The cost of housing has reached frightening levels in the nation's capital. At our July People's Platform, we emphasized the importance of knowing your tenant rights and how to exercise collective power to protect our communities. Three tenant leaders joined us and shared their ongoing fight and wins to preserve affordable housing where they live. The event was held at the ONE DC Black Workers Center, located in Anacostia, with the goal of identifying more tenant leaders living East of the River who want to organize in their building.
|ONE DC members talk about the first steps to forming a tenant association|
During the panel, we heard from three tenant-leaders who have been organizing at their property to protect their right to affordable, safe, and decent housing:
The Hodge on 7th
Ms. Deborah Brown is a tenant leader from the Hodge on 7th, a 55 and older building in Shaw. Residents at the Hodge are dealing with poor property management, safety issues, and property management turnover. They are organizing a tenant association and taking steps to have their demands met by the building owners.
Ms. Paulette Matthews has been living at Barry Farm for almost 22 years and has been fighting, along with other tenants and Empower DC, against the demolition of the public housing property, which would mean the displacement of hundreds of Black families. Barry Farms residents demand redevelopment without displacement and the preservation of truly affordable public housing that meets the needs for large families in Washington, D.C.
Mr. Robert Green is a resident at Congress Heights, where residents have been organizing against slum conditions for over five years. Recently, they have achieved several major victories! 1) Sanford Capital, the slumlord responsible for creating uninhabitable conditions at the property where Mr. Green lives, has been banned from doing business in the District for the next seven years by Attorney General Karl Racine's office after the CH tenants brought Sanford's shady business practices to light. 2) On Friday, July 13, D.C. Superior Court Judge Mott ordered CityPartners to pay $900,000 in repairs to rehabilitate the property. CityPartners (owned by Geoff Griffis) took control of the property from Sanford Capital in a potentially illegitimate transfer in December 2017, which the tenants and the city continue to fight in court. For more info about the ongoing struggle at Congress Heights, visit JusticeFirst.org.
All of the stories shared by Ms. Brown, Ms. Matthews, and Mr. Green had common themes: the critical need for tenants to organize themselves; the importance of knowing your tenant rights and how to exercise collective power; and that the struggle must go beyond our individual needs toward building tenant solidarity not only in our own building, but across properties, the city, and the world!
The People’s Platform is a movement of low-income and working class DC residents of color and people who share our values and vision. We seek to organize, educate, fight for and win truly affordable housing, sustaining work, and wellness for all in DC. Our monthly People's Platform general body is a space where we work towards our goals by prioritizing political education and leadership development in our work.
Our August People's Platform will commemorate Black August by exploring the intersection of mass incarceration and gentrification. We will meet on August 23 at 6:00 PM at the ONE DC Black Workers & Wellness Center, located at 2500 Martin Luther King Jr Ave SE.