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"Tent-City" Established To Protest D.C. Housing Policy

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By Patrick Madden

Advocates for affordable housing in D.C. have established a make-shift tent city to protest the city’s housing policy.

On an empty lot in the northwest D.C. neighborhood of Shaw about a dozen or so make shift tents have been set up. There are also colorful murals and large, handwritten signs that say 'Liberty and Land.'

"We have reclaimed the land for those who desperately need housing right now," says Rosemary Endobweezoo, community organizer for the advocacy group One D.C.

Her colleague at One D.C., Lena Grayber, says the city promised to use the land - known as Parcel 42 - to build affordable, income tiered housing: that is, reserve units for families making $25,000 or less, as well as those making approximately $50,000.

But right now, that’s not going to happen; the building will just be available to those families making $50,000, and Graber says that’s too expensive for many low-income families.

"It’s something that has the label of 'affordable housing' because it has some subsidies, but won’t really serve the needs of the community, and especially the low-income people of color that have been living here for years, because they don’t make enough money to make the subsidized rate," she says.

Meanwhile, Parcel 42 has drawn the attention of many neighbors in Shaw, including Dannette Wade.

She says she spent the last five years in shelters and transitional housing after losing her job at Howard University Hospital. She says finding affordable housing in D.C. is nearly impossible; the search can take its toll.

"Of no fault of your own, if you get displaced, people treat you like you're dirt," she says.

Advocates at One D.C. say they have no plans to leave Parcel 42 unless the city changes the deal.

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