[Hpn] Homes Not Jails DC - 3 ARRESTED at SQUAT of abandoned HUD housing (fwd)

Tom Boland wgcp@earthlink.net
Tue, 27 Feb 2001 22:23:33 -0800 (PST)

Homes Not Jails DC mailing list http://www.homesnotjails.org/mailman/listinfo/hnj-dc-list FWD January 18, 2001 - Washington, D.C. USA REPLY TO: "Homes Not Jails DC" <HNJ-DC@homesnotjails.org> Contacts: Jennifer Kirby 202-297-4430 or 202-332-6558 Nadine Green 202-285-0023 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. _____ http://washingtonpost.com:80/wp-dyn/articles/A59644-2001Feb26.html FWD Washington Post / Tuesday, February 27, 2001; Page B03 THE DISTRICT 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 embarrassing act. As night fell, police left, said advocates, who then moved in and started renovations. 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 home." 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 floor. 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 National Zoo. 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 prison." 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 officers themselves. "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. ***** http://washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A49613-2001Feb24.html 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 fiscally shortsighted. 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. JERRY LEEDOM Springfield END FORWARD **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.** ONLINE INFO 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: http://dc.indymedia.org/display.php3?article_id=4348 Homes Not Jails DC List <hnj-dc-list.homesnotjails.org> List-Archive: http://www.homesnotjails.org/pipermail/hnj-dc-list/ To subscribe send a message with subject or body 'help' to hnj-dc-list-request@homesnotjails.org http://www.homesnotjails.org/mailman/listinfo/hnj-dc-list Visit HPN for CONSTANTLY UPDATING NEWS on Homeless People: *************************************************************** Over 10,000 articles by or via homeless & ex-homeless people Been Homeless? Then JOIN! EMAIL Tom Boland <wgcp@earthlink.net> Nothing About Us Without Us - Democratize Public Policy ***************************************************************