[Hpn] Homes Not Jails DC - 3 ARRESTED at SQUAT of abandoned HUD housing
Tue, 27 Feb 2001 22:23:33 -0800 (PST)
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FWD January 18, 2001 - Washington, D.C. USA
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Please support Homes Not Jails DC. Three HNJ activists were recently
arrested for squatting a vacant house owned by the United States Department
of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Following the news articles below, find more LINKS to information on Homes
Not Jails chapter in Washington, D.C.
FWD Washington Post / Tuesday, February 27, 2001; Page B03
Activists Arrested at NE Row House
D.C. authorities yesterday declared a vacant row house on K Street NE
uninhabitable and arrested three housing activists who refused to leave the
structure, which they and others had occupied Saturday in hopes of
rehabilitating it for a homeless person or family. Daniel Gordon, Jamie
Loghner and Jeremiah Gildeah were charged with unlawful entry and were
expected to spend last night in custody, said Erin Ralston, of the group
Homes Not Jails.
PROTESTERS TAKE OVER ABANDONED NE HOUSE
By Darryl Fears
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 25, 2001; Page C01
Chanting "Whose house? Our house!" a group of young advocates marched
down Massachusetts Avenue NE near Union Station yesterday to bring
attention to their crusade to take over an abandoned house for a
homeless family. They succeeded in turning heads, but most of those
belonged to D.C. police.
By the time the members and supporters of Homes Not Jails reached the
house at 304 K St. NE about noon, two police cruisers were shadowing
them. Sgt. C.E. Burch stopped his cruiser and told officers in the
second car to "get out and secure that building."
Thus began a long, chilly standoff that produced a succession of small
dramas highlighting the issue of homelessness. Onlookers on the sidewalk
started debating the issue. Gawkers driving slowly past delayed traffic.
An Advisory Neighborhood Commission member railed against the protesters
and criticized them for not informing his group of what, to him, was an
As night fell, police left, said advocates, who then moved in and
The spectacle unfolded in a city where five homeless people froze to
death in January and where a skyrocketing housing market is threatening
to force thousands of low-income tenants out of their homes and onto the
streets, where the Community Partnership for the Prevention of
Homelessness estimates that 12,700 people already live.
Blanca Aquino and her 6-year-old son, Jose, are two such people. They
were the central characters yesterday. Aquino said they were locked out
of her Columbia Heights apartment after a Jan. 15 fire that displaced 27
others in the building, and they had gone to the homes of friends and
relatives seeking shelter.
"They were going to fix the apartment but nothing has been done,"
Aquino, a native of El Salvador, said yesterday through her friend and
interpreter, Teresa Lopez. "She paid the rent for January," Lopez said
of Aquino. "She's always been a responsible woman. She wants her own
Near her wit's end last week, Aquino said, she spotted a Homes Not Jails
flyer on a tree and decided to attend a meeting. She apparently found
more than a few sympathizers at the meeting Thursday. They vowed to
secure the target house for her, and she agreed to live there, even
though it lacked sewerage and water.
The advocacy group has taken over two other District houses in the past
year. The first house, at 2809 Sherman Ave. NW in Columbia Heights,
ended in the arrests of three members. The second, at 1959 H St. NE in
the Kingman Park neighborhood, has been successful so far, members said.
The group is negotiating with the owner to secure the house and keep a
homeless family inside.
Yesterday, they used the same methods they had tried before. A smaller
group occupied the home before the larger group of protesters arrived.
The occupants caught food and drinks that were tossed up to the second
Iris Arafa watched it all. She had been asked to attend the march days
before, but had been reluctant until a friend convinced her to go.
Arafa, an activist, doesn't like the methods of Homes Not Jails.
She said the group blusters into black and Latino neighborhoods to take
over crumbling houses, but has not done the same in mostly white
neighborhoods. Her complaint had a ring to it. Black residents who live
near the Sherman Avenue property said pretty much the same thing.
In a surprise yesterday, Arafa suddenly turned against Homes Not Jails
when the group reached the targeted house, standing near police officers
and shouting, "I do not support this action."
"I've been out here too long to accept peanuts," she said. "This house
isn't up to code. I don't want any part of this house. If you're going
to [take over a house], give me something that's worth at least as much
as the panda bears got." She meant the $1.8 million pavilion at the
Luke Kuhn of Homes Not Jails was disgusted. "This smacks of a setup," he
said. "The police couldn't do anything more effective themselves. The
pandas have more expensive housing than most yuppies, and it's a
Tom Earing, who said he owns several properties located near the
commotion, called the action a disgrace. "I don't want miscreants living
around here," he said.
David Hill, who lives in one of Earing's properties, said, "What they
don't talk about are the Section 8 tenants who get into these buildings
and tear them up."
"Yeah, tear them the hell up," Earing said. "You give people something
for nothing, and they treat it like nothing."
Ricardo Black, who said he has lived in a rooming house on the verge of
homelessness for years, told both men to back up a second. "I think this
is a good idea," he said. "You have to do something." Black said he
wants to find a job, but can't.
Homes Not Jails had not told anyone where the house was, afraid that
someone might tip off police. In the end, its members tipped off
"Este es loco," said Blanca Aquino, watching it unfold and stating what
some might say was obvious: "This is crazy." Standing in the cold, with
her hands shoved into the pockets of her coat, it looked as though there
was little chance of her getting into the house.
Jose, her son, was confused. He had made a pretend house out of dirt and
three red bricks as he played in the yard. But when police cleared the
area to push back protesters, the boy was forced away.
At that moment, he looked pouty and sad, asking protesters why he
couldn't keep playing. He appeared to be another child in the District
who couldn't even pretend to have a home.
FWD Washington Post - Sunday, February 25, 2001; Page B06
TIME TO HELP THE HOMELESS
Serge Kovaleski and Sewell Chan's Feb. 16 front-page article, "Indicator
Shows D.C. Homelessness Getting Worse," reminds us that a rising tide does
not lift all boats. To the contrary, in a tightreal-estate market and a
growing economy, rents increase faster than wages of low-income workers.
Owners of affordable housing demand more rent because the market will bear
it. Marginal tenants are forced out.
The article's mention of the growing number of women and children seeking
shelter is important. The notion that most homeless persons are undeserving
and antisocial substance abusers is statistically wrong. Even if the
assertion were true, however, as a justification for inaction, it is
In 1999 the Department of Housing and Urban Development estimated that it
cost $40,000 a year to keep someone in jail in New York City, compared with
just $12,500 to provide affordable housing and supportive services.
This nation can't justify -- even in the name of self-interest -- any
person without shelter or food.
**In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is
distributed without charge or profit to those who have expressed a prior
interest in receiving this type of information for non-profit research and
educational purposes only.**
On Thanksgiving day, Washington DC housing activists with a homeless
family occupied a house in Northeast Washington DC to fix it up and make
it permanent housing for the family. A month and a half later they're
still there. http://www.homesnotjails.org Realaudio interview:
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