The following blog post is the first edition of the housing newsletter by Jessica Murgel, a member of JUFJ’s Housing Security Working Group. To join the workgroup, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Welcome to the first installment of the Jews United for Justice housing newsletter!
We are launching this (~monthly) newsletter to provide you with updates on what’s going on around housing in the District and action items you can take to make an impact.
If you’re really short on time (or attention span), jump to the Action Items section for next steps. For those of you who would like a little more context, bear with us for a little longer and we’ll cut right to the chase and explain what you can expect from these monthly emails:
What even is the problem?
First, the issue of housing is huge and we want to break it down for you in this first newsletter issue. Affordable housing, rapid re-housing, permanent supportive housing, public housing – it’s not exactly straightforward. So, we want to simplify the jargon and ensure that our community of readers is a well-informed one and we don’t want language to be a barrier. In each edition, we will provide a peek into the mechanics of the issue around housing and continue to build on our understanding in subsequent emails.
In this issue, we’ll define: Housing First
Housing First is an approach that prioritizes housing…first.
In other words, this approach upholds that restrictions around housing, including sobriety and employment are often prohibitive. And instead, this model purports that people experiencing homelessness can only tend toward their other needs such as food security, job seeking, and mental and physical health when they have a safe and affordable place to call home.
For additional educational resources, please see: Action Items below.
What can I possibly do about it?
Second, housing is a human right, but more often than not we see that Black and brown folks make up the vast majority of those displaced from their homes and cities. These populations are also overrepresented by those who are chronically homeless. And the pandemic has only exacerbated the problems.
Safe and stable housing is the foundation on which a healthy quality of life depends. As the Housing First model indicates, we ought to work to build a community where everyone has equal access to safe and affordable housing that isn’t contingent on sobriety, citizenship, or employment status. In fact, just giving people housing makes the latter much more achievable.
But beyond that, those of us with privilege—whatever form that might take—shouldn’t hide from it, shouldn’t be ashamed of it, but instead, should use it. We should use our privileges to benefit those who face the wrong end of structural inequalities every day. There is power in showing up for our neighbors. There is power in educating ourselves. There is power in amplifying the voices of marginalized communities who have a voice of their own, but who are so often neglected by the structures and systems that prefer the voice of the privileged.
Community members like you hold a lot of power in making material changes to the availability and accessibility of housing and we wanted to compile those action items into one, concentrated resource.
If you have 1 minute, and want to tell DC councilmembers to raise taxes to invest in affordable housing and other services:
If you have 3 minutes TODAY, participate with The Way Home Campaign for their call-in-day:
If you have 5-10 minutes and you want to learn more about Housing First, you can read these:
If you have 5-15 minutes time, and want to learn more about housing in DC and new legislation, you can read these articles:
Washington Post: Bill to Evict Dangerous Tenants
If you have a few hours, and want to make your voice heard in the 2022 DC budget process to make sure housing needs are prioritized, you can sign up to give written or oral testimony. If you sign up, JUFJ has resources to support you along the way, including a testimony writing guide.
Email Amy Lieber (email@example.com) for more information on how to give oral or written testimony on housing this budget season
Stay tuned for our next newsletter, where we will continue to highlight action items and more learning about housing in the District.
If there’s something you want to see covered in the next newsletter, let us know!
JUFJ Volunteer, Housing Security Working Group
Interested in receiving the housing newsletter? Click the button below to email firstname.lastname@example.org.