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Geoff Griffis Attempts to Usurp TOPA at Congress Heights

Two days after Christmas, on December 27, 2017, real estate developer and slumlord Geoff Griffis cut a back door deal with long-time partner and fellow slumlord Sanford Capital in an attempt to acquire their properties at Congress Heights, via an irregular and possibly illegal land transfer. This attempted transfer is a desperate and last minute move by Griffis to circumvent two Court orders that would have otherwise resulted in either a negotiated agreement with Congress Heights tenants to prevent displacement and jump start the building of 200 units of affordable housing, or, a $2 million payment to the court to be used to repair the property as part of the ongoing receivership action.

This shameless attempted transfer of property from Sanford Capital to Geoff Griffis also took place during a 60-day period within which the court ordered Sanford Capital to negotiate exclusively with Congress Heights tenants via their chosen non-profit developer, NHT (National Housing Trust). In response to this latest maneuver by Geoff Griffis, Attorney General Karl Racine filed a contempt motion against Griffis in an effort to expose the underhanded nature of this latest displacement tactic.

To be clear: Griffis's intent is to stop money from being paid to the court by Sanford Capital (his partner), thus preventing desperately needed repairs that would protect the health and wellbeing of Congress Heights tenants. Moreover, the move is designed to prevent tenants from being able to exercise their rights under the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA), thus depriving them the opportunity to take control of the redevelopment process for themselves.

This usurping of tenant rights in the midst of an affordable housing crisis prevents tenants from doing exactly what TOPA was designed for, namely, giving the tenants a legal tool to prevent their own displacement, and also, to preserve and expand affordable housing in their own community.

Geoff Griffis is willing to subject Congress Heights tenants to continued unsafe, unhealthy conditions in order to push forward a luxury development plan at the expense of community interests. However, Congress Heights tenants are in the midst of fighting back. Their legal team, including Arnold & Porter and the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, is actively working to dispute Griffis's attempts to circumvent TOPA and the receivership.

Justice First and ONE DC are gearing up for mass mobilization in support of affordable housing and against displacement at Congress Heights. Tenants have worked for four years in order to control the land in their community. This is a line in the sand and a battle that cannot be lost.

What can you do?

Click to hear directly from Congress Heights tenant association president Ruth Barnwell about Geoff Griffis's role at Congress Heights and what you can do to help fight back.


March Against Slumlord Geoff Griffis

Saturday, February 10th

12 Noon

Gather at Cleveland Park Metro Station


Please contact Yasmina at ymrabet@onedconline.org or 202.441.5172 if you would like to be part of the volunteer team organizing this action.


Yasmina Mrabet, Housing Organizer


Ward 5 ANCs Issue Resolution Against Mid-City Displacement Plan

ANC 5B has passed a resolution in opposition to Mid-City Financial's luxury redevelopment plan at Brookland Manor. The resolution expresses strong support for the reasonable and viable demands of the Brookland Manor Residents Association, including the Preservation of the 535 units of affordable housing that currently exist on site at the current bedroom sizes and current subsidy levels. This support comes in the wake of continued harassment and intimidation by armed, private security forces at Brookland Manor.

We thank ANC5B commissioners Gayle Hall Carley, Ursula Higgins, Henri Makembe, Rayseen Woodland, and John J. Feely Jr. for their public solidarity with residents at Brookland Manor and their support for development without displacement in Ward 5. The Brookland Manor Residents Association expresses its gratitude to Gayle Hall Carley for taking a leading role in support of equitable development at Brookland Manor. Click here for a PDF version of the letter from ANC 5B.

The Brookland Manor Residents Association is continuing its work to issue requests for resolutions and letters of support from remaining Ward 5 ANCs and other community organizations in the interest of preserving affordable and family housing in Ward 5.

To date, Ward 5 council member Kenyan McDuffie has failed to support the Brookland Manor Residents Association, as outlined in this 7-minute video, and instead has publicly supported Mid-City Financial's redevelopment plan at Brookland Manor. Despite the ongoing affordable housing crisis, McDuffie has previously stated to Brookland Manor tenants that he does not support one-for-one replacement of affordable housing units in the community.

Ways to support the resident-led organizing campaign at Brookland Manor:

1. You can express your continued support for development without displacement at Brookland Manor by forwarding this update to Ward 5 council member Kenyan McDuffie at kmcduffie@dccouncil.us, or by calling him at 202-724-8028. We continue to call on Kenyan McDuffie to immediately end his support for Mid-City's predatory development plan, and to express public support for one-for-one replacement of affordable housing at existing subsidy levels and bedroom sizes at Brookland Manor

2. If you are a Ward 5 resident, contact your local ANCs and Civic Associations

3. Support ONE DC organizing by becoming a member or making a donation


ONE DC Monthly Voice - November 2017

The Monthly Voice

November 2017 - ONE DC Newsletter


"You, in the face of rubber bullets, concussion grenades, water cannons, you stand ready, not caring what it might do to you, because you are living up to your responsibility. You are a protector not only of water, but also the air and the soil.”
-Dennis Banks, co-founder of the American Indian Movement (AIM) 

Resources from the Community, For the Community

By Rebecca Harris, ONE DC member

Raising more than $5,000 for the Black Workers & Wellness Center, Showing Up for Racial Justice DC (SURJ) & ONE DC hosted a teach-in fundraiser on November 13th featuring Congress member Keith Ellison, the first Black Muslim individual ever elected to Congress.


This event represents only one piece of ONE DC’s larger campaign to raise $1.2 million to purchase a building to permanently house the Black Workers & Wellness Center (BWC) in Anacostia. The BWC is a member-led space that builds racial and economic justice through popular education, direct action, and worker-owned alternatives.

“It’s so critical to have this Black Workers Center, because so much of what we experience as oppression is economic,” Ellison said at the teach-in on November 13th. Though it’s critical that we respond to violent acts of racism, he continued, “if you don’t understand that the very root of that [violence] is trying to impose poverty on people, then you’ve missed so much of what racism is really all about.” Ellison noted that the Black-white wealth gap has roots in racist practices ranging from modern developers’ assault on urban Black communities to the Department of Agriculture’s displacement of Black landowning farmers over the course of more than a century.

Congress member Ellison also emphasized the importance of Black landownership, a priority for ONE DC. As Ellison noted, the decline of Black homeownership over the past few decades -- driven by exploitative mortgages and unchecked gentrification -- represents a tremendous blow to Black wealth overall. By buying a building in Anacostia to permanently house the BWC, ONE DC is at once laying a foundation for sustainable organizing and laying claim to a piece of what ONE DC organizer Dominic Moulden has called "the last frontier of working people" in this city.

The teach-in, which took place at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church on Capitol Hill, also featured Dominic Moulden, Resource Organizer for ONE DC; Delvone Michael, Senior Political Strategist for the Working Families Party; Yasmina Mrabet, People’s Platform Organizer for ONE DC, Eugene Puryear, Director of Field Operations for Justice First, and Delonte (Tae) Wilkins, Black Workers Center Organizer for ONE DC.

Keith Ellison’s full remarks can be watched online here.

Support our capital campaign for the Black Workers & Wellness Center today.

From DC to Jerusalem: Fighting Displacement & Colonization
By Sara Swetzoff, via Mondoweiss

Earlier this month, the Washington DC Palestine solidarity community welcomed Jerusalem activist Fayrouz Sharqawi, Advocacy Coordinator at the organization Grassroots Jerusalem. Sharqawi was on a two-week speaking tour including stops in Boston, New York, Chicago, Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles. In DC, she held events with the Palestine Center, the Middle East Institute, and local advocacy group Organizing Neighborhood Equity ONE DC. The event with ONE DC put Sharqawi in conversation with Brookland Manor tenant leader Cheryl Brunson and community organizer Yasmina Mrabet. This momentous meeting of hearts and minds highlighted the parallel resistance of women fighting to protect their homes and communities in both occupied East Jerusalem and gentrified Washington DC.

Graphics displayed on the event page compared the numbers. One image showed the statistical decline of African American residents in DC: the once-majority Black city has lost nearly a third of its African American population over the past four decades, due to aggressive redevelopment and a corresponding influx of wealthier, predominantly-white new residents. A second graphic shows that over 200,000 Israeli settlers have moved into East Jerusalem since 1967, while tens of thousands of Palestinian locals have been stripped of their residency status or blocked from registering their children as residents.

Andrew Kadi, moderator for the event and an organizer with event sponsor DC for Palestine, explained why local Palestinian activists were so determined to connect Fayrouz Sharqawi with those confronting displacement here in Washington: “Anyone who thinks of Jerusalem–and what the U.S.-funded Israeli military and government are doing there – should also be conscious of policies that produce similar results here in DC,” he said over email. “Palestinians in Jerusalem, similar to long-time black and brown residents of DC, are struggling against racist policing, being stripped of housing, underfunded services, and mass incarceration, all of which results in displacement….We could stop funding Israel’s actions in Jerusalem and use that money to address some of these issues locally.”

Click here to continue reading on Mondoweiss

HUD Budget Cuts May Have Major Repercussions on Public Housing in DC 
By Kelly Iradukunda, People's Platform & Admin Organizing Apprentice

In the midst of an affordable housing crisis here in the nation's capital, the Trump administration adds its own recipe to the disaster by cutting HUD's budget of $6.8 billion in funding for affordable housing, which will leave the department with an overall budget 14% smaller than last year's. It is estimated that Washington, D.C. will lose over $34 million annually as a result of the proposed HUD budget cuts.Screen_Shot_2017-11-14_at_12.10.35_PM.png

(Source: affordablehousingonline.com)

These HUD budget cuts will pose a particular threat to the District's already underfunded affordable housing system. According to the Washington City Paper, the D.C. Housing Authority (DCHA), which is responsible for providing affordable housing to low-and-moderate income D.C residents, already receives only 83 to 86% of what is required to maintain the city's properties. D.C. is already suffering from increased homelessness and this budget, amongst other things, eliminates the U.S Interagency Council on Homelessness.


Additionally, Trump's cuts will affect the Community Development Block Grant program (CDBG), which funds a variety of community development projects. Budget cuts to this program will affect planned capital improvements to public housing properties owned and operated by the local government. Under Trump's budget cuts, DHCD funding will decrease by over 70%. The proposed budget cuts will also affect Section 811, which benefits disabled people. With the proposed budget cuts, DCHA will receive far less funds than it currently receives and needs, putting roughly 20,000 D.C. public housing residents at risk of displacement.


This is where ONE DC's campaign, Universal Housing: A Public Option for the Social Good, comes in. In an era of constant threats on the poor, it is imperative we protect the health, safety, and welfare of working-class residents, especially people of color, by preserving, maintaining and expanding public housing.

It is absolutely illogical that there are thousands of homeless families in our nation's capital, while a new soccer stadium almost entirely funded by the District's money is being built. Clearly, we cannot depend on the Federal Government to ensure the safety and needs of the working-class. It is time to take control of our local money and redirect D.C resources towards its residents.

Homeless Reform Act Update

By Annie Hirschhorn, ONE DC member

At the D.C. City Council meeting on November 7, the Homeless Services Reform Act received initial approval from the council in an 11-2 vote. If the ‘yes’ vote stands when the council meets again on or around December 5, the bill will become law. Councilmembers David Grosso (At-Large) and Trayon White (Ward 8) were the two ‘no’ votes.

ONE DC, along with over 40 other D.C.-area advocacy groups, have signed a petition created by Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless (WLCH) opposing the HSRA. The bill, supported by Mayor Bowser, does not adequately or accurately address issues facing our city’s homeless, nor does it benefit the city financially, according to the WLCH and other concerned organizations.

A major provision causing opposition to the bill centers on the rapid re-housing model currently implemented in the District. A study conducted by WLCH showed that the rapid re-housing model, originally meant to assist a small subset of people, but currently being used as the main tool for moving D.C. families from shelters into homes, consistently leaves families struggling to make rent after the 12-month rapid re-housing timeline, wherein subsidies are provided, expires. In addition, conditions tend to be extremely poor in the rapid re-housing apartments offered and case managers tasked with supporting families are at times unreliable due to heavy caseloads. All of these factors send families directly back into the cycle of homelessness they are trying to escape, all while over $30 million is being spent on this rapid re-housing “solution.”

  • We believe if organizations and constituents continue to voice opposition, our city council members will reconsider their vote on the HSRA bill at the next meeting on or around December 5. Please click here to contact your councilmember and encourage a ‘no’ vote.
  • If you represent an organization interested in adding your name to the WLCH petition, please contact Amber Harding at amber@legalclinic.org.
  • Lastly, you can spread the word on your social media networks by sharing this information and using the hashtag #VoteNoHSRABill!

On My Mind/In My Heart: The Voices of Women in Public Housing

Join ONE DC & Empower DC for a powerful, free performance that invites you into the lives of six women as they share stories from their personal lives & experiences as public housing residents in the midst of gentrification in DC. The post-show talk back will feature residents of Congress Heights who are fighting to resist displacement & preserve affordable housing.


Doors for this event open at 6:30 PM. Space is limited. Click here to RSVP

Celebrate 2017 with ONE DC!

Join ONE DC in celebrating the heart and soul of our organization...YOU! Our end-of-year "People's Party" is dedicated to highlighting all the wins, accomplishments, and work that members, donors, supporters, and volunteers accomplished this year in the fight for equity. All ages are welcome. There will be musical performances, free food, speakers, and a special awards ceremony. Long-time members, new supporters, and everyone in between are welcome!


Childcare will be provided. Please let us know if you need transportation.

Click here to RSVP

Upcoming Events 

DC Fair Elections Community Meeting
Wednesday, November 29 - 6:00 - 8:00 PM
Anacostia Public Library, Glover Community Room - 1800 Good Hope Rd SE 
 Join ONE DC & DC Fair Elections with co-sponsors Ward 8 Democrats, Empower DC, Justice First, DC Women in Politics, & DC for Democracy. Featuring Councilmember Robert C. White Jr, Trayon White Sr, Markus Batchelor, Reverend George Gilbert Jr, Eugene Puryear, Anita Shelton, & Dexter Williams.
Click here to RSVP

The People's Metro Budget Forum
Thursday, November 30 - 7:00 - 8:30 PM

Festival Center, 1640 Columbia Rd NW
Save Our System, a coalition of riders, community organizations and small businesses will be holding a forum and meeting on the 2019 WMATA budget and how an alternative system can better address the needs of riders. Join us on November 30th for an evening of panels, workshops, and collaborative planning for pressuring WMATA in the new year.
Click here to RSVP

DC Labor Chorus' Evening of Favorite and Sacred Songs 
Saturday, December 2 - 7:30 PM
Tommy Douglas Conference Center Ballroom - 10000 New Hampshire Ave, Silver Spring, MD 20903 
Come celebrate the holidays at a free concert with the DC Labor Chorus as they perform their annual Evening of Favorite and Sacred Songs - with a social justice twist. Be prepared to sing along on some of the selections. Elise Bryant is the director and Steve Jones the main accompanist. There will be free parking available. Donations are gratefully accepted.

Food Justice Conference Planning Meeting
Sunday, December 10 - 1:30 - 3:30 PM
Dorothy Height Benning Road Public Library - 3935 Benning Road NE
Join the Central NorthEast Civic Association (CNECA)'s next combination Food Justice conference planning and Gray Panthers of Metropolitan Washington Membership (GPMW) meeting. Attendees are encouraged to read Food First's World Hunger 10 Myths Fact Sheet ahead of time. Contact Michele or Rick Tingling-Clemmons at 202.388.1111 for more info.

Apply to The Sanctuaries' Artist Activist Training Program

Are you an artist fighting for social justice? The Sanctuaries is training the next generation of artists interested in using the power of their craft to ignite social change through a 15-week collaborative program. This program is open to any DC, Maryland, and Virginia artists. That means singers, musicians, writers, dancers, actors, directors as well as painters, printmakers, ceramicists and sculptors between the ages of 18  and 40.


The Sanctuaries is a community of over 150 local artists working across various artistic mediums for the common goal of building lasting friendships, supporting each other’s personal growth, and collaborating on artistic projects that make a social impact, including working with ONE DC. Applications are due December 15.
For more information or to apply click here.

Become a Transportation Volunteer!

ONE DC is dedicated to making our events as accessible as possible, and making sure members have reliable transportation to and from events is a key part of that! We are looking for more volunteers with vehicles who are able to assist with transporting members and materials to and from events as their schedule allows.
Click here to volunteer

ONE Bit of Good News

In the midst of end-of-year fundraising appeals, we want to give a special thanks to our donors. In 2013, the ONE DC Resource Development committee began developing a long-term strategy to raise more through grassroots fundraising efforts -- individual & major donations, sustaining monthly donations, member dues, walking tours, & house parties. The growth over the last few years has been incredible -- whether it's $5 or $50,000, we give thanks to our generous supporters who sustain ONE DC.

2014 - 110 donors
2015 - 203 donors
2016 - 397 donors
2017 - 496 individual donors to-date!

Do you want to be a writer, editor, or designer for the ONE DC Monthly Voice? Email organizer@onedconline.org

Armed Security Forces Terrorize Brookland Manor Community

Developer Mid-City Financial's hired, armed security forces continue to escalate harassment and intimidation at Brookland Manor in Northeast Washington, DC, where Mid-City is attempting to install a luxury redevelopment plan at the expense of hundreds of working class black families and residents. Last month, on October 14, security guards toting guns disrupted public order when they forced their way into Ms. Ada Harris's apartment, without a warrant, and assaulted her guest Mr. Shawn Robinson, a member of the community who was born and raised at Brookland Manor.

Mr. Robinson was forced outside, handcuffed, and maced twice in the face, in front of MPD officers who were also on the scene. Security guards claimed that Mr. Robinson had a "barring notice" against him. Upon looking at his ID, it became clear that Mr. Robinson did not in fact have any barring notice against him. He was released without explanation from the offending officers.

Mr. Shawn Robinson, during the assault by armed security, in the presence of MPD officers at Brookland Manor.

Brookland Manor tenant whose unit was entered without notice or permission, Ms. Ada Harris, has repeatedly requested a report on the incident from property management. To-date, Ms. Harris has received no report explaining why her privacy was violated, nor has she received any formal, written apology. When interviewed about the incident, Ms. Harris said, "I'm asking them what's going on, me as being the tenant, and they didn't respond to me...I have a hole in my wall, and the lock was broken on my door."

Ms. Harris went on to say, "I feel like our rights have totally been violated. Totally. Because it makes it seem like we're in jail, we're in prison - like we have no rights. And it's sad, because some of the older people come out just to get some fresh air and stuff, and they're saying stuff to them...talking to us like we're animals, like we're dogs or something."

When I interviewed Mr. Robinson about the incident, he explained, "They came into the apartment without knocking, and and they maced me and had me in handcuffs...I couldn't understand what was their protocol...to come into somebody's house and just terrorize the house like they are a swat team."

I asked Mr. Robinson if he had received a formal apology or any kind of paperwork, and he responded, "I didn't get anything. And I asked for the paperwork that day. They acted like it never happened. And then two or three days after it, they put the same guy on the site that maced me. So I didn't understand that whole situation...it feels like a prison...To be humiliated like that, with handcuffs, with mace in my face for over half an hour...it feels like I was being raped, like who I am I?...It's not right for them to dictate who visits tenants...They're telling your own mother, 'get off the front, get off the gate'...that's why I'm coming to you, we need help, we need to explore this situation."

Mr. Shawn Robinson during an interview outside of the building at Brookland Manor, where he was assaulted by armed security.

As a ONE DC housing organizer working with tenants at Brookland Manor, I have been harassed on three different occasions by private security, including two days ago, on Tuesday, November 14th, when I was approached by three armed security guards while talking to tenants and their children on Saratoga avenue. We were told that we are not allowed to "congregate." I explained that we were well within our rights, in accordance with the tenants right to organize law, and additionally, we were not blocking passage on the sidewalk, and are therefore allowed to stand and talk outside.

One of the officers, who had a mask on her face, aggressively demanded to see my ID, and insisted that we were blocking passage, though it was clear to all who were present, that we were not in fact blocking passage. I refused to show my ID, and the masked officer had to be subdued by her fellow officers.

At the time, Michael Meers, executive at Mid-City Financial, happened to be walking in the neighborhood, and I openly brought to his attention the violation of the officers. The aggressive officer walked away, and the two remaining officers approached me and offered an apology and assurance that it would not happen again. Michael Meers stated, "not everyone that's here is peaceful," in an attempt to justify the security's conduct. Just a few minutes later, I witnessed the same three armed officers harassing a woman standing alone at the bus stop, because her arm was on the fence.

Additionally, security officers at Brookland Manor have an SUV that they are jumping out of to enforce the "community rules," which include not leaning on the fence. Their behavior has repeatedly been described by tenants as terrorizing and enforcing prison-like conditions on the community.

We thank our members and supporters for your ongoing solidarity with tenants at Brookland Manor, as they continue to be subjected to shocking assaults by the security arm that does the bidding of Mid-City Financial, relentlessly carrying out a displacement campaign. This displacement campaign is a continuation of what has been previously documented by the Washington Post, and by the Neighborhood Legal Services Program, in order to make way for Mid-City's planned luxury redevelopment.

We ask that the DC community continue to stand with residents and families at Brookland Manor who are fighting displacement, and fighting to live in peace in their community. You can express your continued support by forwarding this update to Ward 5 council member Kenyan McDuffie at kmcduffie@dccouncil.us, or by calling him at 202-724-8028 to demand that he immediately end his support for predatory developer Mid-City Financial, and express public support for the reasonable and viable demands of the Brookland Manor Residents Association:

  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.

Yasmina Mrabet
Housing Organizer, ONE DC


ONE DC Teach-In Ft. Congressman Keith Ellison


Join ONE DC for a teach-in with Congressman Keith Ellison and others at St. Mark's Episcopal Church on November 13th! Click here to RSVP on the Facebook page, and click here to get your tickets on Eventbrite.


Glyn Robbins at Busboys & Poets


Come to Busboys & Poets for the launch of Glyn Robbins' book "There's No Place: The American Housing Crisis and What It Means for the UK." There will be a discussion of his work about the housing crisis, and specifically on the crisis in DC and his chapter in the book on it. Click here to RSVP and for more information!


The Russian Revolution: 100 Year Commemoration


First Domestic Workers Workshop


Please come join us for the FIRST ever gathering of Domestic Workers in DC. If you are currently, or have ever been a domestic worker, please plan on attending this convening on Saturday October 28th from 11:30AM-3:30PM at St. Stephen's Church of the Incarnation. ONE DC is also looking for members who wish to volunteer with us on that day through tabling or a workshop about the BWC. Please email us at bwc@onedconline.org if you are interested.


ONE DC Monthly Voice - October 2017

The Monthly Voice

October 2017 - ONE DC Newsletter


"America is more our country than it is the whites -- we have enriched it with our blood and tears...Will they drive us from our property and homes, which we have earned with our blood?"
-David Walker's Appeal (1829)

Community Control of the Corner - A Capital Campaign for the Black Workers & Wellness Center

Now an appeal from ONE DC Resource Organizer Dominic Moulden:

We have arrived at a critical moment where mass displacement is taking place at Barry Farms, Congress Heights, and Brookland Manor. As some of you know, I grew up hanging out in east Baltimore. Even my first home in Perkins Public Housing is scheduled to be torn down - 668 units of really affordable housing. As I said during at a recent talk for the 50th commemoration of Tally's Corner, corners are sacred spaces! Your organization, ONE DC, is ready to take community control of the corner at MLK Ave SE and Howard Road. Why? To buy, renovate, and sustain a Black Workers and Wellness Center in Anacostia. There is no tomorrow. Now is the time to dig deep and give abundantly to ONE DC. This is my appeal to you today. We will celebrate ONE DC taking back land with the community. Thank you!


Click here to make a gift to ONE DC for the purchase of the Black Workers & Wellness Center

Here's what else you can do to transform our vision into reality.
  1. Attend ONE DC Teach-In Ft. Congressman Keith Ellison on Monday, November 13th at 6:30 PM. Click here for more info & to RSVP
  2. Plan a house party, happy hour, or community social to raise funds from your personal network. Email Peter at organizer@onedconline.org for more info.
  3. Create a fundraiser on Facebook for ONE DC.
  4. Check out the fundraising toolkit for more info about ONE DC's vision for the Black Workers & Wellness Center, the capital fundraising campaign, and how you can support this movement for a community-controlled space in Anacostia.

Contact Resource Organizer Dominic Moulden at dmoulden@onedconline.org or 202.232.2915 for more information.

DC Residents Are Fighting a Slumlord to Regain Control of Their Neighborhood

By Jason Fernandes, Talk Poverty

For the past four years, tenants in the five-building complex above the Congress Heights metro station have dealt with horrific conditions: cockroaches, rats, bedbugs, persistent flooding, roofs caving in. One resident told The Washington Post that “feces backed into her bathtub more than a dozen times – including once while bathing her 1-year-old.”

Ruth Barnwell, a 73-year-old resident and president of the Congress Heights tenants association, said that she told her landlord about raw sewage in the basement in July 2015, but they didn’t do anything about it until the following October. Barnwell has been living in Congress Heights for 34 years, but she says that they didn’t start having these issues until 2013.

“That’s when we found out the building was going to be turned into high-rises,” she says.

In 2013, two years after acquiring four of the five Congress Heights buildings, Sanford Capital and City Partners submitted a plan to the Zoning Commission to demolish the apartment complex and install 446,000 square feet of luxury offices and condos in its place. The tenants allege that Sanford—which has already racked up more than 200 housing code violations in its 19 apartment buildings across the city—has been intentionally letting the conditions degrade so that residents will be forced to move out to make way for the new development.

Robert Green, a 68-year-old resident who lives on a fixed income, says that the company has gone as far as soliciting damage. One day, as he was walking out of his apartment building, an electrician who was walking into the building stopped him. “You still live here?” The man asked. Green said yes.

“They paid me to go downstairs and mess up some wires,” he told Green. (Sanford Capital did not respond to requests for comment.)

If Sanford’s plan is to drive residents out of Congress Heights, it’s working: Since 2013, the number of occupied units of affordable housing has dropped from 49 to 13.

The Zoning Commission approved Sanford’s development plan in 2015, but the company can’t act on it yet. The plan requires control of all five of the Congress Heights buildings; Sanford currently owns four. In January, the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development repossessed the fifth and final piece of the Congress Heights puzzle: the vacant building at 3200 13th St SE. But the remaining residents, who would be forced to move, aren’t letting it go without a fight.

On September 6, the Congress Heights tenants association delivered a letter to Mayor Bowser’s office with a simple request: Instead of letting Sanford buy the vacant building in a public auction, let the current residents exercise their Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) rights to have their chosen nonprofit developer build 200 units of affordable housing on the land.

Click here to continue reading on talkpoverty.org


Upcoming Events 

"A Right to the City": Reflections on the History and Legacy of Neighborhood Organizing
Saturday, November 4th - 1:30 PM - 3:00 PM
New York Avenue Presbyterian Church - 1313 New York Avenue NW
The Smithsonian's Anacostia Community Museum will be marking its 50th anniversary with the forthcoming “A Right to the City” exhibition that builds on the institution's decades-long tradition of community documentation to explore the history of neighborhood organizing in Washington, DC. With a focus on a diverse range of neighborhoods across the city, the exhibition tells the story of how ordinary Washingtonians have helped shape and reshape their neighborhoods in extraordinary ways. This panel brings the curatorial team into conversation with two key DC organizers to reflect on the rich history and legacy of the city’s organizing tradition. Featuring: Samir Meghelli, Ph.D., Curator, Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum; Hilary Malson, Research Assistant, Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum; Ph.D. Candidate in Urban Planning, UCLA; Marie Nahikian, Housing & Community Organizer; founder and first Executive Director of the Adams Morgan Organization (AMO); Dominic Moulden, Resource Organizer, ONE DC.

The Russian Revolution: 100 Years and Still Shaking the World
Sunday, November 5th - 2:00 - 5:00 PM
Thurgood Marshall Center - 1816 12th St NW
The Russian Revolution ‘shook the world’ in 1917. It was the first time a socialist revolution had taken and held power, putting the workers in power, seizing private property and society’s productive capacity. That revolution became the nemesis of imperialism, while it inspired national liberation movements around the world. As the Soviet Union emerged to be the second-largest economy, it became a valid counterweight to claims of capitalism’s superiority. The event will featured Gloria La Riva, Brian Becker, & Anthony Monteiro and will serve as the book launch for the Party for Socialism & Liberation's Storming the Gates: How the Russian Revolution Changed the World.
Click here to RSVP

Solar Focus Job Fair
Tuesday, November 7 - 9:00 AM - 1:00 PM
MDV-SEIA and GRID Alternatives Mid-Atlantic are hosting the second annual Solar Focus Job Fair on November 7th at the DC Downtown Hotel during the 2017 Solar Focus Conference. Connect face-to-face with employers from solar and energy-efficiency related companies and organizations who are actively seeking candidates for open positions.
Click here for more info

The Trans-Atlantic Housing Crisis Book Event

Thursday, November 9 - 6:30 PM - 8 PM 
Busboys and Poets Takoma - 235 Carroll St NW  
Join Busboys and Poets Books as they welcome author Glyn Robbins, a housing worker and campaigner from London, to discuss his new book There's No Place: The American Housing Crisis and What It Means for the UK. There's No Place tells the story of resistance and struggle at local level through the voices of those fighting to save their homes during the Atlantic housing crisis. Each chapter covers a different aspect of the trans-Atlantic housing crisis based on detailed field research and interviews in Boston, New York, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, New Orleans, Atlanta, and Washington, DC.
Click here to RSVP

Women’s Salon on Environmental Justice and Community Organizing
Monday, November 13 - 5:30 PM
We Act Radio - 1918 Martin Luther King Jr Ave SE
For Chesapeake Climate Action Network's next intersectional Environmental Justice Salon, join us for the first in a series of three trainings facilitated by the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless. The series will focus on unpacking the ways in which power is used to control and shape various aspects of society, often creating unwanted, detrimental outcomes in communities. By breaking power down and reviewing its sources, how it is expressed, and how it is used, participants will develop an understanding of how they can work with others in their community to regain control over community resources and dismantle the systems that harm them. Attendees will pull from personal experiences, current and past events, and the tools provided by the presenters to clearly break down each power dynamic and discuss them in the context of current organizing and advocacy efforts led by community members, struggles in which participants can stand in solidarity and upon which they can build their own engagement and advocacy efforts.
Click here to RSVP

Finally Got The News! Author Talk with Brad Duncan
Tuesday, November 14 - 6:30 - 8:00 PM
The Potter's House - 1658 Columbia Rd NW
Collector and author Brad Duncan will be joining us to talk about archiving and collecting radical history, as well presenting a wide sampling of original rare printed items from the 70s for guests to explore and engage with. Come learn about how radicals in the 1970s used printed media to address issues that are still with us today.
Click here to RSVP

Coalition Updates

Save Our System 

We know our public transit system can be better, fairer and more reliable. That is why Save Our System, a coalition powered by riders, community based organizations, grassroots, congregations, small businesses, workers, unions and others who have had enough with WMATA's neglect for their riding public, is fighting for: 

  1. Prioritizing of worker and rider safety
  2. Increased notice on metro maintenance   
  3. Extended system and hours of operation 
  4. $2 Flat fare and free transfers between bus and rail 

Interested in joining the campaign for a Metro that works for you? Come out to a general meeting on November 30 to learn more. Contact Claire at ccook@onedconline.org 202.232.2915 to help ONE DC stay involved with this coalition.

Put a Price On It!

In the face of recent megastorms and other extreme climate events, an historic effort to address carbon pollution in DC gained new momentum on Wednesday, October 25 as Councilmembers Robert White, David Grosso, & Charles Allen spoke in favor of the bill at the Wilson Building. Advocates for the proposed “Climate & Community Reinvestment Act of D.C.” say the campaign has new momentum heading into the fall and expect a bill to be introduced no later than December with the majority support of the Council.

Judith Howell, SEIU 32BJ member and security officer in D.C., stated: "Fossil fuel pollution and haphazard development affects the citizens in each and every ward of our city. It is time for those who profit from fossil fuels to pay for the damage to our environment. But we must also ensure the policy would not put the burden on working families. We urge the Council and the Mayor to pass a strong climate rebate bill quickly, for the health and prosperity of our working-class families."

Contact Claire at ccook@onedconline.org 202.232.2915 to help ONE DC stay involved with this coalition.

Stop Police Terror Project DC

After passing the DC Council unanimously in 2016, and being fully-funded in 2017, the NEAR Act is now in its next phase: implementation. Despite being fully-funded, most of the provisions in the NEAR Act have not been implemented. As such, the NEAR Act remains largely unfulfilled as promised in 2016. In order for the NEAR Act to reach its full potential, it is going to require us as DC residents to make sure our elected officials fully and faithfully implement all of the comprehensive approaches in the NEAR Act. To do so, we want to create a corps of “NEAR Act Ambassadors” to show up to DC Council hearings, community events, ANC meetings, and candidate fundraisers and campaign events. In doing so, we have an opportunity to hold DC Council to their word and to begin the process of protecting the most vulnerable neighborhoods in our city from further violence with a better approach.

The Stop Police Terror Project will be running a number of trainings in November for each Ward to provide interested individuals the skills and knowledge they need to be NEAR Act Ambassadors, to let our elected officials know that the NEAR Act is still alive in our minds as a priority for our city. Through these trainings, you will gain the knowledge and skills to mobilize your local neighborhoods/networks to show up to these events prepared to pressure our elected officials towards full implementation of the NEAR Act.

We encourage you to attend the event for your Ward if possible, as there will be some Ward-specific information covered. BUT, everyone is welcome at any of the trainings, so please come to the one that works best for you even if it isn't your home Ward. Click here to find out what ward you live in.

Share Your Vision of Liberation - Submit to MelaNation Today! 

MelaNation is an art magazine created by BYP100 that aims to be a creative space for Black folks in the DC metro area to explore what liberation could look like in our communities. Click here for past MelaNation issues,

The next issue of MelaNation is looking for all types of creative submissions (paintings, short stories, photography, comics, poems, ect.) from Black artists and writers in the DMV area. The theme of this issue is family history and experience. MelaNation welcomes all interpretations of the theme. Click here for more information and to submit!

ONE Bit of Good News - New Organizational Member!

The mission of the DC Peace and Economic Justice Program is to bring together people from throughout the DC area to work to build a community at peace where social and economic justice prevail. We are delighted to join forces with ONE DC because of their proven commitment to peace and economic justice in the District of Columbia.

Click here to have your community organization, student group, faith-based institution, union, or other group become an organizational member of ONE DC.

Do you want to be a writer, editor, or designer for the ONE DC Monthly Voice? Email organizer@onedconline.org

Historically Black DC Paper Publishes Article Supporting Displacement of Black Families

Historically Black DC paper, the Washington Informer, has published an article that supports a plan for gentrification, and the displacement of hundreds of Black families from Northeast Washington, DC.

The article is co-written by Thaddeus James and Kim Edwards, both of whom reside at Brookland Manor. James and Edwards are actively working with wealthy developer Mid-City Financial to support a redevelopment plan that will require the mass displacement of long-time, working class Black DC residents from our community in the name of profit. If you question the profit motive, look no further than this WAMU interview with daughter of Mid-City CEO Eugene Ford Jr, Maddie Ford, also Mid-City's director of legal affairs, who stated, “The smaller the unit size, the more people you can have there, the more money you can get per unit...The smaller your units are, the more profitable they are.”

In the article, Ward 5 council member Kenyan McDuffie is hailed as a supporter of the community, when in fact, he has demonstrated quite the opposite. McDuffie stands with developer Mid-City Financial, supporting their plan to profit from the displacement of his own constituents. In a recent mock people's trial, McDuffie was found guilty of crimes against our community, the evidence of which is documented in this 7-minute video presentation.

Mid-City's plan to move forward with the reduction of affordable housing units is sanctioned by city officials like McDuffie, and the DC Zoning Commission, in the midst of an affordable housing crisis and skyrocketing rents in the nation's capital.

To facilitate their plan, Mid-City has egregiously engaged in a brutal eviction campaign that is ongoing. Previously, the Washington Post, along with many other media outlets, have exposed Mid-City's ongoing actions. The Neighborhood Legal Services Program, in a letter submitted to the zoning commission, documented Mid-City's ongoing eviction campaign.

Currently, Mid-City is engaging in aggressive attempts to harass and intimidate residents of Brookland Manor. Shockingly, Mid-City is issuing notices of infraction as a basis for evicting tenants for sitting outside in our own community. One resident, Ms. Jennifer Sewell, faces ongoing harassment and intimidation by Mid-City for sitting outside. Here is a photo example from recent infraction she was issued, showing her "violation."

Mid-City is now using these infractions as grounds to attempt to evict Ms. Sewell from her home. We have assisted Ms. Sewell in securing an attorney to represent her in this matter.

Recently, Mid-City issued letters to us that restrict access to community spaces. We understand this move to be a part of their ongoing attempts to interfere with our right to organize. We ask the wider DC community to continue to stand with the families fighting Mid-City's predatory redevelopment plan, by increasing public exposure of, and pressure on, council member Kenyan McDuffie for his role in our suffering.

We, the tenants at Brookland Manor that are fighting to save affordable housing and family housing in our community, will continue to expose Mid-City's attempts to "divide and conquer" our community, and we will continue to fight the attempts by Mid-City to intimidate and harass us.

Minnie Elliott
President, Brookland Manor Residents Association