[Hpn] DC housing takeover

hnj-dc@homesnotjails.org hnj-dc@homesnotjails.org
Thu, 23 Nov 2000 22:10:02 -0500

> Hey all-
> Today, Homes Not Jails took over a vacant HUD-owned building at 1959 H St. 
> NE and is still there making repairs and readying the house for a homeless 
> family to move in.  The family holds a HUD-issued Section 8 housing voucher. 
>   In three days the time allotted for them to find a landlord that will 
> accept that voucher runs out.
> Throughout the day the group also helped repair a nearby neighbor's public 
> housing unit.  She asked HNJ for help because her requests to the city for 
> repairs have been ignored.
> Surprisingly, cops have not approached the building to ask questions.  
> Neighbors have been incredibly supportive.  According to one neighbor, the 
> building was empty and abandoned for at least twenty years.
> The mother of the family that is participating in the takeover with HNJ, has 
> been either homeless or living in unstable temporary shelter for ten years. 
> Though she  holds a Section 8 certificate, she has had a very difficult time 
> finding  a landlord that will accept it.  When she has found a landlord 
> willing to accept a voucher, she hasn't met there income requirements or had 
> the money to pay security deposits.
> HUD's Section 8  program is failing many people throughout the city.  
> Thousands of families spend years on waiting lists for the vouchers.  If 
> they do receive a voucher, they are then hard-pressed to find any landlord 
> that will accept it within the sixty-day time period that they are granted 
> to look for a home.  Landlords often ask up to $1,000 up front for a 
> security deposit, despite the dire need driving most of the tenants to use 
> the Section 8 program.
> Meanwhile, according to a HUD source, there are close to six hundred 
> HUD-owned properties in DC.  If an FHA mortgage loan property is foreclosed 
> on, HUD takes the property and can sell it at market rate.  One does not 
> have to be low-income to buy a HUD-owned property.  Yet A HUD Section 8 
> housing voucher is an acknowledgement that the holder is in need of low- or 
> no-income housing.  Why can't HUD give a family in need a home, instead of 
> sending them on a wild goose chase with a voucher?
> The search time for the mother's Section 8 housing voucher runs out on Nov. 
> 26th.  Her family's Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits 
> are due to run out at the end of the year.  The "welfare to work program" 
> she is part of, AME job training, was sending her to classes that had no 
> instructors.  When she had a job as a home health provider at $6.00 an hour, 
> she was kept away from home for days at a time for a wage that barely met 
> her family's needs, with no child care for her two-year-old during those odd 
> hours.  The stress this created caused a family emergency that forced her to 
> quit her job so that she could attend to her family needs.  The temporary 
> housing program she is in, Marshall Heights, reapeatedly ignores or is 
> extremely slow to act on her requests to repair unhealthy leaks and rodent 
> problems in her house, even though her youngest son has asthma.  Her  stay 
> in temporary shelter ends in March.   She hopes to finally have a permanent 
> home that she can afford.  We are pushing for HUD to turn the building over 
> to her.  HNJ is committed to working together to bring the house completely 
> up to code. She and other HNJ folks will only leave the building if dragged 
> out.
> What you can do to help:
> 1.	Come on out! Stick around.  Eat meals with us.  Show your support for 
> housing justice by holding a placard, playing football, raking some leaves, 
> picking up trash, painting a wall, playing with the two-year old, or just 
> dancing to the music.
> 2.	Call HUD at 202-275-9206 or 202-275-9200 and demand that they transfer 
> ownership of the house at 1959 H St. NE to Nadine and her children and allow 
> them to make it their first permanent home.
> 3.	Call Council Member Sharon Ambrose at 202-724-8072 and Mayor Williams 
> 202-727-2980 and demand that they support Homes Not Jails' cause and put 
> pressure on HUD to turn the building over to the homeless family.
> 4.	Bring donations.  We need flashlights, batteries, a coleman stove, 
> BLANKETS, mattresses, spring water, hot beverages, food, toilet paper, 
> tools, money for building supplies, cups, buckets, and good energy.
> 5.	Know any good electricians/plumbers?  Please send them our way.
> Thank you!
>     To reach Homes Not Jails: 202-297-4430, or hnj-dc@homesnotjails.org
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