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David Mann’s article about Homes Not Jails (“Home Repo,” 3/30) is full of inaccuracies and omits the substance and facts that drive D.C.’s current grass-roots housing-advocacy movement. It unfairly and dishonestly characterizes the process that Homes Not Jails is going through to obtain official title to and complete the repairs on the house we took over on Thanksgiving at 1959 H St. NE.
It’s inaccurate to say that Homes Not Jails’ takeover of 1959 H St. NE is a failure. The action forced D.C.’s Section 8 office to secure housing for Nadine Green, a formerly homeless mother of three. Also, we have held the house since Thanksgiving and are in the process of gaining title to it to give to someone in need. I spoke with representatives at Salomon Smith Barney, the house’s owner, and they’ve flagged the house as a special casethey’re likely to include this house in a package of houses that they plan to donate back to communities. Yes, we’re waiting for HUD and SSB bureaucracy. But how is this action a failure when there’s been no definite outcome yet?
Among the article’s other inaccuracies is a claim that we were doing open burning in a barrel in front of the house, which is completely false.
Second, I am not the leader or head of Homes Not Jails. We operate by consensus.
Third, there are closer to 18,000 people on the waiting list for Section 8 housing in D.C., according to the Department of Housing and Community Development, not just over 12,000 people.
The article was also unnecessarily divisive in the way it covered Homes Not Jails’ and the Carver Terrace Community Development Corp.’s relationship. Although we operate on two different philosophies, we share a common goal of affordable housing.
There’s something wrong in a city when the media trash the efforts of a volunteer group attempting to address homelessness in the same year when six people died of hypothermia on D.C.’s streets, needed family shelters are closing, clinics serving low- and no-income people are being closed, and low-income tenants continue to be evicted en masse by slumlords. Families wait months for emergency shelter in D.C., and the city is closing 45 emergency family shelter beds on Park Road. Where is the City Paper when this is happening?
Homes Not Jails