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Mayday DC Coalition Occupies Franklin School, Issues Six Demands to City

Mayday DC, a coalition for the homeless, occupied the Franklin School in downtown Washington this morning. They released six demands to the City Council and Mayor's Office.
Mayday DC Coalition Occupies Franklin School, Issues Six Demands to City
by Eric Laursen 10:18am Fri Aug 9 '02 (Modified on 1:41pm Fri Aug 9 '02)
laursene (at) earthlink.net

Mayday DC, a coalition for the homeless, occupied the Franklin School in downtown Washington this morning. They released six demands to the City Council and Mayor's Office.

August 9, 2002, 9 a.m. - A group of activists from Mayday DC, a coalition for the homeless, occupied the
Franklin School, an abandoned school building in downtown Washington, early this morning and issued a set of six demands to the City Council and Mayor's Office. The activists are former occupants of Olive Branch
House, an activist and service community that fed and provided other services to the city's homeless for
decades before undergoing a politically motivated eviction two days ago.

The Franklin School occupation is the first event in a day of action that will include a march to City Hall by activists for housing and the homeless. Participants include Washington Intercity Self Help (WISH), the National Coalition for the Homeless, and Adam Eidinger, Green Party candidate for U.S. Representative to Congress.

Occupying Franklin School highlights the severe shortage of low-income housing in Washington - a problem the city is making worse rather than alleviating. The school has been empty for over 20 years, yet is situated
across the street from a park where Olive Branch fed an average of 125 homeless people a day throughout the
past fall and winter. Mayday DC estimates well over 300 homeless frequent the eight-block area surrounding
Franklin School, which nevertheless remained chained shut until this morning.

"Poverty and gentrification are overwhelming the residents of Washington, DC," says Jamie Lougher, a Mayday
DC organizer and former Olive Branch resident. "Over the past 10 years the number of children living in
poverty in the district has increased 29%. Hundreds of families in Columbia Heights alone have been forced
from their homes by housing inspectors for living in overcrowded substandard housing. Meanwhile, the city has
done nothing to create and preserve affordable housing as thousands of units are lost to gentrifiers - developers of luxury buildings. The city is cutting back human services like hospitals and shelters, for instance
by closing La Casa - the only bilingual shelter with drug treatment on-site.

Mayday DC has issued the following demands:

1) That the city commit to a program of at least one-for-one replacement of affordable housing lost to developers.

2) That the city immediately end warehousing of vacant, unused city property and instead place it in a land trust to protect it from predatory developers, real estate speculators, and parasitic "community development corporations."

3) That public officials commit to providing a full range of services including supportive housing for the disabled, treatment on demand for those with drug and alcohol problems, and assistance in locating and securing both housing and employment. An immediate commitment to right to shelter must be reflected in the 2002 Reform Act for Homeless Services.

4) That the city pass a living wage law guaranteeing working people a wage that allows them to support themselves and their children.

5) That La Casa remain open and be given a permanent site that will allow it to expand its services to Latina women and families.

6) That the city provide Olive Branch with a leased space that will allow it to restart the services it has had to suspend due to its eviction.
 
 

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