Wednesday, June 15, 2016

City View @ Rosa Burney Tenant Association Anniversary

City View @ Rosa Burney's Tenant Association celebrated it's one year anniversary with a 2 day event celebration. In one year, the City View at Rosa Burney Tenant Association has brought together tenants, allies, and the Mechanicsville Community. The tenant association organized to keep City Views at Rosa Burney affordable by getting a HUD contract for 7 years. A very eventful and successful year! 

The celebration kicked off last Wednesday at 4pm with Bingo with Councilman Andre Dickens. Tenants gathered for numerous rounds of competitive Bingo with Andre Dickens calling out the lucky numbers. A great time was had by all!

The anniversary celebration continued into Thursday. Tenants and allies gathered at the Dunbar Center for the Anniversary Party. The agenda was facilitated by the Tenant Association President, Deborah Arnold. There was space for tenants to discuss housing and community issues, followed by guest speakers. Becky Rafter, from Georgia WAND, spoke about Voter Registration. Maggie Kinnear, from Atlanta Legal Aid, spoke about what tenant's legal rights and what to do if they are being violated. After speakers we all had the opportunity to get to know each other and enjoy some anniversary cake. 



Congratulations to City View @ Rosa Burney's Tenant Association for building community power for over a year! We can't wait to see what the upcoming years hold for City View @ Rosa Burney's Tenant Association!




Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Will the Chinese Be Evicted From DC Chinatown?


Bush Company’s Plans to Build More Luxury Condos Would Displace Hundreds and Mark the End of DC Chinatown


Tenant leaders from across the US joined Museum Square Tenants today to support tenants at Museum Square in DC’s Chinatown facing displacement to make way for luxury condos. Over 100 tenants came together for the rally, which was held outside the DC Chinatown complex.

Approximately half of Chinatown’s remaining Chinese population lives in the 302-¬unit Museum Square building. Most tenants are Chinese immigrants; the rest are African¬American. The owner plans to tear down Museum Square to build 850 high rise luxury condos.

Are the Chinese being evicted from DC Chinatown? That is the question and the concerned shared by many long term residents of the community. “I don’t call it Chinatown anymore I call it downtown; I don’t know why they have Chinese letters on all the buildings. I remember when we used to be able to walk down H street to get rice, vegetables, and everything else we need. Now most Chinese business has been priced out” stated Museum Square tenant leader Jenny Tang.


Last October, the owner declined to renew the federal subsidy contract that kept the building affordable for low income tenants Under federal law, tenants were issued “Enhanced Vouchers” by HUD which provide them a legal Right to Remain in their homes.


Initially, the owner refused to accept the vouchers, but relented under pressure from Museum Square tenants and their allies. Although the owner now accepts vouchers, both the owner and the DC Housing Authority continue to encourage tenants to move.


HUD officials on Monday refused to change their policy which recognizes a tenant's right to remain but requires the tenants to personally enforce that right. This forces low-¬income tenants to contend with well financed real estate developers and owners.


11 yr old Tenant Leader Jasmine Tang
“Just because the owner says ‘you have to move’ does not mean you have to move. Right now, in my heart, it means ‘work as a team and fight,’” said Jasmine Tang, a ten year old tenant leader who lives in Museum Square. “The owner does not know how many people and children he can hurt by just demolishing the building.”

 

"The struggle of Museum Square tenants has put a spotlight on the issues faced by low income tenants and communities of color across the nation,” commented NAHT President Ed Lucas.  
An on-line petition was created to build pressure to stop the displacement of the Museum Square tenant: https://start2.occupyourhomes.org/petitions/bush-company-stop-the-displacement-of-300-families?bucket=&source=twitter-share-button


Friday, June 3, 2016

Fulton County Drops Case Against Tim Franzen


Almost four years ago Occupy Our Homes Atlanta, now rebranded as the Housing Justice League, launched an ambitious campaign to liberate vacant homes in Atlanta. The first campaign we launched was led by Michelene Meusa, Renika Wheeler, and their two amazing children Dillon and Jahla.

After occupying the house for seven days M&T bank flew down executives from New York and worked with Atlanta Police to evict the family despite community support. Renika and Michelene refused to leave and several other supporters, including myself, refused to leave as well. We knew that arrests were very likely but we also knew that half of the homes in the neighborhood were bank owned vacants that had been sitting empty for years while the Atlanta homeless populations was multiplying. It was a time for drastic measures. 

In the end four of us were arrested but we managed to bring a lot of media attention to Michelene and Renika's struggle and the housing crisis facing thousands of Atlantans. I'm happy to report that many people in the movement stepped up to support Michelene and Renika and they have been living in a home with their children, totally self sufficent, for years.


After that campaign we quickly won our next two home liberations and we started to see more people around the country use that model.

The four of us arrested were charged with criminal trespass. Eventually everyone's charges, except mine, were dropped. Over the years I've had countless court dates related to this charge, some of which I showed up to and no judge was present. There have been two separate occasions in which I was arrested on a failure to appear warrant, both times were extremely suspicious as they were right in the middle of protests or organizing meetings. Another time I was detained for over an hour after being followed by police after an organizing meeting. The officer claimed I didn't appear at a court proceeding related to the charge, thankfully I was able to call my lawyer and a friend from the back seat of the officers car before they attempted to book me.

Today I had to go to court, it was time to set a trail date. It's rare that I get any kind of pleasant surprise from the state but today I did; they decided to drop the case all together! In the paper work they cited: " An assessment has been made by the prosecutor and it's determined that in the best interest of justice the prosecution should be terminated"

I have no doubt that a major factor in this outcome is the fact the cities best movement lawyer, Mawuli Mel Davis of the Davis/Bozeman lawfirm represented me.

Despite the difficulties this specific arrest has brought me over the years I want to be clear that it was 100% worth all the trouble. Doing the right thing can never be wrong and the positive outcomes radically outweigh the personal issues I have endured. That being said I'm grateful to close the book on this one. Thanks to everyone that supported me through the process!

Love and Service,

Tim Franzen
American Friends Service Committee

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Youth Summer of Social Justice Kick-off BBQ in Peoplestown



As the Summer temps heating up so did social justice fun with the youth in Peoplestown. At 4:00pm the grill was fired up at the McDevitt Youth Center on Crews Street. The center is the meeting space for the monthly Housing Justice League meeting. As the food began to cook and the park started to smell like a great Atlanta Summer day the youth started to fill-in. It was not long after that plates were served and the park was full of the neighborhoods youngsters. Food was grilled and served for free to all the youth with hungry stomachs. At the end of the day we served nearly 50 youth and collected contact information for 50 young people in the neighborhood. All of which were invited and reminded to join our new and growing youth space at the monthly meetings. The BBQ was the first step to a Summer of Social Justice for Atlanta’s youth!

The next Housing Justice League mass meeting, which will include a youth break out, will be held Tuesday June 21st, click here for details!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

AFSC Position on Trans Pacific Partnership

Five Quaker organizations from Europe and the United States have expressed concern about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the controversial ‘mega’ trade deal being negotiated between the European Union and the United States. 
It is the first time that Quaker organisations, working on both sides of the Atlantic, have spoken out together about such a trade treaty.

American Friends Service Committee, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Quaker Council for European Affairs, Quaker United Nations Office and Quaker Peace & Social Witness, have sent a statement to Prime Minister David Cameron, government representatives and trade officials. They say that TTIP negotiations are prioritising the prospect of short-term economic gain over the longer-term factors necessary to human wellbeing and protection of the Earth.

The statement comes in the context of building opposition to TTIP, as controversial, confidential negotiation documents were leaked into the public domain and the French government has warned that it is considering blocking the deal.

The Quakers say that TTIP will almost certainly hamper international commitments to tackle climate change and global poverty, including the recently agreed Paris Agreement on Climate change and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Quakers are calling for a fundamental rethinking of global trade rules and for future trade deals to be aligned with the demands of these commitments. 

The Quakers also assert mechanisms such as the Investor State Dispute Settlement mechanism or Investment Court System hand too much power to large companies, making them “fundamentally antidemocratic in nature and therefore unacceptable.”

“Protections for investors included in TTIP, such as the Investor State Dispute Settlement Mechanism, threaten members’ ability to enact policies to protect people and the environment,” said Kathryn Johnson, representative of the American Friends Service Committee. “This alone is reason enough to reject TTIP as we’ve seen how these mechanisms have been used to undermine environmental, health and other policies and extract billions of dollars from tax payers.”

The Quaker statement also highlighted concerns about the lack of transparency around the deal, the negotiations for which remain largely secret. “It is impossible for civil society groups to get meaningful information about the negotiations,” said Andrew Lane, Representative at the Quaker Council for European Affairs based in Brussels. “Even more disconcerting is the uncertainty about whether or not the national parliaments of EU countries will have adequate opportunity to scrutinise the deal.  If TTIP negotiations continue it’s vital that elected representatives have proper access to information and a genuine opportunity to reject the deal if they consider it to threaten the well-being of people, or the planet.”
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The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization that includes people of various faiths who are committed to social justice, peace and humanitarian service. Its work is based on the belief in the worth of every person and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice.

Notes to editors
·         Quakers are known formally as the Religious Society of Friends. Their commitment to equality, justice, peace, simplicity and truth challenges them to seek positive social and legislative change.
·         Trade for well-being, not just for profit: A shared Quaker statement on TTIP and free trade agreements can be read in full at www.quaker.org.uk/trade 
·         The Quaker Council for European Affairs brings a Quaker vision of just relationships to the European Union and the Council of Europe. QCEA has worked on trade issues and TTIP since 2013, advocating for trade deals to prioritise the well-being of people and planet, above profit.
·         The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organisation that promotes lasting peace with justice, as a practical expression of faith in action. This work has included decades of grassroots education and advocacy for trade policies that place human dignity, economic justice, and environmental sustainability the heart of the global economy.
·         The Quaker United Nations Office works with the UN, multilateral organisations, government delegations, and non-governmental organisations, to address the interconnections between trade, investment, intellectual property rules and how they relate to poverty, hunger and food insecurity. QUNO engages with all stakeholders from small-scale farmers to trade negotiators, providing safe spaces to explore how the food system could be made to work for the whole of the world’s population.
·         Quaker Peace & Social Witness works with and on behalf of British Quakers to turn faith into action. It is a department of Quakers in Britain, whose representative body discussed TTIP in July and December 2015 concluding that it had “deep concerns about the impact of the proposed agreement”.
·         The Friends Committee on National Legislation is the nonpartisan Quaker lobby in the public interest, and works with the United States Congress to change government policies that perpetuate all forms of injustice. FCNL has worked within interfaith and multi-sectoral coalitions to highlight to elected officials the major environmental, human rights, and labour concerns with the Transpacific Partnership (TPP), TTIP, and other free trade agreements
·         Over 3 million people across Europe have already called on the EU and US governments to stop negotiating TTIP https://stop-ttip.org/