Pages tagged "direct action"
On Thursday, September 22nd, ONE DC, Justice First, tenants of Congress Heights, Brookland Manor, Museum Square, and our members and supporters rallied in solidarity with renters in DC and nationwide for the Renters Day of Action. Across the country, in more than 50 cities, renters rose up in powerful demonstrations of the power of everyday people standing up for racial, economic & social justice. Renters are making four major demands:
In DC, residents living at a Congress Heights property are making another demand. Department of Housing and Community Development must take control of 3200 13th Street SE from the current owners to prevent known slum landlords and developers from gaining site control to move forward with their development plan in which they seek to displace Congress Heights tenants. Affected residents at Congress Heights and the larger neighborhood must be given priority as to determining alternative plans to create the affordable housing originally intended for the site in a manner that is beneficial to and determined by the community. Additionally, DHCD must take action to recuperate the missing $1 million from the owners of 3200, and commit to reinvesting it back into the development of 3200 to create much needed income-based affordable housing on the property as was originally intended.
By Clara Lincoln
Saturday, July 23 at 11am with the temperature pushing 100 degrees, over 40 people gathered around the Cleveland Park metro station to demand an end to the slumlord control of a Congress Heights property.
March Against Slumlords protest
Read more about the situation from Justice First here.
The protest began as people gathered at the Cleveland Park metro station, crowding into the shade of trees. Eugene Puryear of Justice First and Stop Police Terror Project DC took the mic and riled up the crowd, many of whom held signs about gentrification and slumlords. At least 5 people in the crowd were tenants either from Congress Heights or other buildings organizing to exercise their Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) rights in order to buy their building.
After Eugene's explanation of where we were going and why, we started our uphill, sticky march to Geoff Griffis' house. Griffis is the developer who partnered with Sanford Capital, a slumlord responsible for letting building conditions deteriorate to the point that there are roaches & rats, flooded basements, and trash sitting for months waiting to be picked up. Justice First retrieved the address through online research on Griffis' donations to Mayor Bowser's 2014 mayoral campaign -- a strategic move on Griffis' part. Griffis is also involved in the wharf development, which received $95 million worth of waterfront property from the city for only $1.00.
Conditions at Congress Heights building
Griffis and Sanford Capital are letting the building deteriorate to try to force the tenants to move out before they can exercise their right to buy the building. But the tenants will not back down. When we arrived at Griffis' house, three tenants from Congress Heights took the mic to talk about their experiences. They expressed how inspired they were that so many people showed up on such a hot day. One said, "We've been fighting for three years. But what we want Griffis to know is you've got rid of some, but you're not getting rid of us," referring to people who have chosen to move away and stop fighting. The President and VP of the tenant association both gave inspiring speeches as people cheered and clapped. We assumed the house was empty since we saw no signs of life, but their words were as much for the crowd as for Griffis' neighbors.
After about 20 minutes of chants and testimonies, the slumlord appeared. As Schyla Pondexter-Moore from Empower DC held the mic, Griffis stepped out of his house with a box of cold water bottles. Schyla, the tenants and the crowd all turned around, rushed to the fence, and booed. Schyla said into the mic that he was no better than a slave master for the way he's treated the tenants. One tenant yelled, "We don't want your water, we want a change of heart!" Griffis opened the gate, set the box on the ground, closed the gate, gave a curt wave, and walked back inside. Check out our twitter feed to see a video of the end of the encounter. Needless to say, no one drank the water. We had brought enough of our own.
We marched and chanted back down the hill towards Connecticut Avenue. We were so fired up that we walked straight into the intersection and blocked Connecticut Avenue for a few minutes, telling passersby who Griffis was and why we were marching. Police redirected traffic even though we had no permit to block the intersection-- a testament, in my opinion, to DC police's strategy of causing as little noise as possible during protests to keep media quiet.
The protest displayed layers of solidarity. Community members and organizers came out to support the Congress Heights tenants. Luchadorxs in other buildings trying to exercise their TOPA rights showed up for a similar fight across the river. Many individuals and organizations brought water and ice to pass out. And Griffis' neighbors even stopped to listen to what we had to say. It revitalized and inspired the tenants and organizers, educated a crowd and some Cleveland Park neighbors, and left people with a follow-up action step.
Griffis and Sanford Capital want access to even more land near the Congress Heights metro station on which to build luxury apartments. As soon as Justice First found out that the WMATA board was planning to vote Thursday (today!) on whether or not to give even more land to Sanford Capital, they did what they do best-- they organized. At the march this past Saturday, they handed out information sheets like the one below urging the crowds to contact Councilmember Jack Evans, urging him to table the vote. They spread the call to action on social media as well.
Then, Thursday morning, they learned they had won. Many ONE DC members who had emailed Evans got responses informing them of WMATA's decision. Here is the text from an email Evans sent to a ONE DC intern:
"Thank you very much for taking the time to share your thoughts on this important issue. Upon further review of the Congress Heights sale agreement item, I agree that postponing the vote is the most prudent option at this time. I am happy to report that the WMATA Board also agree and the item has been tabled until a later meeting."
Justice First, Congress Heights tenants, and all those who contacted Evans made this happen. Thank you to our members who called, emailed, & tweeted. This is a WIN that proves the power of collective organizing and solidarity.
But the fight isn't over. The vote will come before the board again. And the Congress Heights tenants are still living in slum conditions. Stay involved in the fight for equitable housing by following Justice First on Facebook. #DefendAffordableHousing #SaveCongressHeights
Walmart pushed its way into DC by offering good jobs for DC residents, even promising $13/hour wages. In December of last year, the first two stores opened up. Now, less than one year later, Walmart associates in DC are calling on the company to pay $15/hour and give consistent full-time hours.
ONE DC is calling on our members to stand with Walmart associates this Black Friday in saying "no more broken promises!" Walmart needs to provide living wage jobs with full-time hours, jobs that sustain families instead of keeping them mired in poverty. The Walton family, the controlling family of Walmart and owners of more wealth than 42% of American families, need to Respect DC!
What: Black Friday Protest and March on Walmart
When: Friday, November 28, 2014, 8:00 AM
Where: Meet at Columbus Circle in front of Union Station, 50 Massachusetts Avenue NE, Washington, DC 20001
Why: To demand Walmart pay all their workers $15/hour and give consistent full-time hours!
By Sarah Anne Hughes, DCist
About two dozen demonstrators attempted to enter Councilmember Muriel Bowser's office in the Wilson Building today to ask for legislation in support of their affordable housing plan, but were blocked as a group from entering.
"This is the people's house," one demonstrator with ONE DC told a guard blocking the door. "They can't do this. ... I'm a D.C. resident, and I pay taxes here." The guard explained that, while the building is open to the public, Council staff may restrict entrance to offices if the activities are expected to create a disruption.
Five people, some residents of Mount Vernon Plaza, others affiliated with ONE DC, were eventually allowed to enter the office to explain to Joy Holland and Robert Hawkins, Bowser's chief of staff and legislative director, respectively, their demand: A written comment from Bowser on the People's Platform, which includes a call to freeze rents at places like Mount Vernon Plaza, one apartment building where local and federal affordability requirements are soon set to expire. Residents of Mount Vernon Plaza say they were not told a Low Income Housing Tax Credit was set to expire at the end of 2013, increasing their rents by hundreds of dollars.
Today long-time D.C. residents are holding a demonstration inside the office of D.C. Councilmember Muriel Bowser demanding a clear plan to preserve and create affordable housing. The demonstration highlights a very important issue: the rapid evaporation of affordable housing in desirable neighborhoods in the District.
The People’s Platform Alliance including Mount Vernon Plaza residents will not leave Councilmember Bowser's office until the following demands are met.
- A meeting with Councilmember Muriel Bowser to discuss legislation that will protect residents from Mount Vernon Plaza Apartments from displacement.
- Immediate legislation that places a moratorium on rents being raised on tenants as a result of federal or local affordability covenants expiring
- A public hearing to discuss low-cost housing specifically the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) and strengthening rent control with the elimination of hardship petitions
As Chair of the Committee on Housing and Economic Development, Bowser has the unique opportunity to stem the tide of massive displacement by introducing legislation that will guarantee stronger protections for D.C. residents.
- Send an email to Councilmember Bowser demanding she introduces legislation for protect residents from Mount Vernon Plaza Apartments from displacement.
- Call Councilmember Muriel Bowser at (202) 724-8052
3. Send a tweet to Councilmember Bowser
@MurielBowser If you truly support affordable housing, address huge issue of expiring LIHTC buildings, start with Mt.VernonPlaza #DCision14
If Councilmember Bowser does not step in several residents will in fact be homeless next week. Please consider supporting the residents protesting in Councilmember Bowser's office by making a phone call today!
On Thursday evening, members of the People’s Platform Alliance will hold a peace vigil to call attention to the increasing loss of affordable housing in the District. The vigil will take place before the Mayoral Forum in front of Anacostia High School located at 1601 16th ST SE.
People’s Platform is a campaign aimed at holding D.C. Councilmembers accountable for the massive displacement of long-time, low-income D.C. residents. Residents throughout the city have crafted a comprehensive policy agenda with the aim of ensuring a more equitable D.C. that includes, but is not limited to the development of housing co-ops, permanent housing affordability, a moratorium on all public housing demolition and redevelopment.
“D.C. Councilmembers have created this problem of displacement.” says Phyllissa Bilal, long-time D.C. resident of Barry Farm. “Should residents be forced to leave because of poor city management? Why should the residents be removed from their homes and social networks they created to survive?” Barry Farm is public housing complex located in Southeast Washington D.C. slated for demolition and redevelopment, which could potentially result in the displacement of hundreds of families.
“I do not understand D.C. Councilmembers’ failure to respond to this crisis” Endegen Merekubu, resident of Mount Vernon Plaza Apartments. “D.C. government officials were fully aware the affordable housing programs were set to expire, but were not proactive in preventing this situation.” After living in their homes for close to twenty years, Mount Vernon Plaza residents received a two-month notice of a $600+ a month rent increase. Residents had two choices – pay the rent increase or vacate.
“Both situations at Barry Farm and Mount Vernon Plaza Apartments demonstrate the need to preserve of affordable housing, but to invest affordable housing programs for D.C. residents,” says Rosemary Ndubuizu, community organizer for ONE DC. “Neither Bowser or Catania has a clear plan on how to meet those goals.”
The People’s Platform Alliance will hold a peace vigil in remembrance of the thousands forced to leave the city and ultimately the loss of community in the District. Afterwards community members will move inside to Anacostia High School to demand mayoral candidates to take a more comprehensive approach to protecting affordable housing in the District.
Press contact: Rosemary Ndubuizu, ONE DC organizer
Join Us Tonight!
WHAT: People’s Platform Peace Vigil
WHERE: Ward 8 Mayoral Forum
Academies at Anacostia High School
1601 16th ST SE
WHEN: TONIGHT, Thursday, October 16th at 6:00 PM
For more information call or text 202.760.4875 or email firstname.lastname@example.org