Public housing is crucial to the fabric of affordable housing in D.C, and is home to 20,000 District residents. After years of disinvestment and delayed maintenance, powerful organizing is needed to ensure DC residents can stay in affordable public housing that is well-maintained and dignified.WIN has engaged in door-knocking and listening sessions in public housing to build the power necessary to ensure residents have a say over the future of their communities. We are fighting for both short-term emergency action and longer term investment and vision:
- 1-for-1 replacement – The District needs all of the affordable housing it can get. No affordable units should be lost in the process of renovation.
- Build First – Build new units first before demolishing old units. This would prevent displacement that has been all too common in the past. Build First allows current tenants to stay in their neighborhoods during renovation and construction.
- Billions of dollars and public land for renovations and new construction. The bill for deferred maintenance has come due, luckily at the time when the District can afford to invest. The District’s financial position is the envy of the world. this is the time to invest in our public housing infrastructure.
- Immediate emergency repairs to stop issues like rodent, pest, and mold infestation, urgent security concerns, and other unsafe conditions.
Public LandWIN envisions the use of public lands for an inclusive and affordable District. Public lands include Reservation 13, a 67-acre parcel of undeveloped land along the Anacostia River, just south of RFK stadium, and other smaller public parcels around the District. Reservation 13 Plans to redevelop Reservation 13 have been in the works for over two decades. A master plan for the parcel’s development, envisioning 3,000 units of housing and surrounding retail, services, parks, and amenities was passed by the DC Council in 2008. Consistent with this plan, WIN proposes:
- 3,000 new units of housing, including:
- 1,000 affordable at <30% AMI (affordable to full-time minimum wage workers)
- 1,000 affordable at 30-60% AMI (affordable to firefighters, nurses, teachers, etc.)
- 1,000 market rate
- Community amenities such as affordable retail, healthcare and recreation facilities, parks and waterfront access.
- Living-wage jobs available for DC residents in construction and at ongoing industries at the parcel. The majority of the jobs created should be filled by District residents, with particular focus on hiring pipelines from high unemployment areas/neighborhoods in the District.
RFK Stadium Parcel
RFK is not currently under the District control. If Reservation 13 and RFK were combined, they would form 250 acres available for an affordable and livable community, accessible to residents of all incomes, with inclusion of affordable housing, community amenities and job opportunities. To prepare for the day the District gets a say over the future of the land, WIN is engaging thousands of residents to hear their priorities for the land.
Other Public, and Available Lands
WIN spent years organizing around Old Hebrew Home in Ward 4 and Temple Courts in Ward 6. With these campaigns, we brought about development plans that will make roughly 1/3 of the total units affordable for our lowest income neighbors, and another 1/3 affordable for our middle class neighbors. We want to replicate that success in all new development at public lands throughout the District, including the Reeves Center on 14th Street and DCHFA headquarters on Florida Ave.
We are also working to identify additional development projects that could unlock non-profit or congregational land for affordable housing through funding and support from the DC government.
Community Safety/Gun ViolenceIn our series of house meetings community safety arose as a key issue of interest. WIN is supporting the Metro IAF Campaign “Do Not Stand Idly By (DNSIB)”. Additionally, WIN is currently engaged in a series of listening sessions in wards 7 and 8 to identify key neighborhoods and issues to address in the coming years. In the current political climate, our immigrant communities are under a great threat whether they are undocumented families facing deportation, TPS residents concerned about their status being renewed, or DREAMers uncertain of their future as students and workers. In 2017, WIN organized a series of listening sessions in immigrant communities around DC and helped found the DC Values Coalition, a collaboration between organizations fighting for immigrant legal aid funding. WIN held actions in 2018 with Ward 1 Councilmember Nadeau and DC Attorney General Racine asking for their support for the funding. In 2019, Mayor Bowser announced that $2.5 million in funding would be included in her proposed 2020 budget, which was approved by the Council. This year, WIN has partnered with the DC Values Coalition once again to speak out at Mayoral Budget Forums and ask for $5 million in funding for immigrant justice legal services.
Despite DC’s economic boom and DC’s recovery from the recession, studies show that Black unemployment in DC remains stubbornly high at 19.5%. In high unemployment zones of the District, like many neighborhoods east of the river and among youth and returning citizens, the rates can be even higher. In addition to high unemployment, the wages of DC’s lowest income workers have been stagnant or falling.Recognizing this disparity, WIN leaders organized hundreds of unemployed and underemployed people and allies and demanded that the $2.7 billion Clean Rivers Project in DC produce jobs for returning citizens and DC residents living in high unemployment neighborhoods. Finally, in 2016, DC Water committed to a goal that 51% of new hires at DC Water would be local DC residents, to contribute $1.25 Million to open job training programs in DC, and to start a national certification for Green Infrastructure work. WIN and Metro IAF organizers in DC are continuing organizing to make local hiring, wages, and benefits, especially in jobs created by public and quasi-public entities, central issues in the District over the coming years.
Transit and privatization (Streetcar and Circulator)In DC, both Circulator Bus and Streetcar are privatized, creating a race to the bottom for wages and benefits for these workers. A successful campaign in 2016 with ATU Local 1764 led to a new 3-year contract for Circulator workers that increased wages, tripled employer contributions to worker 401(k) plans, and ensured that drivers don’t have to operate buses that do not meet safety standards. In 2017, WIN continued organizing with workers at the Circulator and expanded to working with Streetcar workers. Our organizing, alongside ATU Local 689, led to DC Streetcar workers successfully negotiating their first-ever contract that includes up to a $10.15/hour wage increase & drastically improved health insurance.
Our citywide effort to fight privatization of transit also led to a spring 2018 agreement for $500 million a year in dedicated funding for WMATA passed in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. This historic victory provides WMATA with dedicated funding for the first time ever, and it passed without the threatened mandates of a federal control board, privatization, or destruction of frontline workers’ retirement security.