Protesters Gather Outside National Shrine, TOPA Clock Ticks

In today's newsletter, we update our supporters on a recent tenant-led action outside of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, announce an event titled "Mold, Lead and the Affordable Housing Crisis," and highlight a video interview with Northeast D.C. tenant Karen Young, who faces displacement by the Catholic Church.

Protesters Leafleted Parishioners Outside National Shrine as TOPA Clock Ticks for D.C. Tenants Facing Displacement

This past Sunday, tenants and supporters gathered outside of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, just blocks from buildings up for sale by the Church where multinational working class families face displacement. Following a rally during which tenants called into question the moral responsibility of the Catholic Church to protect affordable housing and prevent displacement, supporters held signs and handed out 600 leaflets to parishioners. Protesters were well-received by parishioners who expressed surprise and disappointment that the church was engaging in harmful gentrification policies through its financial transactions.

While representatives of the Catholic Church falsely claim that they cannot assist tenants, at least two buildings are attempting to exercise their Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) rights. But the clock is ticking. Tenant TOPA rights run out in mid-October, and the Church has until that time to explore opportunities such as facilitating a process whereby tenants could form a housing cooperative to protect their families from displacement. In WUSA9 coverage of the protest, tenant Julius Tumushabe asks, "If the Church, an institution of faith, can do this to its flock, who else do we run to?"

In City Paper's article released today, Edgewood Tenants Brace for Eviction as Catholic Church Sells Their Building, tenant Heather Benno is quoted, “They don’t want to know we exist, and we live two blocks away."

Tenants call for supporters to contact National Shrine leaders Rev. Msgr. Rossi and Mr. Kevin Kavanaugh, and ask them to meet with tenants at risk to negotiate and facilitate a process to protect D.C. residents and families from displacement:

Rev. Monsignor Walter R. Rossi, Rector
Phone: 202-526-8300
Email: [email protected]

Mr. Kevin A. Kavanaugh, Comptroller
Phone: 202-526-8300
Email: [email protected]

The Church has vast resources at its disposal and can immediately move to work with tenants and protect them from the harm of displacement.

Justice First and LinkUp continue to encourage supporters to sign on on to the tenants public letter to the Catholic Church. We thank almost 200 individual signatories and two dozen organizations that have signed on in solidarity.

Photos from Sunday's Action:

On Sunday, Sept. 16, 600 leaflets were handed out to parishioners by tenants and supporters outside of the Basilica.

Donate to Justice First to support our work with tenants fighting to protect homes and families against displacement and gentrification.

Montana Terrace and Dahlgreen Courts Event at UDC: "Mold, Lead & the Affordable Housing Crisis"

Further details on program and location will be made available at

On Thursday, October 25, D.C. tenants working with Justice First and LinkUp will co-host a housing forum with UDC Law: "Mold, Lead & the Affordable Housing Crisis." At this event, attendees will hear directly from impacted tenants, a housing organizer, medical professional and attorney, who will discuss the issues of mold and lead as a public health crisis, the danger of living with these toxins and the difficulty of escaping in the context of the affordable housing crisis, and ongoing organizing and legal efforts to hold developers and city officials accountable.

We ask our supporters to save the date:

6:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
Thursday, October 25

Click here to RSVP.

Learn more about Montana Terrace tenants organizing with Justice First.

Learn more about Dahlgreen Courts tenants organizing with LinkUp.

Donate to Justice First to support our work with tenants and community partners like LinkUp, fighting slum conditions, displacement, and gentrification.

D.C. Tenant Facing Displacement by Catholic Church: "The Housing Crisis is Ridiculous"

IMG_1374.jpgClick here to watch video interview with Basilica tenant Karen Young, who faces imminent displacement by the Catholic Church from her unit at 636 Girard St. NE

Donate to Justice First to support our work with tenants and partner organizations fighting slum conditions, displacement, and gentrification.

—Yasmina Mrabet

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