DC Tenants You Rock!

May 21, 2013

At the 6th Annual Tenant Town Hall on Saturday, May 18, 2013, approximately 250 residents – along with many public officials and representatives of multiple community development organizations-assembled to learn from, educate and energize one another! Sponsored by the Latino Economic Development Center and CNHED’s Housing for All Campaign we gathered to make sure that DC maintains and produces housing that is affordable for people with low incomes and ensure good, healthy building conditions. See more photos of the event on Flickr.

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We started with a review of Tenant Town Hall victories over the last six years, including tenant’s right to due landlords in Superior Court over bad conditions; proactive housing code inspections; and major funding increases for affordable housing for the 2014 budget. Many thanked Mayor Gray for his commitment.

Tenant Priorities

–      Support funding for Tenant Purchase: Tracy Trang La talked about the need for building purchase loans the Housing Production Trust Fund

–      First-time time homebuyers: Marilyn Phillips is a soon-to-be homeowner in a rehabilitated building in Ward 8 with the help of the Home Purchase Assistance Program

–      Support Rental Assistance: Judea Lawton made a strong case for helping make rent affordable through the local and federal voucher programs

–      Don’t paint over Mold! Bruno Avila shared his experiences with poor building conditions and urges the development of a program to eliminate mold, asbestos and lead.

DC Councilmembers & Agencies RESPOND

All responded very positively regarding the budget priorities, pledging their support to fight for funding and program improvements.

Councilmember Jim Grahm received great applause, saying “We’re committed to the whole range of affordable housing… and we have too much cash to have homelessness.”

Michael Kelly, Director of the Department of Housing and Community Development, was overflowing with enthusiasm in his support for the Trust Fund and HPAP – and advocated for more rent supplement vouchers to go along with building/preserving affordable housing

Talking about the effects of sequestration, Adrienne Todman, Executive Director DC Housing Authority, asked “We can reduce wait lines at airports but we can’t help homeless people?”  Dir. Todman vowed to fight for additional funding for rent supplement voucher and house hundreds more DC residents.

Johanna Shreve, Chief Tenant Advocate of the District Office of the Tenant Advocate, received a warm welcome and urged tenants to contact her office about problems.

The Town Hall kicked off a new Safe and Healthy Housing Campaign to eliminate of mold, asbestos and lead from multifamily apartment buildings. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) Manager of Housing and Proactive Inspections Gill Davidson offered that DCRA wants to work with its sister agencies and tenants to address how to tackle mold issues affecting tenants.  July 1st will be the first meeting of the Campaign.

Thanks especially to our wonderful MCs for the day:

  • Silvia Salazar of the Norwood Coop, who gave the encouragement:  Keep up the good work, let’s keep moving forward – you have the right to live in decent, affordable housing!

and

  • Juanita McKenzie of Petworth Station who coined our mantra for the day – DC Tenants You Rock!
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