More than 200 individuals met at Savory Elementary School in D.C.’s Anacostia neighborhood recently to participate in the Rally for Racial Equity, Housing, and Jobs. Jubilee residents and staff attended to show support for the city-wide movement to promote access to quality homes and jobs for people of color and those with very low incomes.
“It’s time to turn our face back into the wind—despite our amazing progress—and see who’s still left behind,” said Steve Glaude, president and CEO of The Coalition for Nonprofit Housing and Economic Development, which sponsored the event. “We have to protect our most vulnerable neighbors—those with health challenges and very low income. For many, that means housing plus supportive services.”
The rally occurred the weekend before the D.C. City Council began debating the city’s budget for the next fiscal year. Housing advocates are pressing city officials to fund the Housing Production Trust Fund, a program essential to preserving affordable homes in D.C., at $120 million in 2019.
In addition to the need for deeply affordable homes, featured speakers at the rally emphasized the need for well-paying, career-track jobs in D.C. and called for government solutions to the vast, continuing disparities between the District’s white families and families of color.
“Everyone would benefit from a more just and equitable system,” said Nia Bess, president of the Deanwood Citizens Association. “Likewise, everyone suffers in the long-run from an inequitable one. If you are a person of color, the consequences of inequity, racism, and discrimination can have significant implications for everything in your life—from where you live to your opportunities, health, safety, education, and life outcomes.”
Nationally, white families have 13 times as much wealth as black families. In the District, the difference is significantly more pronounced: white families have 81 times the wealth of black families, according to a research report titled “The Color of Wealth in the Nation’s Capital.”
“Income helps you get by. Assets help you get ahead,” said Harold Pettigrew, executive director of the Washington Area Community Investment Fund. “This city and this nation have prevented asset creation among some populations. This is why we have the wealth gap that we have in this city.”
Several DC councilmembers and Mayor Muriel Bowser also attended the rally. The mayor spoke of her administration doubling the Housing Production Trust Fund to $100 million since 2014 and creating a Housing Preservation Strike Force to preserve existing affordable housing stock.
“So what has $100 million [in the HPTF] meant for the last three years? It’s meant that we’ve been able to create 5,000 units of affordable housing,” said Bowser. She also highlighted her administration’s efforts to create employment opportunities in traditionally underserved neighborhoods.
Glaude, of CNHED, exhorted attendees to keep the momentum going. “Our rally, and your participation today, energizes us and shows our elected officials that we care about ensuring that all residents have a place to live,” he said.
Jubilee Housing will continue to be a partner for change in D.C., focusing on justice housing as the foundation on which strong and equitable communities are built. Jubilee creates justice housing by building homes that are deeply affordable, with on-site and nearby programs, in thriving neighborhoods. Stakeholders in justice housing come together to create a community that counters the divisions of income and race so that all residents can live their fullest lives.