The following is the testimony of community organizer, Terri Acker at a District of Columbia Housing Authority Commissioners meeting on September 14, 2016.
Hello, my name is Terri Acker and I have been a resident of subsidized housing for the majority of my adult life and I have raised 5 daughters here in the city. I am here to testify today and be the bearer of news to the residents from my experience and facts.
The bad news is that DC’s housing crisis is way outpacing the city government’s political will to address it. The good news is that we’re organizing to change that.
This budget season, we joined other organizations in making modest asks which would have represented small dents in the city’s $13 billion budget. We won on some, and lost on others.
Welcome to “Chairman’s Corner”, where our Board Chair, Paul Taskier, will write about a variety of topics that impact Bread for the City and indeed the community and nation at large. We invite you to Read, Enjoy and Share!
Economic viability in our society rests on three legs: education, employment, and housing. Of the three, having housing is arguably the most important. Without a place to live, achieving an education or retaining a job poses an almost insurmountable obstacle.
Last night, Mayor Bowser held her third and final budget forum of 2016 in the complex of the Greenleaf public housing buildings, though few residents seemed to have been invited to the event. About a dozen Bread for the City clients (including Greenleaf residents), organizers, and allies attended the forum to demand more funding for affordable housing in the mayor’s FY 2017 budget.
According to the mayor’s own numbers, just 2% of DC’s $13 billion budget is spent on housing, despite wide agreement that DC is in a housing crisis. That’s about $280 million per year – just half of what the city spends on the police department.
In the first decade of DC’s experiment with public housing redevelopment, at least two of the New Community Initiative’s (NCI) four guiding principles have repeatedly been left by the wayside: Build First, and the right of residents to return to their communities.
A functional Build First would keep residents in quality affordable housing near their original homes during redevelopment; Right to Return would mean no new barriers on their ability to come back.
After a Public Roundtable on these issues last week that was powerfully charged by Bread for the City leaders’ testimony, the DC Council appears to be getting serious about a vision of NCI that truly works for public housing residents.
On February 2nd, less than a week after a dozen Bread leaders and staff testified on NCI, the Council unanimously introduced a resolution to…
Public housing residents filled the room to testify at the DC Council on January 28th about the ways the DC Housing Authority (DCHA) has betrayed them through neglect and dereliction of duty as a landlord.
Tenants noted systemic housing code violations like rodents, mold, leaking plumbing, and holes in ceilings and floors, as well as DCHA’s unwillingness to respond to requests for service. Residents also testified to the warm memories and positive communalism they’ve loved about their public housing neighborhoods at their best.
These stories came out at a Public Roundtable on the New Communities Initiative (NCI) held at the John A Wilson Building, where about a dozen Bread for the City client leaders and staff testified, many for the first time.
In spring 2015, Kathleen Stephan, Community Resource and Quality Assurance Coordinator, began looking into why so many Bread for the City clients were suddenly struggling to obtain an ID. This blog series explores how the system disadvantages people of color living in poverty, and proposes possible improvements to policies that are currently preventing many DC residents from obtaining identification documents.
At her open house in February, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser announced that she would be hosting a series of three Budget Engagement Forums throughout the city.
The purpose of these forums was to let residents know about the proposed items in her budget, and also to hear directly from residents about what things they would like to see her prioritize.
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