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Issues & Victories

Housing



WIN Hits Milestone in Getting 150 Units of Housing on Public Land

Washington Interfaith Network in DC is celebrating the selection of a developer to build 150 units of affordable housing at 1125 Spring Road NW/Old Hebrew Home. WIN has been involved in the fight to redevelop this public land as needed affordable housing since 2009. The work is not done; WIN will organize neighbors to speak in support during upcoming zoning hearings and push for the city subsidy the project requires. Read more about the organizing leading up to the selection in the Washington City Paper here.



AIM Celebrates Victory in Tackling Toxic Mold, Replacement of 4,100 Apartment Windows Begins

Northwest Park Residents and AIM Organizer, Katie Ashmore, celebrate installment of new windows

After two years of fighting for better living conditions, residents of the Northwest Park apartment complex in Silver Spring celebrated the beginning of the replacement of 4,100 windows in the 75-building complex. Action in Montgomery and the property’s mostly immigrant tenants won a $2 million agreement with property management to replace the windows due to toxic mold issues that have caused asthma in some of the tenants’ children. The project will take four years to complete.



Lake County United Wins 19 Acres to Build Affordable Housing

LCU leaders gather to evaluate after the Warren Township meeting

On July 10th Lake County United leaders turned out and voted at the Warren Township Special meeting in favor of the Township selling 19 acres of vacant land, which allows Lake County United to pursue a plan to build 150 units of affordable housing.



Durham CAN Delivers Big on Affordable Housing

At the public demand of Durham CAN, the Durham City Council on Monday night awarded a $4 million grant that will allow the Durham Housing Authority to purchase Fayette Place, twenty acres of vacant and blighted land also known as Fayetteville Street Housing Project. The Housing Authority, and Campus Apartments, a Philadelphia based for-profit company which currently owns the land, have agreed to close on the deal no later than June 16th.

Since 2009, the land has remained vacant of everything but the foundations of a former public housing complex. Through careful research, CAN leaders uncovered and made public that the Durham Housing Authority had the option to buy back the land by August 6, 2017, given that contract conditions hadn't been met. Weeks after a 250-person press conference organized by Durham CAN at the site, the Durham Housing Authority declared Campus Apartments in default of the contract, beginning the process of reacquiring the land. During the most recent action attended by 560 people in April, CAN leaders secured commitments from Durham City officials to finance the purchase.



The Anti-Violence Strategy That Will Work

Rafi Peterson, Southwest Organizing Project
Dennis Ryan, Southwest Organizing Project
Nick Brunick, United Power for Action and Justice

As bullets fly and bodies drop in our city, there is much talk about how to curb the casualty count and reclaim our streets and communities.

While many decent people and groups are trying a wide range of approaches, we know of only one sure way to stop the mayhem.  Thursday evening, May 25th, we celebrated that solution, on the southwest side of the city, not far from the shooting galleries that several nearby neighborhoods have become.

It might surprise people to learn that the solution is not another city program, or social service expansion, or therapeutic response.  These services are needed but not sufficient.  We respect those who propose and implement these responses.  But our neighborhoods are laced with multiple programs and agencies.  Yet the guns keep blazing, and the young keep dying.

Thursday evening, leaders from United Power for Action and Justice and its southwest side affiliate, the Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP) celebrated the completion of the first phase of an effort to rebuild the southwest side and the start of the second phase.   After several years, during which a hundred units have been renovated, we have seen striking results.  Crime is down 50%.  The two local schools in the immediate area, Morrill and Fairfield, have improved their performance -- rising from low Level 3 CPS rankings to Level 2 and Level 2+.  The school just south of the area, Marquette, has gone from Level 3 to Level 1+.  Local private contractors have followed our lead and bought and renovated other buildings in the area.

In other words, this portion of the southwest side is approaching a state of normalcy -- is being made whole.  The naysayers will say that this proves nothing, but they would be wrong.  Thirty years ago, in a community more devastated and more violent than the southwest side, community and religious leaders came together, raised funds, and began rebuilding an entire neighborhood of 300,000 souls.  The group was called East Brooklyn Congregations, the sister organization of the IAF affiliate in Cook County, United Power for Action and Justice.  Since then, EBC has built more than 4,000 homes and 2,000 apartments.  It has spearheaded the complete reconstruction of a community as hard-pressed as Englewood or the Back of the Yards.  The murder rate has fallen from a city wide high of 2,250 to a modern low of 350 -- an astonishing drop that continues.  New school campuses have been built, not closed.  New families have flooded in, not flooded out.  All the buyers and renters have been working class African Americans and Hispanics, many who lived in or near the area, not gentrifiers.

In other words, an area as large as the entire south or west sides of Chicago has been returned to a state of normalcy.  An incoming New York police chief, Ben Ward, was once asked what was the most effective crime-prevention strategy of the NYPD.  He said: "That's easy;  the Nehemiah homes."

Rebuilding and renovating every single home and building, block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood, is the way to stop the violence in Chicago.

On a practical level, it removes the space that criminals can use to stash drugs, lie in wait on their enemies, or hide from police.

It conveys to all existing neighbors that there is hope -- that the area is moving up, not down.  And it retains those working families that we need to make our city thrive.

It communicates to the police and other public servants that these neighborhoods are not lost causes, that they deserve to be protected and preserved, that the risks they take in doing so have purpose.

It creates blue collar jobs in the construction and renovation work and more blue collar jobs later -- shop keepers for stores for new residents, lawn service workers for those who need that service, locksmiths and others who help secure the new homes and buildings.

It delivers what every person in our fair city deserves – safe streets, an affordable home, and decent schools.

We know that this approach -- long term, deliberate, led by the parents and seniors and youth of local congregations and schools, grinding out gain after gain after gain, without the benefit of a long touchdown pass -- is not attractive to those who seek (or claim) a quick fix and magic solution.

But this is the way to rebuild Chicago.  The only impediment is private sector support to speed the work up and start on the west side as we continue to turn the southwest side around.

Read more about it here:

https://www.wbez.org/shows/wbez-updates/southwest-side-group-sees-neighborhood-reversal/0705199d-2123-4476-8b5b-7fb03378078d

http://chicagotonight.wttw.com/2017/05/26/community-initiative-reclaim-southwest-chicago-expands



UrbanMatters to Build 100 Units of Affordable Housing in DC

WIN is very excited about an upcoming development by UrbanMatters Development Partners L.L.C., WIN's affiliated housing development company. UrbanMatters collaborated with Progressive National Baptist Convention, and Atlantic | Pacific Companies to help plan and propose more needed affordable housing in DC. When completed, the project located at Nannie Helen Burroughs Avenue, will provide 100 units of housing for those earning up to 60% of the median area income, and pave the way for continued redevelopment of the area.

http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/100_affordable_apartments_on_nannie_helen_burroughs/12442



Washington Interfaith Network: Victory in Fight for Short Term Family Housing

WIN leaders packed local community meetings and a board of zoning hearing winning approval for the construction of 3 “short term housing” facilities (a more dignified term than family shelter).  On Wednesday April 5th, the DC Board of Zoning Adjustment unanimously voted to approve the zoning variances and exceptions for the construction of short term family housing in wards 3 and 5! This vote is a major milestone in the effort to close the dilapidated DC General Family Shelter, and helps the city to more equally share the responsibility for caring for the most vulnerable among us. With this vote, zoning has been approved in all six facilities going under construction, and the next step forward is breaking ground!



Lake County United Celebrates Completion of Fairhaven Crossing

Lake County United identified the land, secured the site, established a development team, and built the community support for a 40-unit affordable housing complex in Mundelein, IL. Over 300 Lake County United leaders gathered to celebrate the opening of Fairhaven Crossing, which will give everyone, including residents with disabilities, the opportunity to live as independently as possible.  The unit includes a community center and computer room.



Washington Interfaith Network (WIN) members fight to make DC a city that works for ALL its residents

WIN leaders packed local community meetings and a board of zoning hearing to support the construction of 3 “short term housing” facilities (a more dignified term than shelter).  DC with its high cost of living has some of the highest rates of homelessness in the nation especially for families with children.  This brings WIN one step closer to success in a 4-year campaign to close and replace the dilapidated DC General Family Shelter with smaller and safer facilities spread throughout the district.

Listen to the testimony of Mrs. Barnett who lives at DC General shelter with her husband and three young children.

Mrs. Barnett Testimony about Short Term Family Housing



UrbanMatters Completing Final Affordable Housing Units at Eden Place

UrbanMatters, an affordable housing development company co-founded by Washington Interfaith Network (WIN), is in the final stages of completing the last five units for Eden Place Phase I, a 29 unit Nehemiah home community in Washington, DC. Eden Place is comprised of 3 and 4 bedroom townhomes sold at affordable rates to first time home buyers, and is the result of a seven year long fight by WIN to get a blighted and abandoned property revitalized.



Durham CAN Wins Campaign on Affordable Housing on City Owned Lot in Downtown Durham

Durham CAN leaders demanded and won public agreement from the Durham City Council for the construction of affordable housing at a publicly owned lot located next to the Durham Station Transportation Center. At least 80% of the units built in this lot will be affordable to families at 60% AMI or below.  City Council Moves Forward with Mix-Income Project



Action In Montgomery (AIM) - A Year of Fighting in Northwest Park Results in Victory with Big Housing Improvements

Seeking redress for deplorable conditions in their apartments, tenants of Northwest Park spent the last year organizing to hold Kay Management accountable for reoccurring mold and persistent problems with rodents, bed bugs and cockroaches that have triggered or exacerbated asthma conditions. After the discovery of over 2,000 housing violations, tenants have worked to get a number of improvements, the latest of which was a commitment from Kay Management to replace all of the windows in the complex over the next four years and overhaul their policy for preventing and remediating mold.



Metro Affordable Housing Track Record



WIN Celebrates 39 New Affordable Apartment Homes

Displaying RC RC.jpg

On September 25, Urban Matters/WIN celebrated the grand opening of Eastbrooke, 39 Affordable Apartment Homes in Ward # 7 near Beulah Baptist.

Mr. Ray Nix is doing just a spectacular job developing quality housing and leading Urban Matters, which is now recognized in DC & MD as a top flight development firm.
 
Mayor Bowser and Councilmember Alexander attended the grand opening along with 50+ WIN leaders and Ward # 7 residents.



Orange County Justice United Wins Tenant Rights

Justice United leaders mobilized tenants throughout Orange County to attend three bi-lingual Fair Housing workshops and collaborate on a Bill of Rights with the UNC Legal Assistance Clinic and the County Human Relations Commission.

The resulting “Declaration of Tenants’ Rights and Responsibilities” includes a Resource Guide to help tenants find redress. JU leaders successfully petitioned the Towns of Carrboro and Chapel Hill, and the Orange County Board of Commissioners to endorse the Declaration. The Declaration has special importance in Carrboro and Chapel Hill, where a respective 64% and 52% of the total housing units are tenant occupied.

Over 150 low-income tenants were directly affected by this action. Thousands of area tenants now have documentation of their rights and responsibilities, including notation of the state statute that requires landlords to provide safe, habitable housing. Local governments heard from tenants about many of the issues they are facing, as a result, they will now be better able to assist tenants with ongoing issues and concerns.

Read more from Chapel Hill News

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In the News


Brownsville tenants team with developers and community to change their lives

Friday, February 25, 2011
NY Daily News

Jacqueline (Jackie) Melendez had enough. The elevators didn’t work, and she complained. But it was more than that. Melendez had an 8-month-old, and a 3-year-old battling leukemia. Living on the ninth floor of the Riverdale Osborne Towers in Brownsville, steps from the Rockaway Ave. 2/3 subway, Melendez had to take the working elevator in the building next door to the top floor, climb to the roof and walk across to her building, and down a flight of stairs with two children in her arms, just to arrive at her front door. “Here I was with a child in chemotherapy, praying when I walked into my building that the elevator would work,” says Melendez. “I should have been praying for my son to live. Something wasn’t right...”


Bland residents, city officials reach accord

Thursday, September 30, 2010
Washington Post

Current and former James Bland housing residents thanked the Alexandria City Council and the city's housing authority for resolving their relocation issues after a year of protests and meetings.

The residents, along with Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement, or VOICE, stood before the council at its meeting Saturday and declared a victory for the 180 residents of the 8.5-acre public housing community in the Braddock East area, which is being developed into a $55 million mixed-use property with market-rate and affordable homes...


2 Sides Clash at City Hall Over Domino Housing Plan

Tuesday, June 22, 2010
New York Times

By some standards, a developer’s plan to transform the defunct Domino Sugar refinery north of the Williamsburg Bridge in Brooklyn is a good deal, offering 660 of its planned 2,200 apartments to poor and working-class New Yorkers, shops to animate the streets and a public esplanade along the East River. “We’re taking this narrow, vacant industrial site and turning it into an incredibly powerful economic engine for the neighborhood,” said the developer, Michael Lappin, president of the Community Preservation Corporation...


Legislation gives mobile-home owners protection if land is sold

Thursday, June 17, 2010
Washington Post

For years, Amy Lamke's answer to her affordable housing dilemma was bouncing with her daughter, Katlin, from one place to another, sharing space with strangers whom she met through classified ads.

But when she discovered Deep Run, a community of mobile homes tucked away off a two-lane road near Route 1 in Elkridge, in Howard County, Lamke figured she had found the stability she and her daughter had longed for...


Old-Fashioned Bulwark in a Tide of Foreclosures

Wednesday, May 5, 2010
New York Times

TO walk the streets of Brownsville and East New York, Brooklyn, is to see neighborhoods ravaged by foreclosure, homes boarded up and marshals’ notices taped to doors. Yet in the midst of this pain sit several swaths of well-tended homes, about 3,000 in all, each with a driveway and statuary and garden. Not one of their owners has lost a home.

Five miles away in Jamaica, Queens, another neighborhood hammered by foreclosures, there remain blocks where not one house has been put up for auction in the current crisis...


Officials show support for Common Ground fight against foreclosure

Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

As part of a campaign aimed at getting banks to do more about vacant and foreclosed homes, state Rep. Jon Richards (D-Milwaukee) said Tuesday that he has introduced a bill that would prohibit state agencies from contracting with financial institutions that own 100 or more foreclosed residential properties in the state. And Milwaukee Ald. Michael Murphy said he was researching what leverage the city might have in getting banks to take on more responsibility in the city's foreclosure crisis. The two gave their pledges of support Monday night before a fired-up crowd of more than 300 members of the new broad-based organization, Common Ground, which met to open a "faces of foreclosure" campaign...


Low-Cost Brooklyn Housing Sees Few Foreclosures

Thursday, October 22, 2009
NPR

Yvonne Ziegler had an apartment in a central Brooklyn housing project and a decent job in an office. But like a lot of New Yorkers, she figured she'd be renting forever. Owning a place seemed beyond the realm of possibility. Thanks to the Nehemiah project, a church-run affordable housing program, Ziegler now owns a trim, neatly maintained three-bedroom house, where she lives with her elderly mother in the Brooklyn neighborhood known as East New York. The program has built more than 4,000 houses in Brooklyn and the Bronx since the 1980s...


Battling Foreclosure's Blight

Saturday, May 23, 2009
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

When homes are boarded up and taken over by the bank, the neighbors know well the decay, crime and danger that can follow. Seven years ago the Greater New Birth Church built a new house of worship that's a bright and sturdy structure on the corner of N. 22nd and W. Center streets. The needs for food, jobs and counseling have remained the same for the church, which was designed to serve the low-income Amani neighborhood, youth pastor Willie Davis said. What has changed, he said, is the growing foreclosure crisis that's cast a shadow over the neighborhood. More and more homes have been boarded up and abandoned, left to decay and serve as magnets for crime, vandalism and growing fears for those who remain...


Fairfax tenement restores alarms, extinguishers

Monday, April 6, 2009
Washington Examiner

The squalid Vista Gardens apartment complex has corrected “over 80 percent” of the more than 700 fire code violations issued in a Fairfax County crackdown last month, including those for the widespread lack of fire alarms, a fire department spokesman said Monday.

The apartments, which sit in the Culmore community near Falls Church off Leesburg Pike, were the subject of an intense investigation by building code, health and fire officials after pressure from the community brought elected leaders into action...


Five new homes dedicated in Oliver

Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Baltimore Sun

First dwellings built there in half-century.

The first new homes to be built in a half-century in East Baltimore's Oliver neighborhood were dedicated yesterday, a sign of progress, officials said, in a blighted swath of the city once notorious for drug dealing.

As a result of a unique public-private partnership, vacant houses were demolished and land was assembled to build 75 homes for low- to moderate-income homebuyers. Another 47 homes will be rehabilitated, all within a six-square-block area just north of Johns Hopkins Hospital...


Boarded-up houses make way for roses

Saturday, July 12, 2008
Baltimore Sun

Drug dealers ousted, Oliver community plants gardens.

An urban oasis is rising from the rubble of vacant rowhouses in East Baltimore. Cherry trees and dogwoods have been staked into new dirt. Beds of sedum, rose, sage and yarrow have been planted. Wood-chip walkways wind through lots neighbors once feared to enter.

Hard against the old stone wall of Green Mount Cemetery, two new gardens are part of a movement by Oliver residents to reclaim their neighborhood. They got police to clear drug dealers from a courtyard, and neighbors now gather there for lunch. They lobbied the city to tear down a dozen vacant houses to make way for the gardens, which were planted this week...


Seeds of renewal in Oliver

Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Baltimore Sun

With new houses, residents and activists aim to weed out dealers, pull in families.

A crowd gathered yesterday afternoon on the crumbling steps of a boarded-up rowhouse in East Baltimore. Their attention focused across the street, where construction workers using an 80-foot crane were assembling the first new houses in the Oliver neighborhood in half a century.

The people had never seen such a sight - not here, not in this blighted community where one survey puts the vacancy rate at 44 percent and where drugs and crime have chased out most of the middle class. Construction of new townhouses happens along the waterfront, these people said, not in Oliver...
 


Renewal planned for area

Sunday, December 9, 2007
Baltimore Sun

$10 million raised for rehab in E. Baltimore.

On Broadway, on the eastern edge of the Oliver community, a line of boarded-up homes stands testament to years of neglect. The exposed wood on one is charred, the remnants of a long-ago fire never cleaned up.

"These are such nice homes, and they've been left to rot," said Rob English, lead organizer for the social action group BUILD, which is targeting the East Baltimore neighborhood for a major renewal campaign. "The blight in Oliver has been created by 35 years of disinvestment."...
 


Putting Faith in Affordable Housing

Saturday, June 23, 2007
Washington Post

Nearly three decades after Washington area faith leaders founded a movement for affordable housing, there is a new push -- particularly in the District -- to revive the effort and get the clergy to see housing as an urgent mission field.

Longtime advocates say houses of worship should be obvious allies because of the desperate need in the city, and for another reason: their land. Churches in particular own tens of millions of dollars in vacant properties in Washington. Some lots were donated by congregants; others were purchased methodically, for investment or for developing housing, among other reasons...


Affordable dreams in the South Bronx

Thursday, December 4, 1997
NY Daily News

Mary Martinez' life has changed dramatically from four years ago, when she lived with broken elevators and urine-soaked hallways in the Mitchell Houses project in the South Bronx.
"My daughter and I are more at ease," said Martinez, who bought a single-family home on Eagle Ave. "Theresa can now jump rope or swim in a little pool in our backyard. If it wasn't for the Nehemiah Homes . . . [offering] a price that I can afford as a a single parent, I don't think I would be able to have a home."


The security and pride Martinez have are the goals of many other prospective homeowners, who gathered yesterday in a rock-and-rubble-strewn lot in Mott Haven...


South Bronx Churches Will Expand Affordable Housing

Thursday, December 4, 1997
New York Times

Although she owns a four-story building with a park view, Zoraida Burgos said she has not enjoyed looking out her window in the last 30 years. Too often, her view of St. Mary's Park is marred by prostitutes, gang members, drug dealers and abandoned buildings.

But things may soon change for the better for Ms. Burgos, who lives on Beach Terrace between Beekman and Crimmins Avenues. The South Bronx Churches, an alliance of neighborhood congregations, nonprofit local agencies and tenant and homeowner groups that has built 512 affordable homes and housing units in the neighborhood, announced yesterday that it plans to build 240 units of affordable housing on the 16 or so empty lots primarily south of the park by early next year...


Housing Pact Is Reached For Brooklyn

Tuesday, October 6, 1992
New York Times

The Dinkins administration and a group of churches and homeowners' associations in Brooklyn have reached an agreement in principle that will allow the group to build as many as 1,300 single-family houses for lower-middle-class families previously unable to buy their own homes. The agreement, which calls for the construction of 700 to 800 rowhouses west of Pennsylvania Avenue in East New York, was reached last week and will be formally announced later this week, city officials said yesterday. The area is now one of the most impoverished and crime-racked in the city. Another 500 houses are to be built about a mile away in the Spring Creek section...


When a Bank is Too Big to Hide

Huffington Post

After months of trying, David confronts Goliath tomorrow in Frankfurt, Germany, at the annual shareholders meeting of the world's second largest bank. David is otherwise known as Common Ground, an upstart, feisty, two-year old community organizing endeavor spanning four counties in southeast Wisconsin, including Milwaukee. Goliath is Deutsche Bank (Assets: $3.23 trillion), founded in 1870, about the same time that thousands of German immigrants were streaming into Milwaukee and turning it into a prosperous beer-making and manufacturing center...


A working and middle class community is rising in East Brooklyn

NY Daily News

New York is pushing toward construction of a working- and middle-class community with solid, affordable houses, parkland and easy access to shopping. Just what this city needs. The project is located in East New York, Brooklyn, out by the Belt Parkway and not far from Starrett City. It's a complex undertaking involving a developer, the city and the dedicated folks of the Nehemiah housing program...


No home for the holidays

Washington Post

Martha Holmes's small, frail body often bumps into things in her new apartment, which seems like a maze to the 87-year-old woman with Alzheimer's disease. In the last month, she has been hospitalized twice, and police have found her wandering the streets, attempting to walk back to the public housing apartment in Alexandria that she called home for more than 40 years.

Now living in Ladrey, a public senior-housing building five blocks away, Holmes is among those at the center of a dispute between James Bland public housing residents who say they are being disregarded and housing authorities who say the residents are uncooperative and antagonistic to development plans...


Banks vow cooperation on foreclosures

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Banks say they'll work with community advocates, agree to maintain vacant properties. Representatives of five of the nation's leading banks told a crowd of 1,100 Sunday that they would work with the advocacy group Common Ground to deal with Milwaukee's foreclosure crisis, including maintaining vacant land and boarded-up properties. The banks' response was much different a year ago, when Common Ground, then a new community organization, launched an initiative to hold major banks accountable for the mounting foreclosure crisis that has helped to depress Milwaukee's housing market...


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