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Mount Vernon Plaza Residents Take a Stand!

By Mount Vernon Plaza Tenant Associationmount_vernon.jpg

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.

IMAG0344.jpgSecond, 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.


Save Museum Square!

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.

http://savemuseumsquare.com/

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."


Kelsey Garden Tenants Prepare to Return

By Ka Flewellen

kelsey_gardens_1.jpgThe 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.kelsey_gardens_2.jpg

  • 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.

 


What Would It Take to End Displacement?

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.

RSVP Here