Dear Friend,

Our members are not “voiceless.”  They speak loudly and clearly – but some people don’t want to listen.

We make them listen.

Ms Emma Owens, 30+ yr resident of Barry Farm, speaks out to save her home while other residents listen.

That’s what Empower DC does every day – force city officials,developers, neighbors and others to listen to the real experts on issues of affordable housing, the environment and development in our communities – our members and leaders.  Amplifying, unifying and building power behind their voices is the reason why we exist.

We are excited about a new program that will help us amplify the voices of our leaders!  But we need your help to get started. 

Please help us raise $20,000 to launch a new paid fellowship program for public housing leaders.  The fellowship will include training and on-the-ground experience working as grassroots community organizers throughout DC’s public housing communities.  This summer, the fellowship participants will lead base building outreach, recruit and develop new members, and organize resident-led actions that build support for our public housing campaign agenda.

The result?  A louder voice for public housing which simply cannot be ignored.

 You know that DC is facing an affordable housing crisis.  But did you know that public housing is the only truly affordable housing we have left?  Rent is based on income (residents pay 30% of whatever they earn), its permanent (most other affordable housing restrictions run out after a number of years), and its low barrier (no credit checks to move in!).  DC’s got about 8,000 public housing units left, housing over 15,000 people – but 40,000+ are on the waiting list.  Instead of building more public housing, our city is letting it run down, demolishing it, privatizing it, and essentially eliminating it.

We have a different vision for the future of public housing.  In our vision, public housing becomes locally funded and locally controlled, not reliant on ever-dwindling federal funds.  Our model invests in the good aspects of public housing – the sense of community, family-size units, and affordability – but improves it by incorporating resident-ownership opportunities through cooperatives and community land trust.   

Most importantly the architects of our model are the residents themselves.  This fellowship invests in public housing leaders as they design and advocate for the future of their communities and homes.  

Here are some of the goals we have for our first cohort of fellows:

  • Fellows receive Community Organizing training
  • Base-building grassroots outreach reaches 1,000 public housing residents this summer
  • Resident-led actions call on DC Council to protect the future of public housing
  • Fellows become spokespeople who educate policy makers and the public about the importance of public housing.
Detrice Belt, Chair of the BFTAA holds the bullhorn while 40+ yr Barry Farm resident Mr. Sanker speaks.

We will be investing significant organizational resources to make this a successful program for our leaders.  Your dollars will bridge the gap to ensure that we can cover wages and transportation stipends for our first cohort of fellows.   

Donate today so that we can reach our goal – and help us make sure our leaders are being heard, loud and clear!  

In solidarity,
Parisa B. Norouzi
Executive Director