Jubilee Housing Board Members Show Support at Hearing for Reappointment of Jubilee Executive Director Jim Knight to Housing Production Trust Fund Board

Thanks to Jim Knight, the Kairos Program, and Jubilee Housing, Sam Buggs said his life is back on course. “Without those three entities, I am not sure what I would be doing today,” he said.

Jubilee Housing Executive Director Jim Knight

Buggs was speaking at a public confirmation hearing before the Council of the District of Columbia’s Committee on Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization. He was there advocating for Knight, the executive director of Jubilee Housing, who has been nominated to serve a second term on the Housing Production Trust Fund (HPTF) Board. Buggs said he had lived in Jubilee Housing for four years and that he was a member of the Kairos Program, a community of men supporting each other in their sobriety.

He provided candid insight into how the Trust Fund helps real people. A lifelong resident of the District of Columbia, his building was recently renovated with support from the Trust Fund. After being incarcerated for 20 years, Buggs has his own efficiency apartment, is enrolled at Catholic University, and participates in two youth mentorship programs—accomplishments that may have been out of reach without the stability of an affordable home.

“I believe that Jim Knight has a special quality of caring for those who are down on their luck. …He seems to understand the challenges that people like me faced,” said Buggs, who serves on the Jubilee Housing Board of Directors. “I also want to say that as the leader of Jubilee Housing, …he has also been able to translate that compassion into strong programs for the families of our residents and for our brothers and sisters who are returning.”

Myra Peabody Gossens has served on the Jubilee Housing board for more than a decade and currently serves as its chair. She also testified on behalf of Knight at the April 7 hearing in the John A. Wilson Building. Chaired by Councilmember Anita Bonds, the hearing considered the reappointments of Stanley Jackson, Susanne Slater, and Robert Pohlman to the Trust Fund board, as well.

Administered by the DC Department of Housing and Community Development, the Trust Fund provides District-generated funds to preserve, improve, and develop affordable housing. Since 2002, the fund has helped non-profit housing providers, mission-driven for-profit developers, and renters utilizing the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act provide affordable housing options in all eight wards.

Gossens gave an unqualified endorsement of Knight. She said it is imperative the city remains inclusive and called Knight a voice for justice. Her statement focused on his dedication to justice housing, and his deep knowledge and experience in the sector.

“I have had the privilege of working closely with Jim—me as volunteer, Jim as executive—for more than a decade. I’ve seen his wisdom and creativity, his dogged commitment to overcome unforeseen obstacles, his faithful determination to live out his and Jubilee Housing’s vision and mission,” Gossens said.

“I am impressed daily with his understanding of finance and real estate and lending and partners and all types of programs and services whether for the youngest of us all or men and women coming out of jail or families in need of a safe place to live.”

Gossens framed the business case for why Knight should continue to serve on the Trust Fund board. Knight, who has dedicated his career to justice housing, has two decades of experience in affordable housing development.

Since 2002, he has served as executive director and president of Jubilee Housing, which provides affordable housing in 10 buildings located in some of the District’s most rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods, including Adams Morgan, Columbia Heights, and Mt. Pleasant.

In his own testimony, Knight reminded the committee of his longstanding support for the Trust Fund and the ways he has put HPTF funds to work for the community.

An ardent and active supporter of initial funding for the Trust Fund, during his tenure as president of the Coalition for Nonprofit Housing & Economic Development (CNHED), he led the effort to establish the Continuum of Housing Framework, which became the foundation for CNHED’s Housing for All Campaign. The highly successful initiative helped to pave the way for the HPTF’s current $100 million annual funding level.

Knight also noted ways in which he has used funds from the Trust Fund to preserve approximately 200 units of affordable housing, helping to create models for innovative housing combined with services.

Efforts have included communities serving residents earning 30 percent area median income (AMI); hosting early childhood education centers for newborns and toddlers and after-school programs for K-12 students; and a first-of-its-kind housing program supporting men and women returning to the community from incarceration.

Buggs is a proud advocate of the returning program. Having benefitted from it, he offered first-hand reasons for why Knight should continue to serve on the Trust Fund board. His testimony piqued the interest of Councilmember Bonds who asked him a couple of follow up questions after he read his statement.

She asked him if he thought there was value in the support the Trust Fund provides. Knowing the answer was “yes,” she suggested he elaborate for her, based on his experience.

“I think it is unfortunate that returning citizens come home, often times, not having the ability to move into decent housing. I think it is a problem that should be addressed and hopefully this Trust Fund will also continue to include those returning citizens,” Buggs said.

“It’s important because a lot of people who are returning from incarceration would like to do the right things. Unfortunately, I think a lot of the times there aren’t certain safety nets that are put in place to assist them in becoming normal citizens. For this reason, I am grateful once again for Jubilee Housing and their efforts to help those returning citizens find affordable housing.”

Knight could not have asked for a better booster. Justice housing, in turn, has a committed advocate, too.

“I want to thank Mayor Muriel Bowser for nominating me for another term on the Housing Production Trust Fund Board and for her leadership in addressing the affordable housing crisis we are experiencing in the District,” Knight said.

“If confirmed I will continue to bring to the board strong advocacy for the creation and preservation of high-quality housing for those who can’t afford it otherwise—housing that is coupled with services that provide opportunity for families and individuals, all while being located in thriving neighborhoods with access to good jobs, education, transportation, and more.”

Comments

  1. My name is Edward Bunch, I have lived at 1631 Euclid St. NW. the Ritz building since 1990 (a Jubilee Housing building). Jubilee Housing was a lifesaver for me, it provided a place for me to live that I could afford, a clean, well-maintained, safe place to live that I could afford.
    When I moved in I thought that I would only be there for a short period of time, I thought that I would once again find employment that would allow me to move back into the upscale accommodations that I have lived in before. That did not happen. What did happen, was the jobs that I found only paid what the average worker earned. The average worker, who worked in the hotel’s, cleaned our streets, cleaned our buildings, worked in the office, restaurants, in other words the low-level workforce in the city of Washington DC.
    When I found employment, my income was such, that the apartments that I could afford, were so badly maintained, and in neighborhoods that were dangerous, and the cost was so high that there was barely enough money left for food and clothing and none left for recreation.
    But more importantly after living in Jubilee Housing I began to feel that I was living with family, living in the community that truly was interested in improving the life of its residents. Over the years that I lived with Jubilee Housing I began to feel that I was part of something bigger than myself, I felt that I was part of the community that genuinely cared for each other.
    I was never one that wanted to participate in everything, I was a person who was more of an observer than a participator. But as an observer I could see the affect Jubilee was having on the neighborhood in its entirety, not just in the Jubilee community itself.
    I do not know exactly, when Jim Knight took the reins of Jubilee in his most capable hands. But I do know, the positive effects that he and the programs that he initiated and the people that he brought on board (such as Dorothy, property manager) made Jubilee Housing a force for good in the Adams Morgan neighborhood. Over the years, I have seen the quality of life in the Adams Morgan neighborhood improve and get better and better, in fact, in recent years a couple of apartments buildings were built, where the condos range from $300,000 to more than million dollars (the average worker cannot afford these prices). I believe that Jubilee was one of the prime movers in the improvement of our neighbor.
    Everybody seems to be talking about what can we do to improve our inner cities, the rich and the high flyers are not the people who make our cities great, people who make our cities great are the average people, the people who work in average jobs such as hotels, restaurants, street cleaners, the delivery, the people pick up our goblet garbage, they are the people who make our cities great. When housing is so expensive that these people can no longer find a place to live in the city, then they moved to the suburbs, and go through the grueling commute every day to keep our city running. What is left, is a city that is dying at its core. Jubilee Housing, provides clean, safe, and affordable Housing for seniors (who have only Social Security), for young families (with help for employment opportunities, with afterschool activities for the children, with educational assistance with their children, with reentry help for nonviolent offenders returning to society). Jubilee Housing directs its efforts to the problems at the core of our city.
    Jubilee Housing, is a partnership, between the private sector (private sector needs a good and reliable workforce and that sees the benefits that affordable housing offers) and governments (government benefits because the private participation lowers the cost to the city’s taxpayers) reap the benefits of a vigorous and growing inner-city.
    Jim Knight, is the right man, with the right vision, to lead Jubilee Housing into the future. We all just suffered through an election year. Everybody promises everything to everyone and everyone supposed to be happy. One of the things that Mr. Trump promised, was that he was going to make our inner cities better! Well President Trump why don’t you give Jim Knight a call? You’re always talking about saving the government money, you’re the king of the art of the deal, talk to Jim Knight and find out how it’s done and then, talk to your big corporate friends and tell them how it’s done. Right after you were elected I wrote a letter to your transition team suggesting that you get in touch with Jim Knight, I’m sure you never saw the letter and I’m sure you will not see this either, but still, I hope you do.
    I tend to ramble on, but the 27 years that I’ve been in Jubilee Housing and I find that I am so glad to have had the experience. But this is about Jim Knight, and I cannot believe that there would be any hesitation in reappointing him to this post as Executive Director. Thank you

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