July 21, 2010

Next Week: Tenant Town Hall!

Next week, Bread for the City is co-sponsoring the 3rd annual Tenant Town Hall. On Saturday, July 31, 2010, from 2:30 to 5 pm, at First Trinity Church (309 E St NW), we'll join with tenants from across the city to talk to elected officials and government agencies to talk about housing needs and solutions.

According to the Latino Economic Development Corporation (LEDC), the Tenant Town Hall is "a welcoming space for tenants in the District of Columbia to come together to talk about tenant rights and the preservation of affordable housing in their neighborhoods."

There have, in fact, been a number of recent successes to celebrate. LEDC explains: "In response to tenant demands, DCRA in November 2009 created a proactive housing code inspections program to prevent tenant displacement and improve housing conditions. During the program’s initial pilot phase, 4,074 housing code violations were cited at 264 buildings citywide – resulting in $30,500 in fines levied against landlords."

Another important part of the agenda is discussion of the new housing conditions docket in D.C. Superior Court, which enables tenants to sue their landlords for bad conditions. This is actually a proposal that originated as a demand from tenants the first Tenant Town Hall in 2008. For the past two years, this demand was fought for -- and won -- by tenants and advocates and lawyers (BFC Lord High Legal Director Vytas V Vergeer prominent among them). Now that the docket has been successfully established, the Town Hall will foster discussion about how it can be used and how it can be improved.

Between that and discussion about the city's worsening lack of funding for affordable housing (a conversation that is heating up these days), this is sure to be a busy and heated event.

Confirmations have been received from Councilmembers (including Ward One's Jim Graham and staff from At-Large Michael Brown's office) and heads of housing-related agencies.

This event is also co-sponsored by ONE DC, Empower DC, Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, Legal Aid Society of DC, Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center, AARP Legal Counsel for the Elderly, and tenant associations from across DC.

For more information about the Tenant Town Hall, email Anna Duncan or call 202-540-7419.

Photos courtesy LEDC.

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