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Griffis Promotes Imaginary Luxury Development at Congress Heights

Despite engaging in numerous and potentially illegal tactics to circumvent the TOPA rights of existing tenants at Congress Heights, and despite violating an existing court order, Geoff Griffis, through his company "City Partners LLC," is touting an imaginary development proposal to build luxury apartments over top the Congress Heights metro. Previously, Sanford Capital also promoted luxury redevelopment plans at Congress Heights, and have since shut down their website due to their ongoing legal issues as the most notorious slumlords in Washington, DC. Their slumlord activities have been widely reported, including by the City Paper and the Washington Post.

In order for Geoff Griffis's company, "City Partners LLC," to move forward with his luxury redevelopment that would price out and displace current residents at Congress Heights, he would need the following:

  1. For the existing tenants to leave the property without exercising their TOPA rights, which the Alabama Ave/13th Street Tenant Coalition have made clear they will not do, as evidenced by the fact that they have led and continue to lead this fight for the last five years.
  2. To have legal control over the properties, which is currently being challenged by the Attorney General's office, and under review by the tenants legal team, which includes Arnold & Porter and the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless.
  3. To have control over the long-vacant building at 3200 13th St SE, which is under the control of the District government and also tied up in litigation.
  4. To have control over the WMATA parcel of land, for which Griffis currently does not have.

Strangely, Griffis continues with what Ruth Barnwell, president of the Alabama Ave/13th Street Tenant Coalition recently referred to as an "obsession" with gaining control over this valuable land over top the Congress Heights metro, by forcing existing residents out. The tactics remain the same: forced displacement through slum conditions. As we previously reported, the recent and possibly illegal land transfer from slumlord Sanford Capital to Geoff Griffis not only circumvents tenant TOPA rights, but also forces tenants to continue living in slum conditions by interfering with a court-ordered receivership.

Tenants have been clear that despite Griffis's attempts to force them into agreeing to buyouts or forced relocations, that they will continue to fight to exercise their TOPA rights in order to move forward with their plan to work with premier non-profit developer NHT (National Housing Trust) to build 200 units of high quality, affordable housing in the midst of an affordable housing crisis in the nation's capital.

Earlier this afternoon, on the WPFW 89.3 FM show "Taking Action," hosted by Empower DC's Parisa Norouzi, featuring Congress Heights tenant Robert Green, we gave an overview and update of the ongoing tenant-led struggle at Congress Heights. Click here to listen.

Join us this Saturday, February 10th, as we take the fight for affordable housing directly to slumlord Geoff Griffis's doorstep, and stand in solidarity with the tenants of Congress Heights. RSVP here.

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To learn more about the tenant-led struggle at Congress Heights, including a full history, visit the Justice First website at www.justicefirst.org.

For the latest Congress Heights updates on the ONE DC website, check out www.onedconline.org/congress_heights.

Yasmina Mrabet, Housing Organizer

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Griffis Hires Seven Oaks Media Group Amid Displacement Deal at Congress Heights

Following a recent and possibly illegal land transfer from slumlord Sanford Capital to their business partner Geoff Griffis, Griffis hired Seven Oaks Media Group. As you can see from their website, linked here, Seven Oaks specializes in crisis communication and media placement. Clearly, Geoff Griffis is attempting to wage a campaign in the media to obscure the facts, which are these:

1. Geoff Griffis’s latest move has forced tenants to remain in slum conditions at Congress Heights properties by interfering with a court-appointed receivership, which facilitates Griffis's continued attempts to displace tenants.

2. Geoff Griffis’s latest move has interfered with a court order instructing Sanford Capital to negotiate exclusively with Congress Heights tenants by selling their properties to NHT (National Housing Trust), in order to prevent displacement and build 200 units of affordable housing.

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Click here to hear directly from Congress Heights tenant leader Robert Green, as he provides an overview of Griffis's dealings.

Stand in solidarity with Mr. Green and the Congress Heights Tenants Association:

MARCH AGAINST SLUMLORD GEOFF GRIFFIS

Saturday, February 10

12 Noon

Meet at Cleveland Park metro station

(RSVP)

To learn more about the tenant-led struggle at Congress Heights, including a full history, visit the Justice First website at www.justicefirst.org.

For the latest Congress Heights updates on the ONE DC website, check out www.onedconline.org/congress_heights.

 

Yasmina Mrabet, Housing Organizer

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ONE DC Monthly Voice - January 2018

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"I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept."
-Angela Y. Davis


Congress Heights Residents Plan March Against Slumlord

By Yasmina Mrabet, ONE DC Housing & People's Platform Organizer

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 well-being 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. Join us at noon on Saturday, February 10 as we march on the home of slumlord Geoff Griffis!

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Click here to RSVP


Black Workers & Wellness Center Capital Fundraising Campaign Enters Phase II

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With the Black Workers & Wellness Center Building purchased, ONE DC is now in the process of retaining a property management company to help with routine management of the property. We also will embark on a planning process for upgrade and renovation of the building. The pace of renovation will depend on ongoing fundraising, but in February an architect will be hired to start the planning work and receive direction from ONE DC members. Click here to donate!

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The Resource Committee is looking for long-time DC residents to join our committee in 2018. Come be a part of a team that is making sure the work of ONE DC and a more equitable DC is possible! Time commitments vary from 4-10 hours a month. No previous training or experience is necessary. If interested, please reply to this email or contact Dominic at dmoulden@onedconline.org or Nawal at nrajeh@onedconline.org


Save the Date - ONE DC Annual Membership Meeting

What is the people's vision for 2018 and beyond? What is ONE DC's financial standing? How did we win in 2017? How can you as a member get involved? Join us to find out at our Annual Membership Meeting on Saturday, March 24th.

Special Elections 2018!
There is an open seat on the ONE DC Shared Leadership Team (SLT). At the Annual Membership Meeting, eligible candidates will be nominated or self-nominated from the floor. We will then hold a vote by secret ballot. All are welcome to attend the Annual Meeting, but only members who are up to date on their annual dues will be eligible to vote. Below are the qualifications for being elected as a member to the Shared Leadership Team:

(1) Be a resident of the District of Columbia,
(2) Be at least 18 years of age,
(2) Be a ONE member for at least 6 months and current in the payment of membership dues,
(3) Complete ONE leadership and capacity training, and
(4) Demonstrate commitment to ONE’s values, work and mission as demonstrated through an interview process with the Leadership Committee.

There are also open seats on the Shared Leadership Team that can be appointed. We encourage anyone interested to contact SLT member Nicole Newman at nicole.a.newmn@gmail.com or call 202.232.2915 to learn more about the roles & responsibilities.

Click here to RSVP


Making the Just City
By Raheem Anthon

In December 2017, the Making The Just City team based in DC made a trip to conduct a learning exchange with the team in Orange, NJ. The meeting started off reaching agreement on the type of analysis we will use for the project in the following year. Situation analysis, put forward for discussion by Dr. Mindy Fullilove, examines complex interpersonal episodes in their embedding context in order to: 1) name the situation and 2) discern a set of strategies for action. The team decided this was a good way to delineate the episodes taking place in both cities.

The Making The Just City project started in early spring of 2017. The acting team members in DC, Serita El Amin and Raheem Anthon, were selected by IRL (Interdisciplinary Research Leadership) members Dominic Moulden and Derek Hyra, with input from the ONE DC Shared Leadership Team. The Making Just City project also has a New Jersey team: members Dr. Mindy Fullilove, Molly Fullilove, and Audrey Murdock.

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Gentrification across different cities shares many similarities such as displacement, rent increases, extreme poverty, and many more crippling effects. Yet, within each city that faces gentrification, there are unique episodes. Examining these unique experiences provides an opportunity for a deeper understanding of the effects. Since Orange is in the beginning stages of gentrification and DC in a late stage, applying situation analysis will give the team the ability to examine both areas and compare them to come up with solutions.

Developers have continued a type of “Jim Crow era” housing polices whereby poor Brown and Black folks are kicked out, replaced by an increasingly white population largely removed from the existing community. The DC team discussed this before arriving in Orange, referencing scenes from Baltimore. When looking at Baltimore, it becomes clear how displacement is not just made up of bad policy decisions, but is an attack on the Black and Brown (and even poor white) communities that have been occupying these spaces for years.

After the discussions, the Orange team guided the DC team through the Valley District. The area is working class (majority Black and Brown residents) with many industrial buildings vacant, which was the same situation in DC before gentrification. The team also learned some history of local organizing, such as Ironworks; a youth-led organization that focuses on culture, art, and community. After leaving the Valley, the team made a trip to the inner city of Orange, stopping at a local bakery whose owners expressed their dedication to staying connected to the changing community.

Once the tour was over, the team gathered for a community concert that celebrated the day Rosa Parks refused to give her seat to a white customer during the Jim Crow era, sparking protest that eventually evolved into the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The concert had many musical performances, from Oakwood Avenue Community School singing “Vivir Mi Vida” by Marc Anthony, to a solo performance by cellist Terrence Thornhill preforming “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” dedicated to his recently deceased grandmother.

On the final day of the trip, the MTJC team summed up how we want to apply “situation analysis” within our area of study. We drafted a chart of who were the key players within the communities (residents, politicians, developers, and business owners) to delineate a conceived observation of each area. In the coming year, MTJC will be working on a plan on when to conduct the interviews, meetings, and one-on-ones. The team is looking forward to making sure that this project will be a cornerstone of research dealing with community health as related to gentrification and displacement.

Click here to learn more about the Making the Just City project


Upcoming Events

Beyond the Capitalist Enterprise - The Movement for Worker Coops
Wednesday, January 31 - 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM
St. Stephen Church - 1525 Newton St NW
Hosted by Democracy at Work
Criticizing capitalism can be easy, especially after the 2008 Financial Crisis, but what many of us are looking for is the solution, the fix, and a way forward. Join Prof. Richard D. Wolff, Professor of Economics Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and author of many books including "Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism", to discuss how worker co-ops are a viable alternative to building a new and better economy for the future.
Click here to RSVP

Eyewitness Cuba -- The Revolution Continues!
Saturday, February 3 - 3:00 to 5:00 PM
Watha T. Daniel Library - 1630 7th St NW
Hosted by the Party for Socialism and Liberation
2016 Presidential candidate Gloria La Riva joins us in D.C. to report back after being invited to Cuba with a PSL delegation for a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Antonio Maceo Brigade. The brigade was formed to stand in solidarity with the Revolution, by Cuban youth living abroad because their parents had left the island. Hear eyewitness reports and see video and images from the delegation's trip, as well as an update on the Cuban economy, the remarkable hurricane recovery, recent biotechnology innovations and the need to end the U.S. blockade. A group discussion will follow the presentation.
Click here to RSVP

DC Jobs With Justice Community Meeting
Wednesday, February 7 - 5:30 PM
St Stephens Church - 1525 Newton St NW,
Join the JWJ community to learn about our 2018 campaigns and what you can do to fight for justice in Washington, DC.
Click here to RSVP


DC Grassroots Planning Coalition Meeting
Saturday, February 10 - 2:00 to 4:00 PM
Southwest Neighborhood Library - 900 Wesley Pl SW
Trump is cutting Fed programs and funds that help DC's working families -- like housing, food stamps, and other social uplift programs. This slashing of Federal funding elevates how Mayor Bowser and the DC City Council spend local money and utilize local public assets. In recent years we've seen tax gifts and public land given to developers to build luxury condos, hotels and stadiums all decided in a top-down way. But our local money and assets requires grassroots planning and that is where our local communities and Wards come in. Self-determination of our neighborhoods own futures is imperative no matter who is in office! We want to invite all of the people we work with on these zoning and planning issues into the room. We want to continue to build the Ward-level and neighborhood level teams we will need in 2018 to win key policies we want in the Comprehensive Plan to help shape the future of our communities.
Click here for more info

Chocolate City: A History of Race and Democracy in the Nation's Capital

Thursday, February 15 - 6:00 PM
UDC Student Center Ballroom - 4200 Connecticut Avenue NW
Authors, Chris Myers Asch and George Derek Musgrove will discuss the tumultuous, four-century story of race and democracy in our nation's capital. Book signing and cupcake reception to follow the presentation.
Click here to RSVP

2018 Transit Rider Organizing Bootcamp
March 8 & 9, 2018
Tommy Douglas Conference Center - 10000 New Hampshire Avenue, Silver Spring, MD
Hosted by Americans for Transit
An action packed 1.5 days of speakers, panels, and workshops. Connect with community and labor partners. Learn from transit rider organizers on the ground working to improve service, increase funding, and hold decision makers accountable to the riding public.
Click here to register


WMATA Continues Crackdown with Anti-rider Fare Initiative

By Save Our System Coalition

Amid an ongoing funding crisis - which in a recent report by Ray LaHood, stated the system needs at least $500 million additionally a year to sustain - WMATA has decided to end their negative balance program in an effort to regain “lost revenue.” WMATA has lost $25 million over a period of 17 years.

Previously, if you were taken metro bus and you had less than $2 on your smarttrip, the system would let you on and you could pay the next time you are at a metro station. On January 8th, WMATA will do away with this policy and riders with low or negative balances will have to add additional fare to their SmartTrip cards at fare boxes on the bus or exit fare machines on the metro. Because these methods of adding fare are cash and coin only, bus and station operators will be forced to provide additional assistance to riders during busy times such as rush hour. ultimately this will increase disputes over fares, which WMATA has claimed its working to reduce in its ongoing campaign to criminalize low income people - namely black and brown communities - who cannot afford high fares.

Ultimately this will increase disputes over fares, which WMATA has claimed its working to reduce in its ongoing campaign to criminalize low income people - namely black and brown communities - who cannot afford high fares.

It’s true - Metro needs funding. But securing this funding thru high fares, service cuts and other anti-rider initiatives that inevitably results in the criminalizing low income communities and targeting those who are already struggle to pay metro fares is the wrong way to achieve this.

These policies only serve to make Metro more inaccessible to those who need access to public transportation most. Undermining access to public transportation will only worsen the racial and economic divides that plague our city all the while distracting the public from the real fare evaders looting the system.

Click here to continue reading on SaveMetro.org


Community Learning Walking Tours Continue in  2018

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"Thank you so much for such a powerful learning experience in visiting ONE DC as part of our trip. We are back in San Francisico, and thinking about all the connections to the issues impacting DC natives and people of color just as we are wrestling with our own affordability and displacement crisis. We greatly appreciate your support for our students to have a localized DC learning experience, and for the great organizing resources by ONE DC which we hope they'll continue to think over this semester as we further explore community organizing and activism. I am sending along a pic from our visit, and please let us know if you are ever in SF!" -Esther Madriz Living Learning Community at University of San Francisco

ONE Bit of Good News

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ONE DC Shared Leadership Team member and native Washingtonian Dewayne Brown (pictured above, third from left) was shot in October and seriously wounded. His miraculous recovery was celebrated when he visited ONE DC with his family.

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

RSVP

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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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
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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

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ONE DC Teach-In Ft. Congressman Keith Ellison

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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.

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Glyn Robbins at Busboys & Poets

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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!

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The Russian Revolution: 100 Year Commemoration

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