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Issues & Victories

Housing



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

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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



Metro IAF NY Wins Federal Judicial Oversight to Ensure Real Cleanup of Mold by NYCHA

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS- DEC 16

The City Housing Authority is about to come under judicial oversight to erase one of its worst plagues — creeping mold in aging apartments, the Daily News has learned. The city signed off on a consent decree Monday that will give a federal judge the ability to ensure the New York City Housing Authority finally eradicates the longstanding and dangerous condition.

The federal court intervention is seen as a game-changer in the battle to reform NYCHA’s inability to tackle an issue that affects hundreds of tenants citywide.The residents have waited in vain, sometimes for years, for NYCHA to answer requests to clean up toxic mold. Often the work was useless, with the agency painting over the mold without fixing the leak that caused it. Now, with the power of a federal court behind them, tenants and their attorneys can for the first time go directly to a judge to impose significant financial penalties on NYCHA if it doesn’t get the job done right.

Over the past year, the Metro Industrial Areas Foundation, a civic group, has threatened to file suit charging the city has for years violated the Americans With Disabilities Act by housing hundreds of tenants with asthma in mold-infested units. The Monday settlement will allow a Manhattan federal judge to monitor NYCHA’s promised improvements over the next three years. 

Most important for tenants, the agreement makes mold abatement NYCHA’s top priority, with the agency committing to remedy all mold conditions — including the underlying leaky pipes — within 15 days of receiving a complaint. NYCHA must then follow up within 60 days to make sure the work was done correctly and to ensure mold and moisture “have been eliminated entirely.”

“This agreement is long in coming,” declared tenant Maribel Baez, whose asthma has been aggravated for years by mold in her Marlboro Houses apartment in Brooklyn. “My hope is that (with) Metro IAF, our lawyers and a federal court all keeping NYCHA and the city accountable, conditions for me and my fellow tenants will begin to improve.”

 



EBC and NYCHA Leaders Take Action

More than 450 NYCHA tenants and leaders gathered at Our Lady of Mercy last night to say, as Nancy Baptiste from St. Paul put it, "Enough!"  The room was electric with anger and energy.   

Father Mason began by putting our fight to clean up NYCHA in the context of a larger 35-year struggle to rebuild our neighborhoods.  We've made great progress but we are not finished yet.  

Leader after leader testified about moldy ceilings, huge leaky holes, giant water bugs, and the damage these cause to their health.  "My apartment is making me sick," said Tawana Myers, who is recovering from two open-heart surgeries.  "Let me breathe.  Get some people to my apartment and my neighbors' apartments and start making the repairs."

Michell Hernandez, a young leader from Mercy, held up her family's nebulizer machine that she, her father and mother must use to breathe at night because the mold is so thick in their apartment.  She implored NYCHA to stop using paint to treat their mold.  "If my apartment were a patient at a hospital run by the New York City Housing Authority, it would be dead. Dead."  Get in there, she added, and find the source of the leak and treat it properly.

Reverend Bachus recalled with anger at witnessing a member of Mt. Ollie have an asthma attack at church.  "You're health should not be determined by the address that you are from.  But it is for many people who live in NYCHA."

You could feel the tension as Carlos Laboy-Diaz approached the microphone. Laboy-Diaz is NYCHA's VP for Operations and supervises the borough directors, including Brooklyn's Philip Calandrillo.  Reverend Brawley and Nyginer Brewer laid it out to Laboy-Diaz clearly:  this is a test and it's pass or fail.  To pass, you've got to commit to make the more than 400 repairs that we have spent weeks documenting and investigating, and too many years living.  

Laboy-Diaz quickly withdrew into NYCHA babble about how much progress they've made over the last year. Reverend Brawley cut him off, "You're not answering our question.  You've failed the first test.  Let's start over."  The back and forth continued for almost 10 minutes until finally Laboy-Diaz begrudgingly agreed to stop the leaks, repairs the walls, paint the living rooms and send the exterminators to almost 150 apartments.  

Laboy-Diaz has made commitments like this before to our allies at South Bronx Churches and then failed to deliver.  It's up to us to make him and Calandrillo follow through.  Next Monday, we'll lead a joint tour of a handful of these apartments so they can see first hand what tenants are living with.

Both teams -- the one up front and the larger one throughout the church -- did an excellent job together.  We had a good mix of new and veteran leaders and churches, and great anger and energy.  Congratulations to everyone who has spent the last 6 months meeting other church and school members; organizing house meetings and listening sessions; and finding scores of talented leaders willing to do the work to continue the rebuilding.




VOICE victories in Foreclosure and Affordable Housing

Virginians Organizing for interfaith Community Engagement’s Bank & Foreclosure Accountability Campaign secured $30 million in commitments for VOICE's Prince William Restoration Fund from Bank of America, General Electric, and VAHousing Development Authority (VHDA). The fund will support a pilot that would (1) rehab 100 abandoned / blighted properties in neighborhoods devastated by foreclosure for affordable homeownership & rental housing, and (2) allow for the development of 1,500 units of rental housing over the next 15 years in Northern Virginia for families. VOICE announced the commitments at 500+person action in Woodbridge, VA with Senator Mark Warner and representatives from Bank ofAmerica, General Electric,and VHDA. When JPMorgan refused to participate in the restoration fund, VOICE organized a direct action at their DC Private Banking Offices with 60 leaders. We’ll be focused like a laser on JPMorgan in 2014. VOICE's pioneering  work has garnered significant national media coverage by USA Today, CNN, and the Washington Post.

VOICE organized and helped secure a zoning variance for 77 new affordable housing units being created on land owned by ArlingtonPartnership for Affordable Housing (APAH). Off of this successful effort VOICE launched an Arlington Affordable Housing Campaign at an action with 550 leaders to get Arlington County to build 1,500 new affordable rental units for families making less than $50,000/year on public and non-profit owned land in the next 3-5 years.

VOICE organized a 250-person One Reston Walk where VOICE leaders and Crescent Apartments tenants got Board of Supervisors Chairperson Bulova and Supervisor Hudgins to support tenants with their goal of returning to the redeveloped complex. In Fairfax City, VOICE organized with Layton Hall tenants to successfully get the city council to require a developer to provide more generous relocation assistance to 110 tenants and include 5% affordable units in the redeveloped complex. This is the first time Fairfax City has imposed affordable housing requirements on developers.



NYC Metro IAF affiliates win commitment for $10 million in public housing security upgrades

After an extensive campaign documenting safety and health hazards in New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) developments, Metro IAF NYC affiliates successfully pushed Mayor Bloomberg and the director of the housing authority to install security cameras in 85 of the most dangerous housing developments, as well as other security upgrades representing a $10 million investment.



BUILD organizes to rebuild East Baltimore

With TRF Development Partners, BUILD organizes to rebuild East Baltimore. In the worst housing market since the Great Depression, BUILD continues to rebuild the Oliver Community located in East Baltimore. 40 homes have been constructed, fully occupied. 20 are under construction. 




EBC build new neighborhoods and schools in East Brooklyn.

In the Spring Nehemiah Development, EBC leaders will build 1525 affordable homes and develop two new small quality schools.




Lake County United wins 70 affordable senior homes north of Chicago

Lake County United has supported Mercy Housing Lakefront’s proposal for 70 units of affordable senior housing in Grayslake.  Lake County United was pivotal in the building’s original planning with our active community leadership inspiring Mercy to come to Lake County and to include a 25% set aside of units for seniors with special needs in the project.  We then helped Mercy secure rental subsidies from the Lake County Housing Authority, tax credit financing from the Illinois Housing Development Authority, worked closely with them to develop local support for the project from Grayslake residents and clergy in order to secure the final zoning approval for the project from the Grayslake Zoning Board of Appeals and Village Board.  Vocal “Not In My Back Yard” opposition slowed the process down, but after a final approval vote in early July, Mercy now expects to break ground in early October 2011.



AIM (Montgomery County, MD) celebrates $224 million in Affordable Housing Victories.

 

Since 2003, AIM has secured $224 million in county investment in affordable housing.   The affordable housing funds have been used to build or refurbish over 5,000 units of for sale, senior, rental and disability housing throughout the county.  10% of the funds are allocated for homelessness prevention programs.  

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BUILD develops 69 affordable artist lofts in downtown Baltimore.

 

With TRF Development Partners, BUILD helps develop City Arts Building, 69 affordable artists lofts:

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NYC region affiliates celebrate 30 years of victories

In February, 2011, more than 1300 people from East Brooklyn Congregations, South Bronx Churches, Manhattan Together, Empowered Queens United in Action and Leadership, Long Island Associations, Congregations and Neighborhoods, and New Jersey Together gathered to celebrate our thirty years of accomplishments, including:

  • The construction of more than 4000 Nehemiah affordable homes in Eastern Brooklyn and the South Bronx
  • $500 million in environmental clean up in New Jersey
  • The founding of four new public high schools, two charter schools and the construction of the $220 million Mott Haven campus in Eastern Brooklyn, Queens and the South Bronx
  • $60 million in parks restoration in lower Manhattan

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WIN builds nearly 400 units of affordable housing in DC.

 

WIN built Dupont Commons, a 147-unit for-purchase, affordable housing development for residents with incomes between $15,000 – $60,000, and partnered with Catholic Charities to create the Summit at St. Martin’s Apartments, a 178-unit affordable apartment complex.  WIN is in the final stages of construction for Eden Place, a 63-unit Nehemiah affordable housing development.  DC is one of the most expensive housing markets in the nation, and these projects stabilize the neighborhood for long-time residents.


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In the News


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...


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...


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...


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...


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...


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...


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