation At Brookland Manor

Borum, et al, v. Brentwood Village, LLC, et al
Family Size Discrimination Litigation Regarding Brookland Manor

By: Dominic T. Moulden, Resource Organizer
Organizing Neighborhood Equity DC

ONE DC is honored to be here today with residents of Brookland Manor, our community legal partners the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, the Washington Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, and legal counsel at Covington & Burling to announce the filing of litigation to challenge redevelopment plans for Brookland Manor that will discriminate against families.

As you have heard, the proposed redevelopment of Brookland Manor will eliminate and reduce family-sized housing for nearly 150 families. This redevelopment will eliminate significant affordable family sized housing in the Brentwood neighborhood and force ONE DC members and residents to move from the community in which they have long resided and which they call home. The exclusion of these families from Brookland Manor destroys their community and will disrupt their children’s education and the networks of services and supports that many residents rely on. Medical doctor Mindy Fullilove calls this health condition “root shock”—a phenomena which tears up primarily Black working class communities. ONE DC’s organizing is designed to resist these conditions, and our legal team supports us in these efforts.

The developers wrote to the tenants that large families must be excluded from the redeveloped property because large families are “not consistent with the creation of a vibrant new community.” They justified the negative impact that the elimination of large units would have on families by telling the Zoning Commission that “housing very large families in apartment complexes is significantly impactful upon the quality of life of households as well as their surrounding neighbors.” These statements reflect a hostility towards families that violates both federal and District of Columbia Fair Housing laws, which prohibit discrimination based on one’s familial status. ONE DC supports our legal team through our organizing to make “the developers obey the law.” If the residents and ONE DC members don’t make the developers obey the Fair Housing laws, they will violate them. We join the families of Brookland Manor who are bringing this lawsuit in demanding that the developer obey the Fair Housing laws!

Our members and our legal team support the choice of Brookland Manor residents to have a large family or a small one, to live with multiple generations or to live alone which is protected by law.

Many of the residents of Brookland Manor have lived in the neighborhood a long time. Some families have lived there for generations. They have built a community and invested their lives in the neighborhood. They should not be displaced and removed like the families at Valley Green in Southeast, Ellen Wilson on Capitol Hill, and Arthur Cappers in Southwest. Now, when amenities are returning to Brentwood, when the neighborhood is becoming a destination and families with means are moving in, longtime residents are being forced out. The design of the proposed redevelopment will not benefit the families who currently live in Brookland Manor, and instead appears to be for those who are new to DC and the Brentwood neighborhood.

ONE DC recognizes Black low-income DC residents’ right to housing and right to the city. Our People's Platform organizing work speaks to ONE DC's solidarity with working class people and we defend these rights through legal action to protect all DC citizens' right to fair, equitable, and large family housing units at Brookland Manor.

The residents and ONE DC members who filed this suit today and those that are here with us at this press conference bear witness to the possibility of DC being the Human Rights City it claims. ONE DC’s Shared Leadership Team during this 10th Anniversary year is calling DC’s political leaders and human rights organizers to task to join us in humility and solidarity with all of the original 535 families at Brookland Manor who claim their right to live and work in DC. We remain encouraged and envision a victory for all these families who put their lives on the line for a just and equitable DC. We honor all of you today in filing this lawsuit and claim loudly IT IS OUR DUTY TO WIN!

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Organizing for Neighborhood Equity in Shaw and the District