Pages tagged "people's platform"
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.
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.
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 [email protected]
Where does change come from? Politicians...? Or the People?
WHO: Organizing Neighborhood Equity (ONE DC), Barry Farms Study Circle, Empower DC, Our DC, Working Families, Fair Budget Coalition, DC Jobs with Justice, ROC-DC, DC residents, Mayoral Candidates Bowser, Evans, Lewis, Orange, Shallal, Wells, Majors, Gray
WHAT: Mayoral Forum
WHEN: Saturday, March 8, 2014 at 4:00 PM
WHERE: THEARC, 1901 Mississippi Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20020
(Washington, DC) — Native Washingtonian Sylvia Brown-Carson dedicated years of time and energy to her government job, only to be embroiled in a worker’s compensation battle due to her work-related injury. As a result, she was evicted from her home and is now living with and caring for her elderly mother in a small one-bedroom apartment. Due to the lack of affordable housing in the city, she has been unable to find a more suitable unit that is both reasonably priced and accessible to her mother, who is disabled. Sylvia, a ONE DC member, expressed her frustration with the situation: “the amount of units being built just doesn’t meet the need, and there are even fewer units available in my case,” she said, referring to her struggle to find an accessible unit. Though she has repeatedly sought housing that meets her family’s needs – a basic human right – she has not found such a place. Furthermore, she cannot put her name on the waitlist as it was closed in April of 2013 due to extremely high numbers. She continued: “It’s just saddening to see how politicians have neglected the affordable housing crisis to the point where it’s this bad, with over 70,000 families on the waiting list and more who can’t sign up now that [the list] is closed.” Like Sylvia, each of these tens of thousands of DC residents has a unique story, and each one has the right to quality, truly affordable housing. “Whoever the candidate is,” Sylvia said, “has got to vouch to clean up [the units] and house all the residents who need it.” We agree. It is time for long-time low-income DC residents of color to have their voices heard and their advice heeded. It is time for The People’s Platform.
Unlike other mayoral forums, ours is run by and for long-time DC residents of color who recognize that there are long-term consequences to candidates’ short-sighted decisions. The co-sponsoring organizations have a long history of organizing DC residents around truly affordable housing, income equity, and education reform using direct action, forcing politicians to not only talk the talk, but also to walk the walk. Instead of listening to the candidates repeat the same stale promises, this forum will feature the innovative voices and ideas of those who know the city best: its long-time residents of color. Through years of discussion and outreach, all contributing organizations and individuals have a strong working knowledge of residents’ needs and demands, and are ready to hold those in power accountable.
The forum will include an opportunity to learn exactly what those who are running for mayor know about the city. The audience is encouraged to participate actively in asking the candidates to think critically about their own platforms and how they can bring about deeper, structural change that promotes equity. Just as direct action has played a crucial role in our work in the past, we plan to utilize similar strategies to ensure that candidates are present and engaged during the forum, and true to their word moving forward.
Given the challenges facing DC and the possibilities for positive change, we challenge candidates to stand for:
- Deeper Affordability in All New Units: Affordable housing means affordable to all. Given that current commitments to the construction of affordable housing meet only 2% of the need for those earning less than 30% of the AMI ($32,250/year), funding for these units must increase.
- The Protection and Preservation of Public and Project-based Section 8 Housing: Public and project-based section 8 housing provide community, stability, and one of the only affordable housing options for DC residents. The government has a responsibility to debunk the negative myths around public and project-based section 8 housing, halt demolitions and ‘opt-outs’, and restore and develop more units.
- A Minimum Wage That Is Truly a Living Wage: To afford a two-bedroom apartment, a family must earn $27 per hour: 3.3 times higher than the current minimum wage ($8.25), and still 2.3 times higher than the coming 2016 increase to $11.50. A minimum wage increase to at least $15 is necessary, including $15 per hour for tipped workers.
For interviews and media credentials, please contact:
- Barry Farms Study Circle, Phyllissa Bilal 240-603-6686 (cell)
- ONE DC, Dominic T Moulden 202-361-9051 (cell)
- Empower DC, Schyla Pondexter-Moore 202-704-7592 (cell)
ONE DC (formerly Manna CDC) was founded in 1997 to help organize long-time, low-to-no wage income DC residents to exercise their political strength to address structural injustices in their neighborhoods, including gentrification and inadequate employment opportunities. ONE DC’s campaigns include the right to land, housing, and jobs. For more information on ONE DC, please visit www.onedconline.org.
Barry Farm Study Circle organizes public housing residents to protect their human rights and challenge the systems of oppression that impede their physical and mental health and wellness. They organize and educate public housing residents to advocate for themselves while also collaboratively working with like-minded organizations and individuals to address the social injustices that impact our families and communities.
Empower DC, founded in 2003, is a citywide membership-based organization dedicated to effecting social change through a democratic, self-help empowerment approach to community organizing. They work to support low and moderate income District residents in raising their voices and building their collective political power.
Fair Budget Coalition advocates for budget and public policy initiatives that address poverty and human needs in the District of Columbia by leveraging the collective power of its member organizations, including working with social service providers to empower those directly affected by poverty to participate in the advocacy process.
Our DC is a not for profit organization working to connect people, communities and organizations to Bring Good Jobs to the District of Columbia. They are dedicated to ensuring that the voices of unemployed and under employed city residents are heard in local and national dialogs on jobs and job creation, and to supporting enforcement of living wage laws and first hiring rights for District residents.
D.C. Working Families, an affiliate of the national Working Families group, is a coalition of progressive labor unions and community-based organizations, which aims to combine efforts to bring about meaningful change in regards to employment justice in the District.
ROC-DC, founded in September 2009, is a local restaurant workers’ organization dedicated to improving working conditions in the restaurant industry. ROC works with its over 500 members and broader DC community to build, develop, and lead the worker center.
DC Jobs with Justice is a dynamic coalition of labor organizations, community groups, faith-based organizations, and student groups dedicated to protecting the rights of working people and supporting community struggles to build a more just society.
- “A Decade of Progress: Investing in Lives and Neighborhoods through the Housing Production Trust Fund,” a Report by the Coalition for Nonprofit Housing and Economic Development, 2012
- DCFPI Report: DC’s First Right Purchase Program Helps to Preserve Affordable Housing and is One of DC’s Key Anti-Displacement Tools, September 2013
- Housing Wage from the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s 2013 DC State Profile