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DHCD Negotiates Sweet Deal for Developers at the expense of Taxpayers and Low Income Tenants

On December 15th officials for the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) reached an agreement with Mount Vernon Plaza Associates L.L.P, which allows tenants in previously rent-restricted units to apply for a new program for “very low income” and “low-income” families. According to the agreement, the owner of Mount Vernon Plaza is not allowed to charge any more that 30% of the 50% area median income for the Washington, D.C. area for 63 set-aside units. Furthermore, tenants will be eligible to receive a refund of the “amount of rent collected that was in excess of the difference between the set-aside rent and the market rent.”

The agreement also stipulates that management for Mount Vernon Plaza Apartments must notify all the tenants in the previously rent-restricted units of the new program including individuals that have vacated the property. However, to this day, only ten tenants have received notices.

“It is outrageous that management expects us to wait to be notified of this program while we continue to pay the rent increase,” says Quitel Andrews, member of Mount Vernon Plaza Tenant Association. “In fact, we were threatened with legal action if we stopped paying the rent increase. Most of us could potentially be refunded for the money we have struggled to pay for the last year. Meanwhile city officials are using our story as a PR campaign, which does a complete disservice to us. We organized for the last year to get this point. For city officials to fail to hold the owner accountable feels like a slap in the face.”

“Most of us had to take a second job to be able to afford the 50% rent increase. Now they are telling us the rental housing preservation program is for very-low income and low-income families, says Danielle, a resident of Mount Vernon Plaza Apartments for the last 11 years. “I am worried that I will not qualify for the program.”

“It was a very difficult decision to leave Mount Vernon Plaza in the dead beat of winter with a child. The decision to end the program should have been given a year in advance. The increase would have taken so much away from me as a single mother. Why do developers get a break and not the tenants?”

City officials negotiated the land lease sale date as well as the remaining $3.35 million on a Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) loan in order to subsidize the new Rental Housing Preservation Program. Under the new agreement, the owner applies payments that would have been made to DHCD towards the subsidy. Upon the execution of the new promissory note, the sale of land will be considered complete and the remainder of the lease is nullified.

WHO: Mount Vernon Plaza Tenant Association

WHAT: New Rental Housing Preservation Program

WHEN: Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Press Contacts:

Marybeth Onyeukwu, ONE DC Organizer
(202) 590-9949

Quitel Andrews, Member of the Mount Vernon Plaza Tenant Association
(202) 415-2608

ABOUT ONE DC: ONE DC (formerly Manna CDC) was founded in 1997 in the midst of neighborhood change. From early on, ONE DC's approach to community development addressed structural causes of poverty and injustice, an orientation that stemmed from deep analysis of race, power, and the economic, political, and social forces at work in Shaw and the District. As a result, ONE DC’s organizing work centers on popular education, community organizing, and alternative economic development projects.



ONE DC Seeking Spring Organizing & Admin Interns

ONE DC is seeking creative and dynamic individuals with a genuine interest in getting on-the-ground experience with community organizing around economic & racial justice issues, as well as a strong desire to learn, grow, and contribute to social change and community-building campaigns.

We are currently seeking interns to support our on-going campaigns and administrative work.

Organizing Intern Responsibilities

  • Help recruit and develop relationships with ONE DC members by conducting outreach via phone banking, one-on-one visits, and neighborhood door-knocking throughout the District.
  • Help develop leadership capacity of ONE DC members
  • Research economic and racial justice issues and legislation related to the Black Workers Center, People's Platform, Right to Income, or Right to Housing campaigns.
  • Attend staff meetings and strategizing sessions
  • Assist with facilitation and planning of ONE DC organizational and campaign events and popular education workshops
  • Track organizing and outreach efforts through data entry into Nation Builder contact database.
  • Help develop and/or edit outreach materials such as flyers, email blasts, and social media post

Administrative Intern Responsibilities

  • Update ONE DC database (Nation Builder) to track membership, donations, and attendance at events.
  • Assist with communications through social media, email blasts, and website updates
    • Help edit email blasts and monthly e-newsletter
    • Edit & publish website, Facebook, Twitter posts
  • Attend ONE DC staff meetings and take notes or facilitate as needed
  • Assist with facilitation and planning of ONE DC organizational and campaign events and popular education workshops
  • Assist with outreach for organizing, meetings, and events
    • Phone banking
    • Outreach Days

To apply, please email organizer@onedconline.org with a resume and cover letter. Include how you heard about ONE DC and why you are interested in joining the organization.


Register for the 2015 Service to Justice Conference

Tired of the Revolving Door of Service? Want to see justice in DC? Register for the conference here.


This dynamic two-day conference will wrestle with some of the hard questions facing service providers, advocates and organizers working for justice in DC. How can we balance our work in solving daily crises faced by low income residents with addressing long-term structural solutions? What tools do our organizations need to put more power in the hands of our clients? How can we support justice work within our own organizations?

Limited childcare available upon request. Limited transportation vouchers available upon request.

Registration Fee: Asking conference attendees to contribute $10 for one day, or $15 for two days. No one turned away for lack of funds.

Through interactive workshops and discussions, this conference will help to keep us thinking and reaching toward revitalizing our work, our relationships and our chance of success.

Sponsored by: Fair Budget Coalition, Bread for the City, So Others Might Eat, Latin American Youth Center, N Street Village, We Are Family, Positive Force, Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, Maximize Good, DC Central Kitchen, Southeast Ministries, Campbell Center, Emmaus, COHHO, Miriam’s Kitchen.


Why All Opponents of Gentrification and Police Militarization Should Oppose the DC 2024 Olympic Bid

By Jules Boykoff and Dave Zirin, The Nation

When Muriel Bowser was sworn in last Friday as the new mayor of Washington, DC, she made clear in her inaugural address outlining her vision for the future of the city that a major goal of hers was “winning the Olympics for Washington, DC, in 2024.” This reveals a set of priorities that are deeply disturbing.

The Olympic Games, time and again according to a slew of academic research, have revealed themselves to be defined by debt, displacement and the militarization of public space alongside attendant spikes in police brutality.

In the Washington, DC, area, debt, displacement, the militarization of public space and police brutality are otherwise known as “a Wednesday.” But with the Olympics these processes are always accelerated and intensified, making this a proposal from Mayor Bowser that’ll careen the city toward a precarious future for its most vulnerable residents. The Olympic Games inevitably induce a state of exception where the normal rules of politics do not apply.

For a city already experiencing gentrification at gunpoint, with a conspicuously parked police van for every new bistro in town, the prospect of hosting the Olympics should be terrifying. As Daniel del Pielago who is an organizer with a leading, deeply rooted community organization called Empower DC said to us, “We know that hosting the Olympics is yet another tool to push out Black and low-income residents from DC. We continue to see our so called leaders prioritizing events and stadiums over the lives of the city’s most vulnerable residents.”

Washington, DC, sits on the United States Olympic Committee’s shortlist of candidates to host the 2024 Summer Games, along with Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Last month the cities’ bid committees convened in Redwood City, California where they pitched their shiniest presentations to the USOC. DC’s five-person contingent included high-powered banker Russ Ramsey and billionaire Wizards and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis—as well as Mayor-Elect Bowser, Olympic gold-medal-winning swimmer Katie Ledecky, and former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue.

The USOC, which is only allowed to put one city forward to the International Olympic Committee, will make its decision perhaps as early as this week. The IOC, in turn, will pick the host city for the 2024 Summer Games in 2017, giving the “winner” seven years to prepare. Along with Los Angeles, Washington, DC has emerged as a leading contender. Meanwhile in Boston and San Francisco, activists have spoken loudly and clearly that the USOC can take their Games and shove them. Activist action absolutely matters as the IOC always factors in local support when selecting the Olympic host city.

DC’s neoliberal privatization project, with lower-income black and brown residents pushed to impoverished suburban enclaves, has met with community resistance by organizations like Empower DC, One DC, and others. The Olympics would provide a pretext to roll over both community organizers and a new generation of activists speaking out against connected issues of displacement and police brutality, like a tank. Based upon what we’ve seen during the Brazilian World Cup and Olympic preparation in Rio, not to mention Ferguson, it might even be with an actual tank.

While Olympic boosters are claiming the Games will cost between $4 and $5 billion, this is about as realistic as someone running a two-minute mile. Every single Olympics since 1960 has gone over-budget, and at a whopping average rate of 179 percent—and that number doesn’t even factor in the greatest heist of them all, the $51 billion Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014.

So who is the DC2024 Games committee? The group’s chair is multi-millionaire investment banker Russ Ramsey with Wizards and Capitals billionaire owner Ted Leonsis acting as vice chair. They’ve already raised $5 million to push their bid. Ramsey and Leonsis are joined by a quirky hodgepodge of venture capitalists and local powerbrokers, including celebrity chef José Andrés, Washington Mystics President Sheila Johnson, and former DC Mayor, the person who ushered in the city’s age of gentrification, the famously bowtied Anthony Williams.

Williams recently wrote in The Washington Post that hosting the Games would give DC an “economic lift.” Contradicting a strong and growing body of economic research that finds the exact opposite, he argued, “Bringing the Olympic and Paralympic Games to Washington—literally hosting the world would boost the whole region but particularly some of the places in our city that need it the most.” Meanwhile, as Holy Cross economics professor Robert Baumann has asserted about mega-events like the Olympics, “There is no economic rationale to host one of these things.”

Yet this hasn’t stopped politicos from across the ideological spectrum from supporting DC’s five-ring escapade. The bipartisan bedfellows pushing for this project are on the face, bizarre. Linking arms, we have new DC Mayor Bowser, Tea Party darling Jason Chaffetz, the incoming chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which oversees DC affairs, as well as Newt Gingrich, Howard Dean, and Bob Dole. They appear in a short, slickly produced video along with liberal demigods John Lewis and Eleanor Holmes-Norton. The DC2024 committee not only puts the faces of two civil rights icons at the center of their PR push, but it also slakes people’s thirst to see Republicans and Democrats working together on anything. This messaging is a product of the combined efforts of President Obama’s re-election guru Jim Messina and Mitt Romney’s campaign manager Matt Rhoades who have combined forces—and funds—to push the bid.

It’s certainly understandable why people would want to see politicians working together on anything in this town. No doubt some of these folks see the Olympics as a way to show off the city to a global audience. But we should not be led astray by this idiosyncratic band of believers. The price to everyday people living, breathing, and being pushed out of the city would be horrific. Bowser’s remarks in making their pitch to the United States Olympic Committee should be particularly chilling. She said, “We’re used to putting on national security events; we can move the people; we have a lot of existing facilities and infrastructure. We put on a good case for D.C. being the American city.” In other words, we know how to carry out a crackdown.

We can thank Ted Leonsis for laying bare the logic that drives Games boosters. He said in 2011 that “Economic Success has somehow become the new boogie man…This is counter to the American Dream and is really turning off so many people that love American and basically carry our country on their back by paying taxes and by employing people and creating GDP.” This gets the Olympics argument perfectly. John Carlos, the 1968 Olympian once said to us that “They only hold the Olympics every four years because it takes four years to count the money.” In other words, the Olympics will surely bring in money, but for whom? In Leonsis’ mind, it’s money for him and there is nothing wrong with that because he thinks it’s his class of people that are “carrying the country, employing people and creating GDP.” In other words, what’s good for Ted Leonsis is what’s good for Washington, DC…even though he lives in an eight-million dollar home on the Potomac River in Maryland.

Leonsis has blended trickle-down economics with dime-store bloviating. Instead of making the positive case for the Games he has instead chosen to bluster: “This is about bringing the world to Washington and bringing Washington to the world. The idea of fostering unity could leave, for the whole of mankind, the greatest Olympics legacy ever. Only Washington could do this.”

As is always the case when the Olympics come to down, the foul stench of land grabbing pervades this project. A George Washington University professor recently stated about the area along the Anacostia River: “It’s very similar to the London setup…It’s a plot of land that’s been kind of wasteland, and people said, ‘We want to develop that because it’s on the water.’ Just like Sydney, where they developed that waterfront land, it’s there for the taking.”

This brazen land snatching is also symbolized by the proposed site of the Olympic Village, the place where the athletes stay during the Games. DC2024 has reportedly suggested building the Village in Hill East, an area to the south of RFK Stadium that is the current location of the DC General homeless shelter. The Washington Post wrote, “Housing built there for athletes could then help alleviate the city’s affordable housing shortage.” Yet similar promises that the Olympic Village would magically turn into high quality, low-income housing has been made in seemingly every Olympics in history and it never happens. One can practically imagine the officials of ancient Greece swearing that the Temple of Zeus would become quality multi-family dwellings after the last race. For the London 2012 Olympics, the Olympic Village was sold at a taxpayer loss to Qatar’s ruling Al Thani family’s realty company. “Affordable” homes in Olympic Park rent for $2,000 to $2,700 per month. And let’s not lose sight of the fact that DC2024 are saying nonchalantly that a homeless shelter will be destroyed for the Olympics.

Longtime DC movement leader Reverend Graylan Hagler got it exactly right when he told us, “The obsession that develops to accommodate the Games in local communities has always had a dramatic effect upon the poor. The poor are always displaced, and the homeless are removed from the city where the Olympics occur because the powers to be want to sanitize the venue so that those venues become artificial and deceptive places to enjoy the Games.” He pointed to Atlanta, the last US city to host the Summer Games back in 1996, where homeless people we’re scooped up and booted from the city in order “to create a superficial and untruthful story of Atlanta’s prosperity.” Reverend Hagler added, “We need jobs and affordable housing for poor and working class people in Washington DC, better schools and political leaders who advocate for and protect poor and working class people.”

Dominic Moulden, resource organizer at ONE DC, a grassroots community-building group, told us he was approached to sign on in support of the DC2024 Games, but emphatically declined. Moulden, who has organized in DC for nearly three decades, asked, “Why would any organization promoting racial and economic equity in DC support the Olympics which clearly creates lasting inequity and maintains the structures of social dislocation?” He vowed, “ONE DC will organize, protest, and raise our resident-led voices against the displacement and policing of long time DC residents and all residents if there are plans for the Olympics in DC.”

In November 2014, the Washington Post reported that DC2024 honchos “took members of the U.S. Olympic Committee on helicopter rides over the Mall and the Anacostia River to show off the city.” Nothing could be more appropriate in symbolizing this bid. From a helicopter, it’s a grand idea. From the street, it’s a cash grab. It’s using sports, civic pride, and people’s thirst to see something—anything—bipartisan come out of this town, into a smash-and-grab operation that will remake the city for the benefit of the people Leonsis believes “carry the country on their back.” This orgy of corporate welfare they propose reveals that it’s actually Leonsis, Ramsey, and their ilk who are being carried. If the Olympics come to DC, it will be schools, social services for the poor, and anyone affected by police violence who will suffer under that weight.



Support Community & Social Justice Space in Adams Morgan!

ONE DC is excited for a new partnership in 2015! The Potter's House (cafe, bookstore, & community space in Adams Morgan) will be reopening in February & will serve as a space for community learning and conversations around equitable development, as well as ONE DC campaign meetings & events!

UPDATE: The Potter's House Kickstarter project was successfully funded!

Read more about it here


Deconstructing Gentrification: Development Without Community

Join ONE DC this Sunday at Busboys & Poets (14th & V) for A.C.T.O.R. (A Continuing Talk on Race) presents: Deconstructing Gentrification: Development Without Community.


Location: 2021 14th St NW
Time: Sunday, January 4, 5 - 7PM

The first A.C.T.O.R. discussion of 2015 will focus on the topic of gentrification and its disproportionately negative impact on poorer communities and people of color. Join us in exploring the definition and causes of gentrification, as well as constructive actions to counteract the current models of urban development and displacement.


Jennifer Bryant - Organizer, ONE DC

Robert Samuels - Reporter, Washington Post

Patrick Madden - District Reporter, WAMU

Eugene Puryear - Activist, Author and Former City Council Candidate

Facilitated by:

Nafisa Isa - Program Innovations Specialist, Busboys and Poets

Bob Schlehuber - Freelance Peacebuilder


For more information, click here


Celebrating 2014, Building for 2015

Black lives matter, and must be appreciated. December is about appreciating all members of our community, and demanding that they are respected in their workplaces, homes, and in their city. We give thanks to all of our members, volunteers, donors, and partners who helped make 2014 an incredible year of growth and movement building.

Make your 2014 contribution to ONE DC today.





What does Black Freedom look like?

This was the opening question of the 2014 National Convening of Black Workers Centers, a gathering that brought together labor activists from around the country.  I, along with 3 other ONE DC members and organizers, had the opportunity to attend and kick-off ONE DC’s efforts to create a DC Black Workers Center.  As a young, 22-year old, who has just returned to my hometown of DC after graduating from college in Chicago, I have energy, but what I need is a vision.  Organizing with ONE DC, I’m reminded that I am part of a powerful and historic legacy.


This is what I learned from the convening of Black labor activists: what we’re seeing today – in Ferguson, in Staten Island, and here in DC – is part of a larger trend, and our response must incorporate that history in order to illuminate the larger trends.  ONE DC is offering a space to do that.  Through Freedom Schools, listening sessions, and political education workshops, we as ONE DC are educating ourselves and exchanging knowledge in order to craft an effective response to the issues we face.


Now, we need to continue building momentum by drawing parallels between what different local groups are doing across the country.  For example, ONE DC is emerging from the Marriott campaign, an effort to enforce the First Source Law in DC, which states that any development project receiving more than a given amount in public funds is required to hire 51% DC residents in their new hires. In Los Angeles, the L.A. Black Worker Center is pushing for similar accountability.  To strengthen the national movement, we need to celebrate the wins and recognize the struggles happening across the country.


This is particularly true now, when the nation’s attention is focused on police brutality targeting black lives. As we come together to voice outrage over this issue, we must recognize this is part of a larger systemic trend.  We must contextualize police brutality within the larger issue of disparate social power, exemplified by mass incarceration; inequitable public education; vast differences in health, by neighborhood; and disparities in earning potential.


And this response must be united nationally.  This was a predominant message coming out of the meeting: we need a national political agenda that is directed by the needs of Black people in America.  And note the emphasis on the political – we must engage in the political process.


I have too many family members and friends who are disillusioned with the electoral process, and rightly so.  However, recent events in Ferguson remind us about the importance of voting. For example, Ferguson, MO is 67% African-American.  In the 2012 general election in which President Obama was reelected, 76% of Ferguson came out to vote.  However, in the last mayoral election that resulted in the selection of Mayor James Knowles (the current and controversial mayor), only 16% of Ferguson showed up at the polls. And this mayor has influence – including appointing power - over the (majority white) police force and city council.


We often feel like the electoral system and all of these messy politics don’t concern us, but they can, and they should.  ONE DC understands this.  The People’s Platform is pushing for a resident-led political process, one that would effectively communicate our demands to elected officials and hold them accountable.


And so, my conclusion coming out of the Black Workers Center National Convening is this: the current momentum and growing people power must result in a national political agenda, one that is committed to quality jobs for Black workers, and ONE DC has a valuable role to play in that. 


Know Your Rights: Ban the Box


Do you have a criminal background that's keeping you from getting a job?  The Fair Criminal Record Screening Amendment Act of 2014 is a new law that prohibits most employers in DC from asking about your criminal background on job applications or in interviews. The DC Office of Human Rights (OHR) is charged with enforcing this new law.  In this workshop, OHR staff will review how the law works, how to file a complaint if you believe an employer violated the law, and what you can receive in damages if it is determined that an employer violated the law.

To request a reasonable accommodation or language interpretation, please call (202) 727-5343 or email teresa.rainey@dc.gov by Dec 24th.

RSVP & More Info Here



Take Action to Reunite Haitian Families as an Individual or Organization

One major effort of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration right now is the Reunite Haitian Families campaign. This initially involved calling for a parole program that would allow Haitians with family approved visas to come to the U.S. and stay with their families while their visas are being processed. This work has been spear headed locally by Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees. We were able to get the parole program, but it covers only 5,000 of the 110,000 Haitians with approved visas. 

ONE DC is calling on our members and partners to join us in endorsing the petition for a comprehensive parole program:

Benjamin Ndugga-Kabuye

New York City Organizer
Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI)