WHO: Organizing Neighborhood Equity (ONE DC), Barry Farms Study Circle, Empower DC, Our DC, Working Families, Fair Budget Coalition, DC Jobs with Justice, ROC-DC, DC residents, Mayoral Candidates Bowser, Evans, Lewis, Orange, Shallal, Wells, Majors, Gray
WHAT: Mayoral Forum
WHEN: Saturday, March 8, 2014 at 4:00 PM
WHERE: THEARC, 1901 Mississippi Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20020
(Washington, DC) — Native Washingtonian Sylvia Brown-Carson dedicated years of time and energy to her government job, only to be embroiled in a worker’s compensation battle due to her work-related injury. As a result, she was evicted from her home and is now living with and caring for her elderly mother in a small one-bedroom apartment. Due to the lack of affordable housing in the city, she has been unable to find a more suitable unit that is both reasonably priced and accessible to her mother, who is disabled. Sylvia, a ONE DC member, expressed her frustration with the situation: “the amount of units being built just doesn’t meet the need, and there are even fewer units available in my case,” she said, referring to her struggle to find an accessible unit. Though she has repeatedly sought housing that meets her family’s needs – a basic human right – she has not found such a place. Furthermore, she cannot put her name on the waitlist as it was closed in April of 2013 due to extremely high numbers. She continued: “It’s just saddening to see how politicians have neglected the affordable housing crisis to the point where it’s this bad, with over 70,000 families on the waiting list and more who can’t sign up now that [the list] is closed.” Like Sylvia, each of these tens of thousands of DC residents has a unique story, and each one has the right to quality, truly affordable housing. “Whoever the candidate is,” Sylvia said, “has got to vouch to clean up [the units] and house all the residents who need it.” We agree. It is time for long-time low-income DC residents of color to have their voices heard and their advice heeded. It is time for The People’s Platform.
Unlike other mayoral forums, ours is run by and for long-time DC residents of color who recognize that there are long-term consequences to candidates’ short-sighted decisions. The co-sponsoring organizations have a long history of organizing DC residents around truly affordable housing, income equity, and education reform using direct action, forcing politicians to not only talk the talk, but also to walk the walk. Instead of listening to the candidates repeat the same stale promises, this forum will feature the innovative voices and ideas of those who know the city best: its long-time residents of color. Through years of discussion and outreach, all contributing organizations and individuals have a strong working knowledge of residents’ needs and demands, and are ready to hold those in power accountable.
The forum will include an opportunity to learn exactly what those who are running for mayor know about the city. The audience is encouraged to participate actively in asking the candidates to think critically about their own platforms and how they can bring about deeper, structural change that promotes equity. Just as direct action has played a crucial role in our work in the past, we plan to utilize similar strategies to ensure that candidates are present and engaged during the forum, and true to their word moving forward.
Given the challenges facing DC and the possibilities for positive change, we challenge candidates to stand for:
Deeper Affordability in All New Units: Affordable housing means affordable to all. Given that current commitments to the construction of affordable housing meet only 2% of the need for those earning less than 30% of the AMI ($32,250/year), funding for these units must increase.
The Protection and Preservation of Public and Project-based Section 8 Housing: Public and project-based section 8 housing provide community, stability, and one of the only affordable housing options for DC residents. The government has a responsibility to debunk the negative myths around public and project-based section 8 housing, halt demolitions and ‘opt-outs’, and restore and develop more units.
A Minimum Wage That Is Truly a Living Wage: To afford a two-bedroom apartment, a family must earn $27 per hour: 3.3 times higher than the current minimum wage ($8.25), and still 2.3 times higher than the coming 2016 increase to $11.50. A minimum wage increase to at least $15 is necessary, including $15 per hour for tipped workers.
For interviews and media credentials, please contact:
ONE DC (formerly Manna CDC) was founded in 1997 to help organize long-time, low-to-no wage income DC residents to exercise their political strength to address structural injustices in their neighborhoods, including gentrification and inadequate employment opportunities. ONE DC’s campaigns include the right to land, housing, and jobs. For more information on ONE DC, please visit www.onedconline.org.
Barry Farm Study Circle organizes public housing residents to protect their human rights and challenge the systems of oppression that impede their physical and mental health and wellness. They organize and educate public housing residents to advocate for themselves while also collaboratively working with like-minded organizations and individuals to address the social injustices that impact our families and communities.
Empower DC, founded in 2003, is a citywide membership-based organization dedicated to effecting social change through a democratic, self-help empowerment approach to community organizing. They work to support low and moderate income District residents in raising their voices and building their collective political power.
Fair Budget Coalition advocates for budget and public policy initiatives that address poverty and human needs in the District of Columbia by leveraging the collective power of its member organizations, including working with social service providers to empower those directly affected by poverty to participate in the advocacy process.
Our DC is a not for profit organization working to connect people, communities and organizations to Bring Good Jobs to the District of Columbia. They are dedicated to ensuring that the voices of unemployed and under employed city residents are heard in local and national dialogs on jobs and job creation, and to supporting enforcement of living wage laws and first hiring rights for District residents.
D.C. Working Families, an affiliate of the national Working Families group, is a coalition of progressive labor unions and community-based organizations, which aims to combine efforts to bring about meaningful change in regards to employment justice in the District.
ROC-DC, founded in September 2009, is a local restaurant workers’ organization dedicated to improving working conditions in the restaurant industry. ROC works with its over 500 members and broader DC community to build, develop, and lead the worker center.
DC Jobs with Justice is a dynamic coalition of labor organizations, community groups, faith-based organizations, and student groups dedicated to protecting the rights of working people and supporting community struggles to build a more just society.
- “A Decade of Progress: Investing in Lives and Neighborhoods through the Housing Production Trust Fund,” a Report by the Coalition for Nonprofit Housing and Economic Development, 2012
- DCFPI Report: DC’s First Right Purchase Program Helps to Preserve Affordable Housing and is One of DC’s Key Anti-Displacement Tools, September 2013
- Housing Wage from the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s 2013 DC State Profile