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Patricia Penny

Born and raised in Washington, DC area, Pat Penny was educated in D.C. Public Schools. After high school, she attended Washington Business School and currently works as an Executive Assistant to the Director of Information Management IT for the Department of Defense. She has worked for over 20 years at the Department of Defense and is the mother of three wonderful daughters. She grew up in and around the U Street and Shaw neighborhood. She was displaced from the Shaw area because of poor property management and the neighborhood’s ever-increasing rents. After writing countless letters and meeting with management, there was still no improvement at the complex so she moved out of the neighborhood. In fact, she still visits her family and friends in Shaw regularly. Her life experiences were the principal reasons why she became an organizer with ONE DC’s Right to Housing and Land campaigns. She has witnessed first-hand how poor property management and gentrification pushes people out of their neighborhoods and homes. Her volunteer work began in 1999 with Manna CDC (currently ONE DC) and SEA (Shaw Education for Action). Back then, they did participatory action research, recording the vacant property in the Shaw area that could have been used for low-cost-housing for low-income residents. She was part of a group of concerned community members who created Manna CDC’s SEA Program. ONE DC was the first grassroots community group to develop a comprehensive list of vacant and abandoned properties in Shaw. She is still an active member of the Right to Housing campaign. Our organizing is focused on tenant organizing around the People’s Platform and also ensuring that housing built on two publicly owned parcels of land are truly affordable with households paying no more than 30% percent of their income on rent without the use of a Section 8 voucher. The Right to Housing campaign also includes educating tenants on their rights when owners of subsidized developments decided to ‘opt-out’ of project-based Section 8 affordability programs. She has a fiery passion for organizing to make sure safe, decent affordable housing is recognized as a human right in the Shaw community and DC, particularly for homeless and low-income families.