Three women stand on an urban street. They hold a large red banner that reads "HOUSING IS A HUMAN RIGHT".
Jane Cave

For the last twelve years, we have been in a fight to have the right to affordable, sustainable, accessible housing for myself and other lifelong and long term residents of Washington D.C. Every four years we hold presidential, state and local elections. I have a sense of hope that in this election, unlike past elections, the focus will be on what D.C. residents have said is their number one issue: affordable housing for low- and very low-income residents. I am joined by others going around advocating on behalf of low-income residents to have that all-important housing we all need as human beings to survive and raise healthy children, to begin to come out of the impoverishment and homelessness that many of us find ourselves in at the middle of our lives. Just to think of the young people just starting out in life on their own. I always get hopeful this time of year that, this time, the national candidates will not just blame each others’ parties for the poverty and homelessness that many Americans find themselves in. Instead, they may come up with real solutions that start with the universal right to affordable, sustainable and accessible housing for low and very low-income residents of Washington D.C.

In their campaign promises the candidates blame each other for the fact that the middle class and the working poor don’t have the jobs and support they need to stay out of poverty. The shovel-ready job of building infrastructure should be channeled into housing for low- and very low-income residents, as well as startup businesses for low-income entrepreneurs. That way you are giving the middle-class guy a job and you can teach the unskilled poor person a trade and give them both housing that they can afford, instead of living paycheck to paycheck to paycheck to maintain a roof over their heads.

I know it all sounds good, and that’s what those of us in the advocacy community have been saying for years. HUD and the local housing authority let public housing fall apart and blame it on the residents that old buildings are decaying. They are sold to the highest bidder. New people are brought in and old people can be displaced and told that too many of you in one area is not good. I could go on and on with the injustice around housing in America and how it has been used to keep Black Americans living in impoverished communities —  that is a story that has to be told.

I would just say to the people in D.C.: If you want people to be able to stay in D.C. and not live in poverty, then please come join one of the national and local groups fighting for the right to universal affordable housing for the low and very low income people.

Groups involved in the fight for housing and preventing the criminalization of homelessness:

We are holding a public forum at Church of the Epiphany on 1317 G Street NW, around the universal right to affordable housing. It will be 6 – 8 p.m on October 28 in hopes of having that right to housing as a part of the conversation of this year’s election cycle.