Pages tagged "displacement"
My name is Phyllissa Bilal and I am the cofounder of the Barry Farm Study Circle. Though I am the cofounder of BFSC I feel it necessary to present as a public housing resident in addition to cofounder of the Barry Farm Study Circle. Below I have included my accounts of causes to question the application to demolish the Barry Farm community due to violation of the basic human rights of residents in the community.
Soon after moving into the community in January of 2012 I found out the community was in the process of being redeveloped and my family would soon have to move. I thought how could management forget to share that with me prior to my move-in date? I sent an email to the project manager Reyna Alloro who called me and told me that I would not have to move for at least two years. I would soon receive email invitations to project and planning meetings in the resident council office. These meetings led me to question the process even further. During this time I was volunteering for the resident council to take the minutes for meetings on the property. Ultimately I was questionably excused from the resident council. I started the Barry Farm Study Circle after testifying at the DCHA Counsel to try to get a better understanding of how this resident council was operating and attending meetings where the human rights, wants, needs and questions of residents were being completely ignored. For example, at a meeting facilitated by Janice Burgess in 2012 I questioned her directing residents to move to offsite housing specifically Matthews Memorial Terrace and Sheridan Terrace. I asked her if residents who had already been relocated would write their rental checks to DCHA as they had done while living in the Barry Farm community. Her response was no. I then asked her if Matthews and Sheridan are tax credit properties and if residents had entered into a tax credit property lease. Her answer was yes. My answer to her was that means these residents are no longer housing authority residents therefore how can they be placed back on the housing authority list since it had closed. She agreed they would not be allowed back on the list. I attended two other meetings one of which was an oversight hearing facilitated by Muriel Bowser where Linda Miller the former Resident Council president gave heartbreaking testimony that she had been tricked into moving to offsite housing and now was being told she cannot return. She gave similar testimony in a meeting facilitated by the cofounder of the Barry Farm Study Circle and the Chairperson to the Citywide Advisory Board Karen Settles.
Additionally, in 2012 I sent a letter to Reyna Alloro who is the DMPD project manager for the Barry Farm property asking for better clarification about the redevelopment process which turned into an invitation to attend planning meetings in the resident council office. As stated before, those meetings left me with more questions and concerns. One evening in particular I received a call from Janice Burgess of the DC Housing Authority. She said she had been given my name by Nella Peterson the resident council president at the time and Ms. Burgess was going to give me a list of developers and I would have to go through them and condense the list down to seven. Then she said that the deadline would be the next morning at 8am. I declined her request and sent an email to Ms. Peterson explaining why I declined, stating that I felt it was not a fair process to the residents of the community. In short the Barry Farm Study Circle believes the continued path of demolishing public housing properties will only increase homelessness in DC. In fact, DCHA has not been transparent or inclusive in their process to redevelop our historical community and have used other harmful tactics against us, which I will not include at this time. As I wake up some mornings and look out my windows I still do not know why the houses of some of my neighbors have been boarded up and, more ominously, where are they now.
Today the rights of public housing residents have been violated all across the city. There has only been a 8-13% return rate of residents to their original and newly developed communities. And in the case of Temple Courts no return rate at all because the community is now a parking lot renting spaces for $8 a day.
More recently the Barry Farm Study Circle had received several complaints of a 30 day eviction notices and suddenly inflated rental ledgers for amounts such as $6000. Through our partnership with the United Planning Organization Petey Greene Center we found their housing caseworkers shared the same concern for the influx of complaints and requests for support. We put together an outreach team consisting of United Planning Organizations workers, One DC organizers and members, and American University students. We did door-to-door outreach in Barry Farm on March 22nd in the Barry Farm community to collect 30 eviction notices and inflated rental ledgers, as well as to connect residents with legal support and other resources through our partnership with Neighborhood Legal Services.
The fight to have the voices and basic human rights of Barry Farm public housing residents protected and included in the redevelopment process continues. We only asked that the Zoning Commission take a stand against the human rights violations that continue in the Barry Farm community.
"For Ebony, Brown, and Tesfamariam, the expiration of Bush’s tax-credit obligations has meant paying more rent, struggling to get by, and most likely trying to move in a year’s time, when the rent will rise to the full market rate. For some of their neighbors, it meant moving out immediately. In both cases, the previously affordable units were lost forever to the ever-rising demands of the free market."
--from Aaron Wiener, "Why D.C. Is About to Have Even Less Affordable Housing," Washington City Paper 8/6/14
Read the full article describing the organizing efforts of ONE DC members and analyzing DC low-income housing policies here.
By Mount Vernon Plaza Tenant Association
We are residents of Mount Vernon Plaza. Some of us have lived in Mount Vernon Plaza since the affordability program, the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, began. When we moved in, we were never told that the affordability program would expire this year. We only found out two months before we were asked to either sign a new lease paying up to $600 a month more or move out!
We have families and some of us are on a fixed income. But our backs were up against the wall and many of us felt we had no choice but to sign the new lease. We were shocked to learn that there is no affordability provision after the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit expires. This means thousands and thousands of residents in the District will soon be in the same position that we are in today.
There’s no point in having an affordability program if after it expires residents are forced to be homeless or imprisoned in sky-high rents! But we have ideas about how we can fix this.
First, we need immediate relief now; we need the council or DHCD to start subsidizing the expired LIHTC buildings like Mount Vernon Plaza now. We want subsidy for all of the expired LIHTC units, even the units that were forced to start paying market-rate rent.
Second, we need legislation passed that compels tax-credit owners to enforce at least a year notice before any rent increase. But this legislation must also say that any expired LIHTC buildings immediately revert to rent control.
Read More Here & Take Action to Support Mount Vernon Plaza
Please also visit savemuseumsquare.com for more info about the tenant struggle to resist displacement at Museum Square, a sister property of Mount Vernon Plaza.
Check out the blog of a movement trying to save Museum Square, a building whose demolition would displace low-income Chinese residents in China town.
From the blog:
"In early June of this year, tenants of Museum Square, a 302-unit Section 8 affordable apartment building in Chinatown, received a notice which revealed the owner’s plans to demolish the building. Tenants were told that they can only save their homes if they can raise $250 million to buy the building. [...] That price works out to just over $827,800 per unit; a completely unrealistic price for this building which is 7 times higher than the $36 million assessed value of the property. [...]
Museum Square represents one of two buildings still home to low-income tenants in this area of the city, and 302 rental units that are at risk of being permanently lost from DC’s stock of affordable housing. And ironically this future development seeks to demolish a building that currently houses the majority of the Chinese residents left in that neighborhood, ultimately so that disproportionately white and higher income people can live in Chinatown. Tenants are working tirelessly to fight for the preservation of their homes and the affordability of this building by any means available."
By Ka Flewellen
The first Kelsey Garden tenants are excited and planning to move back to their Shaw neighborhood in the fall of 2014. It has been eight years of struggle and adjustment for Kelsey Garden tenants who were displaced from their 54 unit garden style apartment complex at 7th & Q Streets NW in the Shaw neighborhood. Their roomy garden style apartments with balconies have been replaced by a new development, Jefferson Marketplace, an eight story, 281 unit apartment building. The Kelsey Garden Tenant Association scored a major victory when they challenged the sale of their building and the tactics owners used to force residents from their homes.
In the 2006 Settlement Agreement, the Kelsey Garden Tenant Association won the right to return to 54 units constructed in the same mix of one, two, three and four bedroom units in the new development for 50 years. With ONE DC as their tenant representative, we have worked to challenge excessive fees, maintain the sense of community among the tenants, and ensure the tenants have legal representation.
- January 2014 we reviewed floor plans for the new development and discussed the move back schedule
- February 2014 we held a leadership training session for the officers of the tenants association to build their skills.
- March 2014 we ensured the KG Tenants Association had legal representation. The Jefferson Apartment Group provided a list of fees and charges facing tenants as they prepared to move back.
- April 2014 our legal team sent a letter to the Jefferson Apartment Group challenging some of the fees and costs KG tenants would be charged to return to the new development.
- April 2014 we met with the DC Housing Authority to get agreement on a special process for Kelsey Garden tenants to lease their new apartments lessening some of the bureaucratic hassles.
- April 2014 Kelsey Garden Tenant Association Officers tour the 1st and 2nd Floors of the building in the construction process
- May 2014 our legal team met with tenant association members to discuss the legal strategy. In a meeting with the Jefferson Apartment Group we were successful in getting over $250 in fees eliminated.
Over the summer months, final preparations will be made to ensure tenants are able to celebrate and move into the new building in the fall of 2014.
By Rob Wohl
For the past three months, ONE DC has been organizing a series of community learning forums called “From the Streets to the Rooftops” to bring together long-time residents as well as newcomers to DC to develop a shared analysis of the processes of gentrification and displacement that are affecting our neighborhoods.
In the first session, we learned about the structural forces driving displacement, focusing on how systematic disinvestment in low income communities of color intensifies poverty while creating opportunities for developers, banks, and other real estate interests to make big profits by buying up cheap land, building expensive housing, and marketing it to wealthier residents. Next, we studied the mythology that drives and justifies the displacement of long-time residents of DC and other cities. We discussed how politicians and academics have masked the problem of poverty, discrimination, and disinvestment in communities of color by pathologizing “concentrated poverty.” When the public is convinced that the city’s main problems result from too many poor people living together, displacing those people and bringing in new, affluent, whiter residents can be treated as the solution.
In our most recent session, we began to study the ways that communities have come together to resist displacement. We brought together a panel of organizers of six community leaders and organizers from DC and Baltimore to draw lessons from fights to preserve public housing, ensure that long-time residents have the right to return when their homes are redeveloped, hold landlords accountable to their tenants, and ensure that our city’s “redevelopment” and “revitalization” plans remain inclusive.
And we’re not done yet. Join ONE DC, community artists, organizers, new and longtime residents on Saturday, July 26th as we explore the cultural diversity of DC through music, poetry, art, and interactive activities. Join in the group meditation and reflection, and participate in discussions around topics of local concern which include the economic cycle of gentrification, the myths of poverty and entitlement, and the successes and challenges of past movements. As we celebrate our shared human experiences and our cultural diversity simultaneously, we will explore the next steps to fight gentrification and the displacement of communities.
We’ll come together from 1-5 PM at Impact Hub DC, 419 7th St NW, and we hope to see you there.