May 3, 2011

"As long as we have the Wilson Building, I won't be homeless."

This afternoon, the Committee on Housing and Workforce Development has a stellar budget hearing line-up: Housing Finance Agency, Department of Housing and Community Development, and DC Housing Authority. As we've talked about before, the proposed DC budget for 2012 includes major cuts to crucial affordable housing programs. The Local Rent Supplement Program, Housing First, and Housing Production Trust Fund are being slashed, on top of devastating cuts to homeless services. These cuts will make it even harder for families already struggling to find or maintain affordable housing in DC.

But the City Council can still restore the funding. We need to tell our elected officials that affordable housing is a priority for DC residents, and we won’t accept these cuts! Make your voice heard with the Continuum of Housing Campaign and housing allies from around the city this evening at 6pm at the Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Ave NW.

Last week, I talked to Blache McLeod about the housing cuts. She did finance work as a DC government employee before she got injured and couldn’t work. She’s now on SSI because of her disability. She gets a home health aide for five hours a day, to help with her daily activities and keep her out of a nursing home, and she lives in subsidized housing. Here’s a little bit of what she had to say about the budget cuts:

They are dismissing us because of our economic status. If my rent was not subsidized, I would have to pay $1800 a month. I get $674 from SSI! That’s all I’ve got to work with. It makes me angry that they don’t think about the consequences.

We’re going down individually to beg them, “Save my program?” Instead, we need to go together, and this time we’re not begging. They understand the cameras. They understand the media. We have to let them know, “I don’t like what you’re doing.”

I am here. There’s not a day I’m not in pain, but I am not riding away into the sunset. I’ll be down there every day, in my pajamas, with my overnight bag. As long as we have the Wilson Building, I won’t be homeless. I may be the only one down there, but I won’t stop.

It may not be a lot of us, but once people start to see and hear, they’ll come out. A lot of people don’t watch the news, so they don’t know. You’ve got to get on the internet and hear what’s going on, and then starting talking. You have to come out.

Each of us has a little piece of the puzzle. Our voices need to be heard. We have to fight.

Join Ms. McLeod and Bread for the City staff and clients at the Wilson Building this evening from 6:00 - 7:00 pm. If you can, bring your blankets and a pillow to remind the City Council that if some of our residents don’t have a safe place to sleep tonight. It’s at 1350 Pennsylavnia Ave NW, close to the Federal Triangle and Metro Center stations, and on the 30 bus lines.

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