After successfully demanding a meeting with Councilmember Muriel Bowser, the People’s Platform Alliance, including Mount Vernon Plaza residents, won a temporary reprieve from the management of Mount Vernon Plaza Apartments. Several residents received a thirty-day extension to the initial notice to pay an extra $600 a month or vacate the property.
In a letter dated October 21st, officials from the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) notified the owner of Mount Vernon Plaza Apartments to “cease and desist with any attempts to raise the rents on the rent restricted units without DHCD consent and in violation of affordability restrictions.” In response to this most recent development, Mount Vernon Plaza tenant, Quitel Andrews, had the following to say:
“It is clear the only way tenants are guaranteed any kind of protection is when we organize. Landlords will use any and every opportunity to take advantage of the increasingly expensive rental market even if that means pushing longtime D.C. residents out. It is imperative that city officials use every legal mechanism available to protect tenants. If we did not organize and demand Councilmember Bowser to step in, the owner would have gotten away with unethically and quite possibly illegally displacing residents.”
Despite the letter, property managers at Mount Vernon Plaza Apartments continue to employ intimidation tactics to force residents out. On Friday, one resident, Alem Gheremariam, received a notice to vacate his apartment before his lease had expired.
The situation at Mount Vernon Plaza Apartments demonstrates the importance of passing legislation that ensures permanent housing affordability in the District and ultimately a comprehensive strategy that addresses the housing needs of all D.C. residents.
The demonstration in Councilmember Muriel Bowser’s office is the first step in holding elected officials accountable. D.C. officials must be pushed to embrace a more inclusive housing plan for the city. Most importantly, the next mayor will play an integral role in creating a truly equitable D.C for all residents.
The People’s Platform Alliance will continue to organize until the economic, racial, and gender inequities affecting low-income people are eliminated.
Press Contact: Rosemary Ndubuizu, ONE DC organizer