Housing Justice


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Mayor Bowser, 

The founding organizations of the Housing Justice Working Group – The Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers, (WRAG), the Greater Washington Community Foundation, and HAND – write you today to implore you to utilize surplus revenues to support the over 40,000 DC residents (nearly half of an entire Ward in Washington D.C.) who are at risk of being evicted. Forty-thousand is not just a number. It is our neighbors, our friends, children, and seniors. In addition, we urge you to use surplus revenues or other funds to sustain housing for the 350+ families who are facing termination from Rapid ReHousing (RRH) starting in March and April. No family should lose their housing because of a time limit during a pandemic and a recession.  

The ongoing pandemic is unprecedented and has exacerbated the enormous and longstanding inequities in our city. We know that our Black and Brown neighbors have faced higher rates of unemployment and eviction during the pandemic. With 21,000 DC residents currently unemployed, we cannot ignore the eviction crisis in Washington D.C.  

We echo the concerns and requests raised in the letter submitted by the DC Fiscal Policy Institute and 37 other organizations on January 27, as the District has a tremendous opportunity and responsibility through its FY2021 budget surplus and other available resources to prevent an impending eviction crisis by providing additional rent relief funds and funding emergency housing programs such as the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) and Rapid Rehousing (RRH).  We applaud the continued efforts of the Bowser administration to seek out federal funding and creatively leverage local resources to address housing insecurity during the COVID-19 crisis. We also know the need continues to grow and inequities will continue to exist if we fail to make bold investments with our local financial resources – particularly when our resources are so robust. 

You can – and should – act now. We urge you, as well as the Council of the District of Columbia, to utilize the budget surplus and other available federal and local resources to address housing insecurity and prevent evictions. We cannot say that we are working to create a more equitable District if we fail to leverage our public fiscal resources when people are in crisis. This is a critical and necessary step to foster equitable opportunities for those who live in the District.  

Now is the time to make bold and unprecedented investments in deeply affordable housing and to preserve public housing. There has been a severe lack of investment in deeply affordable housing for households making 0-30 percent of the Median Family Income (MFI). Housing for extremely low-income households is the only real solution to ending homelessness. In a city where over 85% of individuals experiencing homelessness are Black, investing in deeply affordable housing is a matter of racial equity and social justice. 

As a cross sector collective of philanthropic and community development organizations that live, work, and engage in the District of Columbia, we have seen the devastating impact of evictions in our community. We know that evictions have long-lasting effects on our communities' physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Housing justice is about people, it is a basic human need, it is a social determinant of health, and it is inherent to our lives.  

This is not solely a call to action to stop evictions, end homelessness and invest in deeply affordable housing; this is a call to take a step into a more just and equitable future. Our communities cannot thrive if we are not acting when we can. We are part of this community, and we see it as a collective obligation to support our community members in crisis to the fullest extent that we are able.   

We have a responsibility to assist those in need by committing as much of our resources as possible towards preventing eviction and housing insecurity, thereby creating a more equitable city and region.  

In solidarity,   

Ruth LaToison Ifill                                                                             Heather Raspberry                                                                            Tonia Wellons
President and CEO                                                                           Executive Director                                                                             President and CEO
Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers                  Housing Association of Nonprofit Developers                           Greater Washington Community Foundation
Funder Together to End Homelessness
Associate, Programs
Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers
Cunningham Holmes
Executive Director
Legal Counsel for the Elderly
Director, Strategy & Administration
Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers
Director, Programs and Strategic Partnerships
Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers
Institute for Wise Philanthropy
New York Ave. Presbyterian Church
SW Action
Associate Director
Butler Family Fund
Community Investment Officer
Greater Washington Community Foundation
Director, Member Experience
Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers
Executive Director
Pathways to Housing DC
The Schimel Lode
Serrano Montufar
Associate, External Affairs
Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers
Executive Director
Goyen Foundation

WRAG believes that a racially just and equitable region must be the vision for all of philanthropy--across all funding priorities, geographic scopes, and types and sizes of giving vehicles.  Sign on to the letter below.