Empower DC supporters Phylissa Bilal, Maurice Alexander and Robert Warren testifying at DC Council FY 2017 Budget Oversight Hearing on April 21, 2016.
Paulette Mathews testifying at DC Council Public Round Table on New Communities Initiative & The Right to Return on January 28, 2016 .
Long-time resident and president of the Potomac Gardens Family Residents Council, Aquarius Vann-Ghasri, testifying at DC Council Public Round Table on New Communities Initiative & The Right to Return on January 28, 2016.
Schyla Pondexter-Moore testifying at DC Council Public Round Table on New Communities Initiative & The Right to Return on January 28, 2016.
Schyla Pondexter-Moore protesting St. Elizabeth demolition.
Schyla Pondexter-Moore at Public Q&A on zoning January 27, 2015.
Through support from the Bainum Family Foundation, Empower DC is doing extensive outreach and community engagement in order to identify and understand the needs of low-income families with young children, and develop a grassroots-led campaign to support policy change that advances solutions to the needs identified. With an initial focus on the public housing community Woodland Terrace, Empower DC will offer Parent
Cafe’s, forums, and events to advance community members’ understanding of how policy is developed in the city, to strengthen advocacy skills and to inform the community about opportunities to share their views at key City Council hearings on TANF, child care, and other areas of concern to low-income families. For more information and to get involved contact: Jennifer Speight Community Organizer email@example.com (202) 234-9119 ext. 102
The Buzzard Point neighborhood is not just the destination of the new Soccer Stadium. This area in SW DC is home to hundreds of low income residents who are being exposed to air pollution, toxic soil, and other hazards. Residents are calling for analysis of these conditions and precautions to protect human health.
For more information and to get involved in the Environmental Justice Campaign contact: Kari Fulton
(202) 234-9119 ext. 101 firstname.lastname@example.org
India Fuller, Resident of Greenleaf Gardens Public Housing in SW
Last week Empower DC and Black Lives Matter DC blocked a “spacefinding tour” of developers in SW and SE DC Some people have questioned if this direct action is a proper tactic in addressing gentrification. India Fuller, a resident of Greenleaf Gardens Public Housing in SW DC tells us why it is and why it is important.
Justice for Barry Farms! Add your name to our letter to DC Mayor Muriel Bowser to show you stand with the Barry Farm Tenants and Allies Association (BFTAA) in calling for Redevelopment in Place for the Barry Farm public housing community.
Stop displacing Black residents from their homes and communities! Keeping people on the site is the only guaranteed way that hundreds of original Barry Farm residents will be able to maintain their place in the “new” community. Development plans call for 1,000 new private units to be built on the 24-acre site, in addition to replacing public housing units. But previous redevelopment projects have taught us – new entry criteria, years of waiting, smaller unit sizes and other barriers keep most original residents from returning to their redeveloped properties.
Let’s make sure that the residents who are fighting to keep their place in Barry Farm are protected! Sign the letter, and then share it with the hashtag #JusticeforBarryFarm on social media.
Mayor Muriel Bowser John A. Wilson Building 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20004
Re: Stop Barry Farm Displacement
Dear Mayor Bowser:
As you know, the Barry Farm public housing community is on the verge of aggressive displacement. Right now Barry Farm residents are being forcibly relocated from their homes in an attempt to hurriedly empty the property to prepare for demolition.
As the District faces an ongoing affordable housing crisis, with over 8,000 homeless on any given day, over 40,000 on the now closed waiting list for subsidized housing – your administration is continuing a policy of public housing “redevelopment” that is wiping away desperately needed housing. We are asking that you stop and reconsider your approach to public housing redevelopment, recognizing that the permanently affordable, low barrier nature of public housing makes it a precious resource for tens of thousands of District residents who are not served by the private market, and who can’t afford the housing called “affordable” by your administration.
Throughout the city, Black communities have been uprooted by economic and social forces. Over 40,000 Black residents have been forced from the District since 2000. The city must stop the relentless displacement of Black residents from their homes and communities. We cannot allow the continued extinction of our neighborhood history and cultural identity.
The plans currently in place for the redevelopment of Barry Farm would completely wipe out another historic Black community, erasing not just the demolished buildings but the people of the community and their social ties along with it. In the end 444 households, over 1,000 Black residents, are proposed to be moved from the property on which they live – the same property that was settled by freed men and women in the years after the Civil War. The city proposes to replace Barry Farm with a “New Community” that would include 1,400 units of housing, providing homeownership opportunities for hundreds of new residents.
There are serious problems with the plan being pursued by the DC Housing Authority (DCHA) and the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) for the redevelopment of Barry Farm. This plan will not only destroy the existing community, but will have a detrimental impact on Ward 8 and contribute to the affordable housing crisis that extends throughout DC.
How “affordable” will the new Barry Farm be? No one knows, because there is NO detailed information about unit affordability in the redevelopment plan and no articulated criteria for who will qualify for units designated as affordable. We do not know how many affordable units will be built, nor to what income levels they will be dedicated.
Who will get to return to the community? Despite the city’s claims, in truth Barry Farm residents are not guaranteed to be able to return to the redeveloped property. Many will be excluded including those deemed not lease compliant due to owing back rent, or those who can’t meet the new requirements imposed by private housing managers. As is common in these redevelopments, new units will not accommodate large families who need multiple bedroom units, which will be eliminated.
How will current residents benefit from this plan? Studies have shown that displacement not only destroys the social networks that low income people depend on to meet basic needs, but also few who are relocated experience real benefits from living in a “mixed income” community, despite popular claims made supporting the de-concentration of poverty theory.
Will this plan worsen DC’s housing and homeless crisis? More than 8,000 people are homeless in the District on any given day, the majority of them families with children. The demolition of Barry Farm will remove 444 low-barrier, truly affordable housing units from the city’s portfolio adding to the crisis. Previous redevelopments have failed to deliver on their promise of rebuilding affordable units, worsening the family housing crisis which currently costs the city $80,000 per night to house families in hotels, and $50,000 per year for residents of the deplorable DC General family shelter.
If this redevelopment moves forward, it must be done in a way that minimizes the displacement of residents from Barry Farm, and that creates opportunities for current residents. It can be done. Here is how:
Redevelop Barry Farm in phases, keeping residents in place
phased redevelopment was originally promised to the residents in the small area plan
studies show that below 20% of residents who are displaced from their communities due to redevelopment ever come back
keeping residents on the site is possible, and it’s the only way to ensure that they are not displaced from the area of the city with which they are familiar, so that they can maintain social networks and protect their right to participate in the new community
Rebuild PUBLIC HOUSING, owned and managed by DCHA, with no net loss of public housing units
Public Housing is needed in DC. It serves people who are not served by any other form of housing including returning citizens
Previous experience shows that when new affordable units are privately owned and managed, exclusionary criteria are put in place which prevent residents from reentering
There are 444 units on the Barry Farm site. The redeveloped property should include no less than 444 units of DCHA owned and managed housing
There must be no loss of larger units with multiple bedrooms, which are desperately needed by low income families such as those who are currently in shelter
Ownership and business opportunities for residents in the “New Community”
the redevelopment plan must include opportunities for current residents of public housing to become homeowners and business owners
this can be achieved through limited –equity cooperative homeownership and space reserved for small business incubation
public housing redevelopment done right could be a model for community uplift and community development, not a horror story of displacement and gentrification
Repairs and maintenance NOW
It is illegal and immoral for repairs and maintenance to halt when residents still reside in a property as has happened in Barry Farm, regardless of whether a future redevelopment is planned
Poor conditions threaten the health of residents especially children and the medically vulnerable such as those with asthma
Purposeful neglect has created poor conditions which have been used as a justification for demolition. DCHA needs to be held accountable to providing ongoing maintenance and repair to all of its properties – and the DC Council needs to step in and help fund public housing repairs if Federal dollars are not enough to get the job done
Grant amnesty for lease incompliant residents
A large percentage of current Barry Farm residents are considered “lease incompliant” due to owing DCHA for back rent, fees associated with air conditioning units, or other infractions and are therefore not allowed to return to the new community
DCHA has for years not enforced its policy of evicting residents who owe back rent. It is not legal for the agency to begin enforcing it now as a means of clearing out Barry Farm
All DCHA policies must be enforced equally across all DCHA properties, otherwise the agency is violating the Human Rights Act by treating people differently according to which community they live in.
We the undersigned find that there are too many outstanding questions and concerns remaining with the Barry Farm redevelopment, and it must not move forward as planned. We are calling on government officials to assume responsibility for protecting the rights of vulnerable, low income Barry Farm residents immediately!
Mayor Bowser, you must direct DCHA and the chosen developers to implement redevelopment in place and follow the outline above.
theDC City Council must provide the detailed and aggressive oversight necessary to ensure DCHA is accountable to their mission — housing residents in need.
Sincerely, Barry Farms Tenants and Allies Association Empower DC Paulette Mathews, Barry Farm Resident Detrice Belt, Barry Farm Resident Bequita Simms, Barry Farm Resident Martha Williams, Barry Farm Resident Larnette Culver, Barry Farm Resident Emma Owens, Barry Farm Resident Michelle Hamilton, Barry Farm Resident Nedra Mitchell, Barry Farm Resident James C Shaw, Barry Farm Resident Jewel Sims, Barry Farm Resident Nicole Odom, Barry Farm Resident Ismael Vasquez, Sr, Barry Farm Resident Rev Graylan Hagler, Senior Minister, Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ and Principal, Faith Strategies Rev Willie Wilson, Union Temple Baptist Church Rev Dr Raymond Bell, Spirit of Love and Deliverance Baptist Church Rev Dr Lewis Tait, Jr, The Village Rev Dr Edwin Jones, Sr, Living Faith Baptist Church Rev Donald Robinson, First Baptist Church Rev Ruth Hamilton Aristotle Theresa, Attorney Jim McGrath, Chairman, TENAC Maurice Alexander, DC public housing resident Black Lives Matter DC DC for Democracy DC Jobs With Justice Fair Budget Coalition Jews United for Justice Justice First Many Languages One Voice ONE DC Showing Up for Racial Justice DC Washington Peace Center WPFW / Pacifica Radio 89.3 FM #KeepDC4Me
Barry Farm residents know the value of their neighborhood, their neighbors and of Public Housing. We’ve been interviewing residents to get a sense of why remaining on the property during the redevelopment of Barry Farm and keeping it as Public Housing is important. Click the link below to hear the first installment in a series we’re calling Voices from Barry Farm:
This gathering was initiated by Pope Francis, with the purpose of creating “an ‘encounter’ between Church leadership and grassroots organizations working to address the ‘economy of exclusion and inequality’ by working for structural changes that promote social, economic and racial justice.”
Today on Taking Action we will report back from the World Meeting, sharing our reflections on the historic gathering. Listen to today’s show here: Here are the recommendations that came out of the gathering.
11th Annual MLK Peace Walk and Parade Monday, January 16 12:00 PM Meet at Excel Academy 2501 Martin Luther King Ave SE
Join Empower DC & Barry Farm Tenants and Allies Association (BFTAA) at the 11th annual Martin Luther King Jr Day Peace Walk! This year we will meet at the corner of MLK Ave & Sumner Rd at 12pm to hand out hot beverages and flyers before we join the parade route.
This Saturday, January 14th we will meet at the Empower DC offices to make signs for the parade from 11am – 2pm. Light refreshments will be served.
Barry Farm Tenants & Allies Association VS DC Zoning Commission
Wednesday, September 28, 2016
Rally and Vigil at 8:00 AM (hearing starts at 9)
Location: DC Court of Appeals 430 E St, NW
Bring ID to enter the court building.
We are planning to stand with BFTAA (Barry Farms Tenants and Allies) on September 28th at the DC Court of Appeals. BFTAA is appealing the DC Zoning Commission’s Stage 1 PUD (Planned Unit Development) approval. The Zoning Commission failed to acknowledge the displacement of Barry Farms residents as a “hardship” in their zoning approval of the redevelopment. The DC Office of Planning’s Comprehensive Plan calls for the redevelopment to avoid “dislocation or hardship” as if 1 doesn’t equal the other. We MUST show up to convey the message to the judge and to the public that displacement IS hardship! BFTAA needs a STRONG presence with allies at this hearing.
Rally with Barry Farm residents before we enter the Appeals Court to deliver oral arguments in our appeal of the Zoning decision which approved the Barry Farm redevelopment. Help us send the message that dislocation IS hardship, and DCHA is violating the law by not protecting the needs of residents.
We want to thank everyone who came out to support Barry Farm residents! Please continue to support our Public Housing Campaign, which is lead by an amazing 4 year veteran of Empower DC , Schyla Pondexter-Moore. Let’s continue to fight displacement in our city, to stand up for justice, to build our power and hold government officials accountable!