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Why All Opponents of Gentrification and Police Militarization Should Oppose the DC 2024 Olympic Bid

By Jules Boykoff and Dave Zirin, The Nation

When Muriel Bowser was sworn in last Friday as the new mayor of Washington, DC, she made clear in her inaugural address outlining her vision for the future of the city that a major goal of hers was “winning the Olympics for Washington, DC, in 2024.” This reveals a set of priorities that are deeply disturbing.

The Olympic Games, time and again according to a slew of academic research, have revealed themselves to be defined by debt, displacement and the militarization of public space alongside attendant spikes in police brutality.

In the Washington, DC, area, debt, displacement, the militarization of public space and police brutality are otherwise known as “a Wednesday.” But with the Olympics these processes are always accelerated and intensified, making this a proposal from Mayor Bowser that’ll careen the city toward a precarious future for its most vulnerable residents. The Olympic Games inevitably induce a state of exception where the normal rules of politics do not apply.

For a city already experiencing gentrification at gunpoint, with a conspicuously parked police van for every new bistro in town, the prospect of hosting the Olympics should be terrifying. As Daniel del Pielago who is an organizer with a leading, deeply rooted community organization called Empower DC said to us, “We know that hosting the Olympics is yet another tool to push out Black and low-income residents from DC. We continue to see our so called leaders prioritizing events and stadiums over the lives of the city’s most vulnerable residents.”

Washington, DC, sits on the United States Olympic Committee’s shortlist of candidates to host the 2024 Summer Games, along with Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Last month the cities’ bid committees convened in Redwood City, California where they pitched their shiniest presentations to the USOC. DC’s five-person contingent included high-powered banker Russ Ramsey and billionaire Wizards and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis—as well as Mayor-Elect Bowser, Olympic gold-medal-winning swimmer Katie Ledecky, and former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue.

The USOC, which is only allowed to put one city forward to the International Olympic Committee, will make its decision perhaps as early as this week. The IOC, in turn, will pick the host city for the 2024 Summer Games in 2017, giving the “winner” seven years to prepare. Along with Los Angeles, Washington, DC has emerged as a leading contender. Meanwhile in Boston and San Francisco, activists have spoken loudly and clearly that the USOC can take their Games and shove them. Activist action absolutely matters as the IOC always factors in local support when selecting the Olympic host city.

DC’s neoliberal privatization project, with lower-income black and brown residents pushed to impoverished suburban enclaves, has met with community resistance by organizations like Empower DC, One DC, and others. The Olympics would provide a pretext to roll over both community organizers and a new generation of activists speaking out against connected issues of displacement and police brutality, like a tank. Based upon what we’ve seen during the Brazilian World Cup and Olympic preparation in Rio, not to mention Ferguson, it might even be with an actual tank.

While Olympic boosters are claiming the Games will cost between $4 and $5 billion, this is about as realistic as someone running a two-minute mile. Every single Olympics since 1960 has gone over-budget, and at a whopping average rate of 179 percent—and that number doesn’t even factor in the greatest heist of them all, the $51 billion Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014.

So who is the DC2024 Games committee? The group’s chair is multi-millionaire investment banker Russ Ramsey with Wizards and Capitals billionaire owner Ted Leonsis acting as vice chair. They’ve already raised $5 million to push their bid. Ramsey and Leonsis are joined by a quirky hodgepodge of venture capitalists and local powerbrokers, including celebrity chef José Andrés, Washington Mystics President Sheila Johnson, and former DC Mayor, the person who ushered in the city’s age of gentrification, the famously bowtied Anthony Williams.

Williams recently wrote in The Washington Post that hosting the Games would give DC an “economic lift.” Contradicting a strong and growing body of economic research that finds the exact opposite, he argued, “Bringing the Olympic and Paralympic Games to Washington—literally hosting the world would boost the whole region but particularly some of the places in our city that need it the most.” Meanwhile, as Holy Cross economics professor Robert Baumann has asserted about mega-events like the Olympics, “There is no economic rationale to host one of these things.”

Yet this hasn’t stopped politicos from across the ideological spectrum from supporting DC’s five-ring escapade. The bipartisan bedfellows pushing for this project are on the face, bizarre. Linking arms, we have new DC Mayor Bowser, Tea Party darling Jason Chaffetz, the incoming chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which oversees DC affairs, as well as Newt Gingrich, Howard Dean, and Bob Dole. They appear in a short, slickly produced video along with liberal demigods John Lewis and Eleanor Holmes-Norton. The DC2024 committee not only puts the faces of two civil rights icons at the center of their PR push, but it also slakes people’s thirst to see Republicans and Democrats working together on anything. This messaging is a product of the combined efforts of President Obama’s re-election guru Jim Messina and Mitt Romney’s campaign manager Matt Rhoades who have combined forces—and funds—to push the bid.

It’s certainly understandable why people would want to see politicians working together on anything in this town. No doubt some of these folks see the Olympics as a way to show off the city to a global audience. But we should not be led astray by this idiosyncratic band of believers. The price to everyday people living, breathing, and being pushed out of the city would be horrific. Bowser’s remarks in making their pitch to the United States Olympic Committee should be particularly chilling. She said, “We’re used to putting on national security events; we can move the people; we have a lot of existing facilities and infrastructure. We put on a good case for D.C. being the American city.” In other words, we know how to carry out a crackdown.

We can thank Ted Leonsis for laying bare the logic that drives Games boosters. He said in 2011 that “Economic Success has somehow become the new boogie man…This is counter to the American Dream and is really turning off so many people that love American and basically carry our country on their back by paying taxes and by employing people and creating GDP.” This gets the Olympics argument perfectly. John Carlos, the 1968 Olympian once said to us that “They only hold the Olympics every four years because it takes four years to count the money.” In other words, the Olympics will surely bring in money, but for whom? In Leonsis’ mind, it’s money for him and there is nothing wrong with that because he thinks it’s his class of people that are “carrying the country, employing people and creating GDP.” In other words, what’s good for Ted Leonsis is what’s good for Washington, DC…even though he lives in an eight-million dollar home on the Potomac River in Maryland.

Leonsis has blended trickle-down economics with dime-store bloviating. Instead of making the positive case for the Games he has instead chosen to bluster: “This is about bringing the world to Washington and bringing Washington to the world. The idea of fostering unity could leave, for the whole of mankind, the greatest Olympics legacy ever. Only Washington could do this.”

As is always the case when the Olympics come to down, the foul stench of land grabbing pervades this project. A George Washington University professor recently stated about the area along the Anacostia River: “It’s very similar to the London setup…It’s a plot of land that’s been kind of wasteland, and people said, ‘We want to develop that because it’s on the water.’ Just like Sydney, where they developed that waterfront land, it’s there for the taking.”

This brazen land snatching is also symbolized by the proposed site of the Olympic Village, the place where the athletes stay during the Games. DC2024 has reportedly suggested building the Village in Hill East, an area to the south of RFK Stadium that is the current location of the DC General homeless shelter. The Washington Post wrote, “Housing built there for athletes could then help alleviate the city’s affordable housing shortage.” Yet similar promises that the Olympic Village would magically turn into high quality, low-income housing has been made in seemingly every Olympics in history and it never happens. One can practically imagine the officials of ancient Greece swearing that the Temple of Zeus would become quality multi-family dwellings after the last race. For the London 2012 Olympics, the Olympic Village was sold at a taxpayer loss to Qatar’s ruling Al Thani family’s realty company. “Affordable” homes in Olympic Park rent for $2,000 to $2,700 per month. And let’s not lose sight of the fact that DC2024 are saying nonchalantly that a homeless shelter will be destroyed for the Olympics.

Longtime DC movement leader Reverend Graylan Hagler got it exactly right when he told us, “The obsession that develops to accommodate the Games in local communities has always had a dramatic effect upon the poor. The poor are always displaced, and the homeless are removed from the city where the Olympics occur because the powers to be want to sanitize the venue so that those venues become artificial and deceptive places to enjoy the Games.” He pointed to Atlanta, the last US city to host the Summer Games back in 1996, where homeless people we’re scooped up and booted from the city in order “to create a superficial and untruthful story of Atlanta’s prosperity.” Reverend Hagler added, “We need jobs and affordable housing for poor and working class people in Washington DC, better schools and political leaders who advocate for and protect poor and working class people.”

Dominic Moulden, resource organizer at ONE DC, a grassroots community-building group, told us he was approached to sign on in support of the DC2024 Games, but emphatically declined. Moulden, who has organized in DC for nearly three decades, asked, “Why would any organization promoting racial and economic equity in DC support the Olympics which clearly creates lasting inequity and maintains the structures of social dislocation?” He vowed, “ONE DC will organize, protest, and raise our resident-led voices against the displacement and policing of long time DC residents and all residents if there are plans for the Olympics in DC.”

In November 2014, the Washington Post reported that DC2024 honchos “took members of the U.S. Olympic Committee on helicopter rides over the Mall and the Anacostia River to show off the city.” Nothing could be more appropriate in symbolizing this bid. From a helicopter, it’s a grand idea. From the street, it’s a cash grab. It’s using sports, civic pride, and people’s thirst to see something—anything—bipartisan come out of this town, into a smash-and-grab operation that will remake the city for the benefit of the people Leonsis believes “carry the country on their back.” This orgy of corporate welfare they propose reveals that it’s actually Leonsis, Ramsey, and their ilk who are being carried. If the Olympics come to DC, it will be schools, social services for the poor, and anyone affected by police violence who will suffer under that weight.

http://www.thenation.com/blog/194129/why-all-opponents-gentrification-and-police-militarization-should-oppose-dc-2024-olympic


Gentrification, Revitalization or Renaissance?

An in-depth discussion about housing trends in D.C. was hosted by Elevation DC Magazine, Oct. 21.

The conversation was an effort to explore the line between preserving affordable housing for long-time District residents and making way for newcomers to enjoy living in the city as well, said David Bowers, VP and market leader at Mid-Atlantic and representative from Enterprise Community Partners, who sponsored the event.

The panel discussion, “Gentrification, Revitalization or Renaissance,” was moderated by Rebecca Sheir, host of WAMU’s Metro Connection and took place at Shiloh Baptist Church in the Shaw neighborhood in Northwest.

The “G word” or gentrification can be a touchy subject, according to panelist Dr. Bernard Demczuk, George Washington University’s assistant vice president for D.C. government relations, African American history teacher at School Without Walls and Ben’s Chili Bowl historian. He said he prefers not to use the term at all.

He argued that word’s associated with the displacement of low-income residents by more upwardly mobile individuals is inaccurate. Instead, the cause is a reflection of the third great wave of American cities.

“It has to do with the natural flow of economics and demographic shifts,” he said. “And ain’t nothing going to stop it.”

Long-time District residents and newcomers attended the discussion. Conversely, Dominic Mouldon, representing non-profit ONE DC, views gentrification as an injustice against people of African descent. “D.C. claims to be a human rights city,” he said. “The crime [of gentrification] is the erasing of civil and human rights for D.C. citizens — the erasing of history, culture and art of long time D.C. residents.”

Read more at The Afro


DC Government Tells Owner of Mount Vernon Plaza Apartments to Stop Rent Increases

After successfully demanding a meeting with Councilmember Muriel Bowser, the People’s Platform Alliance, including Mount Vernon Plaza residents, won a temporary reprieve from the management of Mount Vernon Plaza Apartments. Several residents received a thirty-day extension to the initial notice to pay an extra $600 a month or vacate the property.

 

In a letter dated October 21st, officials from the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) notified the owner of Mount Vernon Plaza Apartments to “cease and desist with any attempts to raise the rents on the rent restricted units without DHCD consent and in violation of affordability restrictions.” In response to this most recent development, Mount Vernon Plaza tenant, Quitel Andrews, had the following to say:

It is clear the only way tenants are guaranteed any kind of protection is when we organize. Landlords will use any and every opportunity to take advantage of the increasingly expensive rental market even if that means pushing longtime D.C. residents out. It is imperative that city officials use every legal mechanism available to protect tenants. If we did not organize and demand Councilmember Bowser to step in, the owner would have gotten away with unethically and quite possibly illegally displacing residents.”

 

Despite the letter, property managers at Mount Vernon Plaza Apartments continue to employ intimidation tactics to force residents out.  On Friday, one resident, Alem Gheremariam, received a notice to vacate his apartment before his lease had expired.

 

The situation at Mount Vernon Plaza Apartments demonstrates the importance of passing legislation that ensures permanent housing affordability in the District and ultimately a comprehensive strategy that addresses the housing needs of all D.C. residents.

 

The demonstration in Councilmember Muriel Bowser’s office is the first step in holding elected officials accountable. D.C. officials must be pushed to embrace a more inclusive housing plan for the city. Most importantly, the next mayor will play an integral role in creating a truly equitable D.C for all residents.

 

The People’s Platform Alliance will continue to organize until the economic, racial, and gender inequities affecting low-income people are eliminated.

 

Press Contact: Rosemary Ndubuizu, ONE DC organizer
rosemary.ndubuizu@gmail.com
(323) 397-8347


Demonstrators Descend On Bowser's Office With Affordable Housing Demands

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.

Read More


Mount Vernon Tenants & People's Platform Members Hold sit-in at Bowser’s D.C. Council Office

More than a dozen residents of a D.C. apartment building and advocates for the poor staged a sit-in Monday at the council offices of Muriel E. Bowser (D-Ward 4).

Members of ONE DC, a social justice group, said they had unsuccessfully requested a meeting with Bowser, the chair of the committee with oversight of housing issues, since July regarding rising rental costs at Mount Vernon Plaza apartments.

Under terms of public loans and grants to the property dating to the 1980s, owners of the building had long been required to maintain more than 60 apartments as low-rent units. That obligation recently expired, and tenants in the building near the Walter E. Washington Convention Center began receiving letters warning that rates would increase $500 to $600 a month, or about 50 percent. Rents would rise again next year by a similar amount, the letters said, to reach market rate.

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BREAKING: Long-time D.C. Residents Stage Sit-in inside Wilson Building

protest.jpgToday 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.

Take Action

  1. Send an email to Councilmember Bowser demanding she introduces legislation for protect residents from Mount Vernon Plaza Apartments from displacement.
  2. Call Councilmember Muriel Bowser at (202) 724-8052

Call Script

Hi, my name is ______ and I am calling to ask the Councilmember to take a stand in support of affordable housing.

Forty-five buildings financed through low-income housing tax credits and tax-exempt bonds have affordability restrictions set to expire in the next five years. Losing these affordable units will further exacerbate the housing crisis in the District.

In one of those buildings, Mount Vernon Plaza near the Convention Center, residents are on the verge of being displaced or homeless in the coming days if immediate action to stop the rent increase isn't taken.

Can I count on the Councilmember to advocate on behalf of Mount Vernon Plaza residents?

3. Send a tweet to Councilmember Bowser

Sample Tweet
@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!


People’s Platform Peace Vigil in Remembrance of Thousands of Residents Forced to Leave the District

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
rosemary.ndubuizu@gmail.com
323.397.8247

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 organizer@onedconline.org


Shaw Residents and Community Organizers Strategize to Stay in Their Neighborhood

By Brenda Hayes, This Light: Sounds for Social Change

In a town rife with Non-Profits that seemingly have all the answers for what ails longtime D.C. residents as they face gentrification-fueled displacement, ONE DC’s July 26th meeting was a much needed breath of fresh air for me. I asked permission to record the meeting for my radio show This Light: Sounds For Social Change, thankfully permission was granted to me to do so.

The meeting opened with a visual recap of June’s meeting. A 1950 to present timeline of redlining and economic cycles that lead to displacement hung on one of the walls. An adjacent wall held a visual that had the word “Concentrated Poverty” written in the center, surrounding those words were some of the commonly held beliefs about people who live in poverty; rampant drug abuse, crime, apathy.

We all sat in a familiar “meeting circle,” introduced ourselves and said how long each of us has lived in D.C.; there was one man who has lived in D.C. since birth, 60+ years.

eyesclosed.jpgNext we were led to do an exercise in which attendees were asked to present a physical movement that represents their perspective of gentrification and displacement. Some of the poses and movements included a young white woman who stood with her back to the rest of the group as she covered her eyes, blind to what was going on just behind her. A few people held stances of defiance, arrogance, indifference and helplessness.

For the second part of the exercise, we were asked to physically represent empowerment, action and change. I was most struck by what one Shaw resident, who happens to be a black woman, did; she held an invisible protest sign high above her head, two young white participants quickly stood in support behind her holding their invisible placards up. What these three participants represented to me is the need for community lead, driven, and sustained movement for equity in housing, work, and education.

Before the meeting, I interviewed longtime community activist Linda Leaks who handed out Terms of Empowerment, a seven page glossary of housing-related terms in which residents should become familiar when trying to remain in neighborhoods besieged by gentrification.

I also interviewed Patricia Trim, a 40+ year Shaw resident. During our conversation Ms. Trim told me how her mother would come to D.C. during the week for her job with the Federal Government and leave her with relatives in Virginia. Ms. Trim’s mother couldn’t afford to have her stay here in D.C. until she was sixteen years old. Ms. Trim and her mother moved several times, Champlain Street in Adams Morgan, 18th and Wyoming, 17th and T Sts., each time staying in apartments until the rent was raised to a prohibitively high amount. protest.jpg

Ms. Trim recently drove to Columbia Heights to see a dentist on 14th Street. As she drove to her appointment she realized she was in the neighborhood where she grew up. After her appointment, she
decided to drive around a bit and was astonished at and dismayed by all the changes that have taken place in recent years. She couldn’t bring herself to drive down Champlain Street the street where she first lived when she and her mother moved to D.C.

When she arrived back home that day, she went to her bedroom to pray. She tearfully asked “What I have done to fall so far from grace to be treated less than a human being.” I fear too many D.C. residents people are asking that same question.


Phyllissa Bilal of Barry Farm Study Circle Testifies Against 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.

Thank You,

Phyllissa Bilal

Cofounder Barry Farm Study Circle

barry_farm_study_circle_logo.jpg


Affordable Housing and Mount Vernon Plaza

"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.