|ONE DC Completed a Historic Direct Action! Join ONE DC's Next Right to Housing Campaign!|
|Friday, 03 September 2010 10:18|
On Thursday, July 15th, ONE DC and the community celebrated the transition and closure of ONE DC’s action to liberate "Parcel 42." Due to the momentum and excitement surrounding this action, upon ONE DC's withdrawal, a collective was formed by DC residents on the site and they assumed responsibility for coordinating and sustaining the tent city for another two weeks. The collective hoped to continue to uphold the goals set forth by ONE DC’s historic action — and maintain a safe, community-friendly, non-violent direct action. And they too achieved this with much success. There were nightly workshops, political discussions, community outreach, and talent shows.
As of now, ONE DC understands that a few residents have taken up full-time residence on site. And that they understand that ONE DC’s direct involvement with and the national Take Back the Land's support of the tent city ended over a month ago.
Organizing Neighborhood Equity (ONE DC) liberated Parcel 42 on July 10, 2010 to protest what we believed to be a political refusal to develop NEW units of housing that is affordable for households, making less than $50,000. We felt that with the declining number of available Section 8 vouchers and the rising costs of living in DC — the missed opportunity of developing households that meets the current needs of long-time low-income residents at Parcel 42 was an issue that couldn’t be ignored.
After a successful liberation, ONE DC and its supporters endured the hot — at times, stormy — weather to publicize this human rights issue. From the onset, ONE DC intended to establish a short-term, symbolic takeover with the ultimate goal of publicizing the acute housing crisis.
From conversations had with political officials in our four-year long Parcel 42 campaign, we knew that a powerful act of civil disobedience on Parcel 42 would not ultimately win over the minds of politicians overnight — we only sought to influence the public debate about how affordable housing is defined and higlight the lack of funding dedicated to housing more low-income residents (evidenced by the declining subsidy attached to Parcel 42's development). While we may have just planned to influence the political debate, ONE DC achieved so much more.
ONE DC built an intentional and safe community: Children played on site; neighborhood residents frequently stopped by to talk, ask if they could help or donate; hundreds of DC residents stopped by to offer solidarity and to build community with other residents and ONE DC members.
Parcel 42 was a symbolic site. It was a site where long-time, low-income residents and allies converged to create an intentional space for community-building, wellness practices, and political action. During ONE DC’s involvement, ground rules were established for all tent city participants and supporters to adhere to and respect—to ensure that the success of the action was not imperiled due to the destructive practices of a few. We asked everyone to contribute to the general upkeep and safety of the site. And because of our focus and commitment to a broader human rights mission, ONE DC was able to sustain a peaceful, nonviolent direct action.
Now that ONE DC has transitioned responsibility of the project to community members, it is ONE DC’s hope that the residents continue to practice the legacy that has been set forth by its former organizers. We hope that the rules of maintaining a safe, clean, non-violent space are respected and upheld. We hope that residents there will join in the organizing efforts supported by community organizations—because, it is ONE DC’s opinion, that only organizing will guarantee us the justice we deserve as a people, not a symbolic or even long-term takeover of the site.
Institutional change will not happen if we allow our politicians to assume that we will idly sit by and not participate in politics or future organizing efforts.
ONE DC is not a direct service or advocacy organization, we do not seek to house a few while ignoring the many who are effectively displaced due to policies that refuse to address their economic and social need for quality, sustainable, and affordable housing. We organize long-time DC residents and supporters to fight with us for our human rights.
Although ONE DC is no longer directly coordinating the tent city, we hope that the current residents and supporters continue to build the movement for a more equitable DC. And continue to strategize ways that direct actions like this can be effective and sustainable. There are many ‘Parcel 42’s’ throughout the city. There have been countless sites where politicians have broken their promises. We must continue to organize and agitate and not just focus on Parcel 42. All in all, ONE DC learned tremendously from this action. We learned how severe the backlash could be against building housing that is truly affordable for low-income residents; we learned how much work it takes to sustain even a symbolic tent city; we learned that there is an intense desire and enormous amount of support from community residents to see it succeed—and to see it remain a peaceful demonstration with a continuing intentional in purpose.
The conclusion of ONE DC’s action on Parcel 42 ends our four-year campaign to ensure that housing developed on this lot is targeted for households making less than $50,000. We realized during our quest for equity on this site, that the definition of affordable housing being linked to DC Metropolitan’s Median Income was an institutional reason for why both the so-called ‘affordable’ housing and market-rate housing developed in DC are increasingly out of reach for long-time, low-income residents.
As a result of our Parcel 42 campaign, ONE DC has proceeded to develop a city-wide campaign that will seek to change DC’s definition of affordable housing and to increase the city funds dedicated to the development of it. We will remember Parcel 42 in our future organizing efforts but we will not be cemented in it. Through this action, we forced politicians to comment on the lack of truly affordable housing units in DC. Things are no longer ‘business as usual’—so our victory has been achieved.
It is our sincere hope that more people use tactics of direct action and civil disobedience to influence the public debate around equity issues and human rights in DC.
|Last Updated on Friday, 03 September 2010 10:46|