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VOL. 15 ISSUE 14


MAY 16 - 29, 2018

Real Stories

Silver Spring

Real People

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Real Change






Friendship Place uses private money to stabilize people in housing throughout the DMV area


VIRGINIA Annandale





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The Cover Tenleytownbased nonprofit Friendship Place used a $1 million donation from Amazon to create a regional program to prevent family homelessness. DESIGN BY TIFFANY NEWMAN

The Street Sense Story, #MoreThanANewspaper Originally founded as a street newspaper in 2003, Street Sense Media has evolved into a multimedia center using a range of creative platforms to spotlight solutions to homelessness and empower people in need. The men and women who work with us do much more than sell this paper — they use film, photography, theatre, illustration and more to share their stories with our community. Our media channels elevate voices, our newspaper vendor and digital marketing programs provide economic independence, and our in-house casemanagement services move people forward along the path toward permanent supportive housing. At Street Sense Media, we define ourselves through our work, talents and character, not through our housing situation.

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NEWS IN BRIEF New homeless census data released ahead of first vote on the FY2019 budget BY JAKE MAHER //

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Metro D.C. Amazon Town Hall

D.C. Interagency Council on Homelessness Meetings

Candidate Forum on Criminal Justice Reform

6:30 - 8:30 p.m. St. Stephen and the Incarnation Episcopal Church 1525 Newton St. NW The Metro D.C. No HQ2 Coalition says, “Hear straight from the people our elected leaders are ignoring. We have the ability to fund our communities, not Amazon.” More info:

Strategic Planning Committee May 22, 2:30 pm // 441 4th St NW Room 1114 (11th flr, South Side) Emergency Response Committee May 23, 1 pm // 441 4th St NW Room 1114 (11th flr, South Side) Youth Committee May 24, 10 am // 441 4th St NW Room TBD, 11th flr, South Side *For more information on issuefocused ICH working groups, contact

6 - 8 p.m. First Congregational United Church of Christ // 945 G St. NW D.C. Council Chair candidates: Ed Lazere, Phil Mendelson At-Large D.C. Councilmember candidates: Anita Bonds, Marcus Goodwin, Jeremiah Lowery More info: reformdcjustice

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7:41 AM - 18 APR 2018

4:00 PM - 3 MAY 2018

The D.C. Council voted unanimously on May 15, with the exception of Ward 8 Councilmember Trayon White who was absent, to initially approve the city’s budget for fiscal year 2019. The council added $15.6 million to the mayor’s proposed budget for programs related to affordable housing, enough to support 752 new affordable housing units. The previous week, the latest data on the region’s homeless population was released by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. This “point-in-time” snapshot, which counts people in shelters, housing programs and on the street for a single night in January, showed a net decrease of 7.6 percent from last year. District residents counted as homeless in 2018 numbered 6,904. The mayor’s proposed budget outlined record investments in housing and homeless services but received criticism from affordable housing advocates for failing to provide adequate funding to support permanent housing solutions. For instance, the Way Home Campaign, with the support of the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute and Miriam’s Kitchen among others, called on the council to invest $32.9 million more for affordable housing than was allotted in the mayor’s budget. The council added $4.75 million in funding for the Local Rent Supplement Program, which provides housing vouchers for those on the D.C. Housing Authority waiting list. The budget also added funding to the targeted affordable housing, permanent supportive housing, and transitional housing programs, among others. At-large Councilmember Anita Bonds, who serves as the chair of the Committee on Community and Neighborhood Revitalization, praised the budget for a commitment to preserving an affordable housing market, including $10 million to increase the Home Purchase Assistance Program and Employer-Assisted Housing Program and $6.5 million for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program. “In a time when we are constantly calling for our housing development community to serve the zero to 30 percent area median income population, the government needs to put its money where its mouth is,” Bonds said. Recognizing domestic violence as the leading cause of family homelessness in the District, the council allocated $2.5 million to create 83 new units of transitional housing for survivors of domestic violence. While family homelessness dropped by 20 percent, the number of single adults experiencing homelessness climbed by 5 percent compared to the previous year. Men make up 73 percent of homeless single adults. The budget includes $40 million for construction of a new emergency and temporary housing program to replace the current 801 East men’s shelter on the St. Elizabeths campus in Southeast, according to Department of Human Services Director Laura Zeilinger. An additional $9.5 million has been allocated to permanent supportive housing and other services for single adults. In line with the decrease in family homelessness, DHS reports spending $50,000 per night on overflow shelter for families in hotels, down from $60,000 in the fall. “We’re doing a lot of things to reform the entire system … for families and for the single adult system,” Zeilinger said at a May 11 media briefing. “For families, the two things that have probably been the biggest drivers [of the decrease in homelessness] over the last two years are prevention supports … and a policy that provides direct access to shelter year-round.” A second and final vote on the city’s budget will be held May 29.

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Tenants’ rights group invites candidates to debate housing at the local and national levels Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton addresses the crowd in a packed room at the Charles Sumner School, on 17th Street NW. PHOTO BY KJ WARD

BY KJ WARD Volunteer

On May 2, the D.C. Tenants’ Advocacy Coalition held a forum at the Sumner School in Northwest D.C. for Democratic candidates in the June 19 D.C. primary election. The upcoming primaries will be contests for delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives; mayor; chair of the Council; at-large member of the Council; members of the Council for Wards 1, 3, 5 and 6; attorney general of the District of Columbia; and U.S. senator. The moderator of the forum was TENAC acting chair Denise Washington. Early in the proceedings, Rob Wohl, an organizer for the Latino Economic Development Center, framed D.C.’s affordable housing problem by saying, “Since 2002, more than half of the lowcost apartments we had have gone away. There’s a climate of impunity for slum lords.” He added, “We have to stop the egregious tactics landlords used to displace tenants and drive up rents.” On this issue of housing affordability, candidates offered the standard list of campaign promises — from general commitments to “putting the people of the District” first to “making affordable housing a priority.” However, several specific policy messages were also communicated, signaling challenges to the strategies of a few incumbents.

Campaign signs on a sidewalk near the May 2 forum. PHOTO BY KJ WARD

Congressional Delegate Both Kim Ford and Natale Stracuzzi presented alternatives to the strategies of incumbent Congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton. Ford noted that D.C.’s delegate has all but one of the standard rights in Congress and said she wouldn’t “fixate” on the one thing “we don’t have,” the floor vote. Norton touted her committee seniority and reiterated her pro-statehood position. Ford said that in contrast to Norton’s influence on Congress’s Oversight and Transportation Committees, service on the Education and Workforce Committee would be her approach to addressing the issue central to the forum: housing. “I’m going to honor your legacy,” she said, speaking directly to Norton, “but after 27 years, it’s time for a change.” Stracuzzi, an outspoken critic of private-enterprise capitalism, said “we need a new vision.” “I’m running,” he said, “on labor, healthcare, and Social Security.”

Attorney General D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine is seeking re-election and is unopposed in the Democratic primary. He touted his accomplishments in criminal justice reform, specifically related to the success of the Alternative to Criminal Experience (ACE) diversion program. Racine said that of the 200,000 young people who have been a part of ACE, “nearly 80 percent have not been re-arrested.” Racine also spoke of his office’s crackdown on management company Sanford Capital, whose business model, he said, “was premised on evicting tenants.” He said the District’s lawsuit against Sanford Capital resulted in a settlement that awarded about $9,500 to each resident of Terrace Manor, one of

Sanford Capital’s properties, and a sevenyear ban from doing business in D.C.

D.C. Council Another challenge to incumbent leadership came from Ed Lazere, who is hoping to unseat Phil Mendelson as chair of D.C. Council. Lazere linked affordable housing to school success, positive health outcomes and employment. As evidence of his commitment to affordable housing in D.C., he pointed to his work helping establish the Housing Production Trust Fund 20 years ago and his work with the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute. “I am committed to doubling the city’s investments in its affordable housing programs,” Lazere said. He asserted that had he been on the council, he would have voted against the TOPA exemption — an amendment that exempts singlefamily homes from legislation requiring landlords to present tenants with an offer on a property they are planning to sell. Earlier in the forum, Ward 3 Council Member Mary Cheh defended her vote for the exemption. Cheh proposed “affordability covenants” as a way to ensure the sustainability of affordable housing and voiced her opposition to a provision that, in certain circumstances, can allow landlords to raise the rate on a rent-controlled unit up to 30 percent for new tenants. One forum attendee posed a very specific question to both Council chair candidates, asking whether either would be willing to raise the income tax on the richest residents, specifically to boost local revenue in proportion to the federal income tax reduction they will experience due to Congress’s recent tax bill. Mendelson said that he would look at the legislation’s effect on local revenue. Both candidates stressed the importance of progressive taxation, and Lazere pointed to his work in the creation of the highest income-tax bracket as evidence of

his commitment. Lazere also noted that housing is only 3 percent of the city’s budget and said that he would push the city to commit more resources. An early schedule overrun resulted in a time crunch toward the end of the forum, and at-large council candidates were restricted to two-minute presentations. At-large Councilmember Anita Bonds, who is seeking re-election as chair of the Committee on Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization, submitted a geographic strategy regarding affordable housing. She stressed the importance of securing affordable housing across the city and warned against concentrating housing stock in any one location. Looking to unseat Bonds is Aaron Holmes, who described a focus on “legacy housing” in direct contrast to new-housing development as essential to addressing the issue of affordability. “We can’t keep hoping that developers will allot a few [affordable] units,” Holmes said. Also vying for a seat on D.C. Council is Marcus Goodwin, who announced his candidacy last fall. Goodwin shared his story of growing up in D.C. and the role that solid educational opportunities played in his, and his seven siblings’, road to success. He then went on to emphasize the importance of “Community Benefits Agreements as fixtures” of development policy going forward. Before the political hopefuls took the stage, TENAC honored its retiring chairman, Jim McGrath, with the 2017 Lifetime Consumer Advocate Award for “decades of unwavering service and efforts to protect tenants’ rights.” Among McGrath’s remarks was a reminder that the opportunity to escape poverty is a civil right and that affordable housing is key to that opportunity. “You shouldn’t have to be rolling in dough to afford a one-bedroom apartment,” McGrath said. “If the nation’s capital can’t do better than that, then we need better leadership.”


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Mayor Muriel Bowser, Friendship Place President and CEO Jean Michel Giraud, and D.C. Department of Human Services Director Laura Zeilinger. PHOTO COURTESY OF FRIENDSHIP PLACE

Friendship Place launches a regional homelessness prevention program with the help of Amazon’s million-dollar donation BY OLIVIA RICHTER


ith the help of a $1 million donation from Amazon, the D.C.-based nonprofit Friendship Place recently launched “Family Connect,” a privately funded homelessness prevention and diversion program. The 115-day program focuses on getting participants into stable housing and helping them gain employment as quickly as possible. Family Connect is a regional program serving families and individuals throughout the D.C. Metro area. The program served one family as far away as St. Mary’s County, 85 miles from the organization’s headquarters in Tenleytown. “We feel that family homelessness is a regional phenomenon,” said Jean-Michel Giraud, president of Friendship Place, who explained that working remotely through phone calls and emails expands the program’s range. “It really doesn’t matter to us where the family is, because it is private funding.” The program’s top priority is to ensure that families and individuals have stable housing. If a family is served eviction papers, Giraud says, Family Connect will step in to pay the fee and stop the eviction, sometimes within 24 hours of the eviction notice being posted. It will also help pay security deposits and application fees. Stable housing is central to Family Connect’s model, so that families and individuals have a place where they can sleep well, maintain good hygiene, and relax in comfort and safety — all things Giraud cited as leading to much better job retention. One current Family Connect participant, who asked to remain anonymous to protect the privacy of her family members, described her life as changing “drastically” since contacting Friendship Place before Christmas last year. She lost her job and was forced to move into her boyfriend’s grandfather’s one-

bedroom apartment with their three children. Her boyfriend was also struggling to find employment because of his criminal record. Friendship Place helped the family pay the security deposit on a two-bedroom apartment, where they were able to move before the holidays. “The children’s behavior has gotten a lot better because we didn’t have a structured environment before,” she said. The extra space in their new apartment has made a huge difference, she added, because the couple and their children now have bedrooms to themselves. The program participant’s husband is now employed, and Family Connect is working with her to find employment. Family Connect sends out applications for its participants to partner organizations. It also holds practice interviews, helps participants obtain interview attire, teaches computer skills and shows participants how to apply for jobs online. Amazon surprised Friendship Place with its donation last April, on the condition that Friendship Place would match it within six months. It did. The Family Connect model was then designed using strategies Friendship Place already had experience with, such as rapid re-housing, a program that places individuals and families experiencing homelessness in apartments and subsidizes the cost of rent for four months to a year, and Employment First, a program originally instituted by former District Mayor Vincent Gray that prioritizes helping working-age youth and adults gain employment. “We assume employability,” Giraud said. “Everybody has a skill set that they can get paid for, and we help the person get in touch with that skill set.” Family Connect also helps families with children over 18, whether the children live with their parents or not. These are services District government does not provide. The program also

serves multigenerational households, diverting young families away from shelters and public housing by helping to make it possible for them to live with their parents or grandparents. Family Connect is working with 34 families and has graduated seven others who have achieved stability. Because the 115-day program length is relatively short compared with D.C.’s rapid re-housing program, which provides support for between four months and a year, Giraud said that Friendship Place is prepared to step in and help a family get back on track if they begin to struggle again after they graduate from the program. “It’s a bit like relapse and recovery,” Giraud said. “We’ve never been about that at Friendship Place, letting people unravel all the way down because of some rule, some rigidity. Our system is not rigid. It’s flexible.” Friendship Place estimates that it has the funds to help approximately 70 families per year for two years. Giraud expressed his gratitude to Amazon for its contribution and is hopeful the partnership will continue. Friendship Place has also been in talks with representatives from the Department of Human Services about the possibility of obtaining government funding for Family Connect. The Family Connect participant said she is incredibly grateful for the help that Friendship Place and Family Connect has provided her family over the past few months. She recalled fondly the time an employee at Friendship Place gave her family a turkey to take home over the holiday season. “They just truly want to help,” she said. “You can really tell that they are genuine people, and they really care about your wellbeing. I really appreciate that. It’s inspired me to want to help someone myself, in any way that I can."

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Rev. Annie Chambers speaks, with other clergy, to a crowd of demonstrators in Annapolis, Maryland. PHOTO ESSAY BY HENRIEESE ROBERTS

Coordinated nonviolent protests sweep the nation BY HENRIEESE ROBERTS Artist/Vendor

After months of meetings and trainings, the new Poor People’s Campaign kicked off a “40 days of nonviolent action” campaign on Monday, May 14 — the anniversary week for the original Poor People’s Campaign inspired by Martin Luther King Jr. According to campaign organizers, the first week of demonstrations is designed to focus on the needs of women, children and people with disabilities that are living in poverty. “Our demands for change became even more urgent this month because President Trump is trying to cut $7 billion of funding from the Children’s Health Insurance Program, a move that could snatch health insurance away from 9 million children,” the group wrote in an email. The organizers are calling for investments in housing and increased wages nationwide, claiming support in 30 states. While a protest was held at the Capitol in the District, faith leaders, poor people and their supporters held demonstrations across the country. One such act of civil disobedience occurred at the Lawyer’s Mall, near my home in Annapolis, Maryland. Rev. Annie Chambers spoke and her words were riveting. Here are a few: “I have been struggling for 60 years. I am co-chair of National Welfare Rights. We have been out here a long time. We were in the first Poor People’s Campaign, and let me tell you how good my creator is, my God is. He got me here for this one. “I am 76-years old and in August I will be 77. I have been struggling ever since I was 14.

“Now when we live in a country, and I live in a state that people say is one of the richest states, one of the richest states in America, and yet in still every day, I deal with people, families, children, women, men, who have nowhere to live. We live in a state were the Governor won’t even support $15 dollars an hour. “Have you looked at the rents in this state? You cannot get a house under $1,500 or $1,700 a month. Have you looked at the food prices? “This a nationwide Nonviolent Moral Fusion-sustained direct action movement. We need you to help Maryland sustain over the 40 days. Join us for our next Moral Monday Rally at Lawyer’s Mall, 100 State Circle at 2 p.m. on Monday, May 21st. We will discuss Linking Systemic Racism and Poverty: Voting Rights, Immigration, Xenophobia, Islamophobia, and the Mistreatment of Indigenous Communities.” Rev. Chambers and other participants were arrested. As planned, similar scenes played out nationwide. The campaign organizers recapped the day with another email blast: “And then we followed the lead of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Fifty years ago, [King] said that to get the attention of legislators, people should “sit down if necessary in the middle of the street and say, ‘We are here; we are poor; we don’t have any money; you have made us this way…and we’ve come to stay until you do something about it.’”


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Mayoral candidate James Butler, candidate for Council chairman Ed Lazere, mayoral candidate Ann Wilcox and incumbent D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson. PHOTO BY LEILA DRICI

Patty Mullahy Fugere, of the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless (left), moderated the forum within the sanctuary of Church of the Epiphany. PHOTO BY LEILA DRICI

Mayoral and council chairperson candidates talk homelessness BY ANNIE ALBRIGHT


group of individuals formerly or currently experiencing homelessness held a forum May 4 for D.C. mayor and council chair candidates at the Church of the Epiphany, in downtown D.C.. The questions centered on one simple theme: “What would you do to build more universally affordable housing?” The candidates’ answers featured policy remedies, such as rent control, improved quality of homeless shelters and increased funding for the D.C. Housing Production Trust Fund, while also highlighting the necessity for a more efficient working relationship between the D.C. Council and the mayor’s office. The ideological divide between the candidates that emerged over the course of the night was between those who plan to increase funding for various affordable housing initiatives and those who believe D.C. can achieve its housing goals by more efficiently spending tmoney it has already allocated. On one side of this debate, Phil Mendelson, the incumbent D.C. Council chair, emphasized that the council should not “dump money into programs” without first examining its current spending. He said the $250 million that D.C. spends annually on affordable housing could be better targeted. James Butler, a current Ward 5 advisory neighborhood commissioner and a mayoral candidate, said that if D.C. can spend money for speed cameras “on every corner,” then it can

afford to allocate more money for crime cameras that would keep neighborhoods safe. Ed Lazere, executive director of the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute and Mendelson’s primary opponent for council chair, called for doubling D.C.’s current spending on affordable housing. The Trust Fund supports projects that produce and preserve affordable housing in the District, and it is itself fed jointly by the D.C. general fund and the District’s deed transfer and recordation tax. The Trust Fund has contributed to the development of 9,900 affordable housing units since its inception. It failed, however, to meet the requirements for a certain number of units to be affordable to the lowestincome families in 2014 and 2015, according to data from Lazere’s own D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute. Mayoral Green Party candidate Ann Wilcox stressed that the Trust Fund needs more funding. Mendelson asserted that the Trust Fund already wastes millions of dollars a year because of inefficiencies. An audience question regarding D.C. General, the homeless shelter housed in the former D.C. General Hospital, drew heated replies from several candidates. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced in January plans to shutter the shelter, which has been plagued by controversy, by the end of the year. Construction has begun on smaller shelters in every ward, but none will be completed by the time D.C. General is closed, so the fate of current residents is unclear. Butler argued that it was improper to shut down D.C. General without a

“dignified” alternative for those living there. Mendelson said that while he originally supported the mayor’s plan to replace D.C. General with smaller shelters, he does not support the move to close it before the ward-based shelters are open. Wilcox argued that D.C. General needs to be closed, while Lazere called Bowser’s initiative bold and brave yet flawed in its execution. Throughout the night, the candidates emphasized their credentials as advocates for people who are homeless. Butler pointed to his background as a civil rights lawyer, Lazere to his work with the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute, and Wilcox to her work with Rachel’s Women’s Center. Mendelson pointed to past achievements as council chair, such as when he exposed the underselling of a publicly owned building that was being converted into affordable housing to garner the city an additional $2 million. He also pointed out that he was the only incumbent candidate “who felt it was important to be here.” Mayor Muriel Bowser was invited but did not attend. When audience members asked the moderator “what excuse” Mayor Bowser had given for her absence, forum planners answered that she had not responded to phone calls.

Watch clips of the forum at

PFFC Executive Director Robert Warren (center). Members and supporters collaborate in the background. PHOTO BY PFFC MEMBER KEN MARTIN // ARTIST/VENDOR

Several Street Sense Media vendors belong to the People for Fairness Coalition, including its executive director, Robert Warren. The advocacy and peer mentoring organization is led by people who have experienced homelessness, which it seeks to end, and includes housed and unhoused members. On May 15, the coalition celebrated 10 years of hard work and looked to the future.



Earned two “B”s and an “A” during her second semester at UDC! ARTIST/VENDOR

Our stories, straight to your inbox Street Sense Media provides a vehicle through which all of us can learn about homelessness from those who have experienced it. Sign up for our newsletter to get our vendors' stories in your inbox.

8 // ST REET SENSE ME DI A / / MAY 1 6 - 2 9 , 2 0 18


Community launches locally organized recovery rally BY SARAH TASCONE // Volunteer


trombone solo of “Amazing Grace” kicked off the small but high-spirited inaugural “Walk 4 Recovery” event on the National Mall. Rhonda Johnson, a selfdescribed survivor of D.C.’s crack epidemic, organized the rally to celebrate recovery from substance abuse and bring hope to those struggling with it. May is Mental Health Month; another event is being planned for Recovery Month in October. Johnson said the walk is the only drug awareness rally organized locally. “I’m a native Washingtonian and we had to make some noise,” she said with a laugh. “We’ve done something no other organizations have done. That’s got to be the game-changer.” Wearing sunglasses, long wooden earrings forming the letters J-E-S-U-S and a stylish strand of turquoise in her hair, Johnson stood on a hill with a megaphone and riled up the crowd of 40 next to the National Museum of African American History. Her voice echoed over the mall, turning heads of tourists at the Washington Monument behind her. Having overcome depression and crack addiction, Johnson is a peer counselor and proud grandmother. Her three grandbabies were among the handful of kids running with pinwheels and riding in wagons. Johnson offered a microphone to survivors to share their stories, and to Kelvin Manurs, executive director of Arm and Arm, a community-

Rhonda Johnson’s granddaughter, Journi, joined the roughly 40 people who participated in the walk and “Transformation Stigma-Free Zone.” PHOTO COURTESY OF RHONDA JOHNSON

based nonprofit offering peer support to returning citizens. Manurs led the group in prayer and passed out small American flags. Except for a slight scar on his cheek, nothing about Manurs hinted at his former life as a drug dealer. He was also incarcerated and homeless for a time. Manurs said love of his daughter and his wife Cynthia is what stopped him from committing suicide in prison and compelled him to go to his third bond hearing. Although he lost — a victim of Clinton’s “three strikes you’re out” policy — the Bible he saw on the mailbox when dropping in a letter to his daughter was his epiphany. “I wanted to help people deal with the issues that lead to incarceration,” Manurs said. Now he is a Virginia certified peer specialist, recognized by the governor for his reentry work and awarded “Recovery Champion” by the city of Alexandria. Mental health and substance use disorders often go hand-in-hand, and sufferers are statistically vulnerable to homelessness. Ten of the twenty-five cities surveyed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors in 2014 reported that “substance abuse and lack of needed services” was one of the top three causes of homelessness for individuals. Veterans are highly susceptible to all three conditions. Arm and Arm works with ex-offenders and veterans, who are often one and the same, according to Peer Counselor John Davis, a Vietnam vet and former felon.

Rhonda Johnson.


The reasons veterans become homeless are complicated. While substance abuse, usually alcohol, is a large factor, causes of homelessness tend to vary by age. Kids coming back from Afghanistan often go right from their parent’s house to boot camp and are not prepared for living on their own. For many Vietnam vets it’s a choice, according to Davis. “They have no intention of coming back to society because as far as they’re concerned, society abandoned them,”Davis said. Substance abuse is a coping mechanism for dealing with trauma, he said, but it’s also a result of boredom with civilian life. “It’s the military training. It’s ‘do what you need to do to live.’”

Counselors Angela Caldwell, Sam Preble and Stephanie Smiley from Montgomery Recovery Services PHOTO BY SARAH TASCONE

Montgomery Recovery Services of Rockville was one of the groups conducting outreach at the rally. Program Coordinator Angela Caldwell said she had to laugh when people talked about the recent “opioid crisis” because she has been dealing with it for 20 years. In fact, D.C.’s crack epidemic is misconstrued as having ended with the 1980s, she said, although it merely decreased. Because the opioid crisis affects young people and suburbanites, it has gained attention, Caldwell said. “Unfortunately, that’s who is valued the most, Caldwell said. “It’s like, ‘wow, a kid on the LaCrosse team died of an overdose.’ People realize addiction doesn’t discriminate.” The contrast between treatment of mostly Black crack addicts, who were often incarcerated, with mostly White opiate addicts, who are being given funding for treatment, is not lost on either woman. But both show generosity of spirit. “We gotta overlook that,” Johnson said. Caldwell believes today’s more enlightened and compassionate view of addicts will extend to everyone and is hopeful that young people are demanding addiction be viewed as a disease and not a moral failing. At the mic, Amanda, who described herself as a “sex-trafficking survivor,” told her story of coming to D.C. at age 19, leaving her husband for a “clown” and subsequently becoming a homeless addict. She ended by announcing that her daughter just graduated from Gonzaga High School and was proudly serving her country. “Just look at where I am now!” Amanda shouted. Everyone cheered. Find the story online to watch Charlotte Clymer of the D.C. Commission on Persons with Disabilities speak at the event.


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Rapid re-housing clients decry program and ask for pathways to employment BY REGINALD BLACK, a.k.a. “DA STREET REPORTIN’ ARTIST” Vendor/Artist

Several families who have received rapid re-housing subsidies marched with advocates on May 9 to voice their concerns about the program. Meeting at the Virginia Williams Family Resource Center on Rhode Island Avenue, they marched nearly two miles in the heat to the headquarters of the D.C. Department of Human Services, where they delivered a letter to DHS officials. As a former rapid re-housing recipient, I see the importance of having a robust conversation about the program, which can be strengthened by input from the community. Right now, the city relies on rapid re-housing to promote movement within the homeless-services system, primarily for families and veterans experiencing homelessness. Theoretically, the program is for those who need the least assistance, but reports show that most families and individuals matched to rapid re-housing need more services than the program currently provides. Concerned residents across the city have increasingly been discussing rapid re-housing and its effectiveness in battling housing instability. “We don’t deserve to be treated like trash,” one resident said as the group gathered outside the Virginia Williams center earlier this month. The city’s rapid re-housing program provides a one-time rental subsidy for up to one year. However, many are concerned that the program is not having the desired outcome and lately, the city government has been criticized for continued

investment in the program. Last year, the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless published “Set Up to Fail,” a report that highlights some program participants’ inability to retain housing after the subsidy ends. “I am fighting for more Targeted Affordable Housing for people in poverty because rapid re-housing does not meet the needs of people who are facing homelessness,” said Travonna Brooks. Brooks has gone through the rapid re-housing program and co-organized the demonstration on May 9 to fight for families like hers. Targeted affordable housing is a rental subsidy program designed for long-term use. According to the letter that marchers delivered to DHS, recipients of rapid re-housing funds can have a hard time finding landlords who will accept them, given the time limit of the voucher support. The letter also outlined minimum income and credit-score requirements as barriers to finding apartments, despite the government-funded voucher. Above all, they said that one year was not enough time to find adequate employment to cover rent when the subsidy expires. The 15-point list of demands in the letter asked for an extension of the time limit, more career-development assistance, a handbook to help navigate the program, and oversight from an entity outside of DHS. When the marchers arrived at the Department of Human

Services, they approached the front desk and asked to speak directly with DHS Director Laura Zeilinger, who was unavailable. However, several staff members from the department met with the families and their advocates in the lobby. The DHS representatives tried to speak with the families one-on-one, but they refused. “We don’t want to play backroom politics,” said one woman. The department had previously been in touch with the families and asked to schedule a meeting with Zelinger and other staff to “have a constructive conversation, identify solutions to their concerns and raise awareness to things we’ve already done to improve the program,” according to Dora Taylor-Lowe, the department’s public information officer. The letter requested a written response to each demand by May 16, as well as an in-person meeting to discuss the responses. Suggested deadlines were placed alongside each item on the list. The group of families and representatives from the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless met with Zeilinger for roughly two hours on May 14, according to Taylor-Lowe. As Street Sense went to press, DHS was planning to issue written responses by the requested deadline as well as have program staff call each household individually to investigate their needs.

1 0 // S T REET SENSE ME DI A / / MAY 1 6 - 2 9 , 2 018


On Tuesday, May 1, I entered a breakfast of the D.C. City Council while wearing my tallit (sacred prayer shawl), raised my voice, and said, “Shame on you” to the members of the Council. The reason I did this was because the Council has taken a weak response to the hurtful and anti-Semitic comments made by one of its members, Trayon White. In a Facebook video, White argued that the “Rothschilds” control the weather. Later, after apologizing for those remarks, he cut short his tour of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in a manner that many (myself included) considered to be disrespectful to the memory of our relatives who were murdered in the Holocaust. On top of that, a political appointee of Mayor Muriel Bowser then held a “unity rally” in support of White. At this rally, anti-Semitic comments were made by an uninvited speaker who called Jews “termites.” When many Jews hear these words we get flashbacks to our worst nightmares. Too often in our history, we Jews have been murdered because of crazy conspiracy theories that sound ridiculous, such as the wild theory that Jews control the weather. When we hear this being spouted by a councilmember, an elected official in our own city, we fear the worst. At the breakfast, I said to White that he endangered my children with his extraordinarily irresponsible language. And yet, through all this, the response of the Council and Mayor Muriel Bowser was extremely disappointing. The Council did not censure White in response to his remarks. And Bowser was similarly muted in her reaction and never called upon her appointee to resign for organizing such an irresponsible rally. Instead, the mayor and the Council responded with banalities that

did not address the issue head-on. Why did they react in such a tepid fashion? I know many members of the Council, and I also know the mayor. Of the ones I know personally, I think that they are very good and decent people. I also think that they did not speak out strongly in this instance out of political calculations, in that they did not want to anger supporters of White. This tells me that they either did not understand (or else did not care about) the level of outrage that many Jewish members felt in response to this series of events. It is very dangerous for all of us as citizens when political leaders are afraid to speak out strongly out of concern that they may anger bigoted voters who don’t want to see them condemn hatred and bigotry. We must demand more of our elected officials. This is not just a Jewish issue but a citywide issue. I was disappointed that in the days after White’s comments I did not hear from any of my fellow ministers in this city asking about these hurtful comments. I would like to think that if a council member had spoken out in a hurtful way about a different religious or ethnic group, I would have criticized those comments publicly and also reached out to fellow ministers from the group that was insulted. Bigotry is not something that remains isolated. It can spread like a wildfire and leave behind many innocent victims. It is our job to call it out by name, directly, forcefully and immediately. May there never be a next time! But if there is, my message to the D.C. Council and to Mayor Bowser is this: We expect more from you. Shmuel Herzfeld is the rabbi of Ohev Sholom (the National Synagogue) in Washington, D.C.

Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld delivering the opening prayer as guest chaplain at the United States House of Representatives on May 23, 2014. U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES RECORDING STUDIO / WIKIMEDIA

Ben Carson speaking at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. PHOTO COURTESY OF GAGE SKIDMORE / FLICKR

Ben Carson’s False Promises on Homelessness BY MARIA FOSCARINIS

In January, Secretary Ben Carson of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) stated clearly that ending homelessness will require “embracing a housing-first approach” and emphasized that it is more costeffective to house people than to maintain homelessness. But the secretary’s words proved empty last month, when a proposal for harmful cuts to housing assistance emerged from HUD. The proposal would increase how much families on housing assistance are required to pay for rent— from 30 percent of adjusted income to 35 percent of gross income—tripling the rent for some families. It would also encourage work requirements, unfairly putting many at risk of losing their housing through no fault of their own. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, this proposal, if passed, could result in millions of individuals losing their homes and nearly 1 million children being thrown into homelessness. The typical household affected by the minimum rent increase would be a single mother of two earning about $200 a month. If rent skyrockets from $50 to $150, there would only be $50 left to pay for diapers, toiletries, transportation and other essentials not included in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Fifty dollars wouldn’t go very far. These proposals are rooted in the unfounded theory that low-income families do not work hard enough and need incentive to work harder—a harmful myth. Many, such as the majority of SNAP recipients with children, already work; their wages are simply not enough. And sometimes working full-time is not an option because of health reasons, having to take care of children or elderly persons, or simply because jobs are not available. Even if you can’t work 40 hours a week, you still need food, health care and a home. Juxtaposed with the recent tax break to America’s wealthiest, which will cost the nation trillions in lost tax revenue, cuts to assistance for our most vulnerable neighbors are nothing short of cruel. Preventing and ending poverty is not only morally necessary but also a wise move financially. According to an analysis of Congressional Budget Office data, for every dollar spent on eliminating childhood poverty, the nation saves $7 with regards to economic costs of poverty. Decreasing assistance for low-income families will not increase economic mobility; it will only aggravate the growing affordable-housing crisis. Currently, only 1 in 4 households that are poor enough to qualify for housing assistance actually receives it. It can take years—even decades—to finally move through the list and receive rental assistance. If you decrease the value of a voucher, you increase the likelihood that an impoverished family will be unable to maintain rent payments and will lose housing. Too many hardworking American families are already one car breakdown, health crisis or other unforeseen financial burden away from losing their homes. Decreasing assistance will not decrease need—it will only intensify demand. Carson’s plan will not magically produce livable wage-paying jobs, access to healthy food, or affordable health care. We already know what works to eradicate poverty: a strong social safety net and adequate, affordable housing. As a leader who says he is committed to ending homelessness, Carson should direct HUD’s efforts toward proven solutions. Maria Foscarinis, a lawyer, is the founder and executive director of the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, a national non-profit legal advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C. She is also on the adjunct faculty at Columbia Law School.


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Alive and Well: a review of Eve Ewing’s ‘Electric Arches’ BY MIKE WOLD

A homeless encampment at Union Station after the area was cleaned in early April. PHOTO BY OLIVIA RICHTER


I have been sleeping in a tent for years. Nobody deserves that life. You can get raped in Tent City, abused in Tent City. Sometimes, people freeze to death or commit suicide in Tent City. And rat bites are all too common. In this country and this era, housing should be a human right. Safety should be a human right, no matter what your mental state is. But I love my family at Tent City, and we gonna be alright. From the artist whose magnificent drawings were thrown out during a city cleanup to the younger ones in the camp who know me as “ma,” we do our best to look out for each other. Especially the kids. One girl passed through, running from a foster home where she was being abused. She couldn’t have been older than 14. I try to share what I know, so they won’t repeat the same cycle as me. My journey all started when my aunt said I was born behind a $15 dollar trick. I didn’t know what she was talking about until I became rebellious and ran away. Through the streets, I experienced different life stories from all different angles. I never knew how many ways a person could be taken advantage of — when you are at your lowest point, no less. I was young when I first went to prison. I witnessed more abuses and rape inside the walls than out. That’s right, perpetrated by the people with the keys. Guards did things they weren’t supposed to do. So did my parole officer! But they don’t hesitate to lock you up and strip you of your humanity. Strip you of your mental stability. It seems to me that government officials misuse the money meant for helping people. I recognize many of them, riding around lookin’ like new money, while I try to block out the noise and the fears, from inside my tent. Laticia Brock is a Street Sense Media vendor and runs a video series on YouTube and Facebook called “Pwezzy Village & Sequan.”

Eve Ewing is a writer who is rooted in a single place, but she is universal in her words. In this collection centered around life in Chicago and the experience of African-American women, her wordsmithing is so apt that often an unarguable reality shines through, even if some of the references may be beyond the experience of a reader with none of that background. As she puts it, “This book is about my life and maybe also your life ... it is about the places we invent. Every story in it is absolutely true.” In fact, the first part is called “true stories,” starting off with the prose poem “Arrival Day,” which seems inspired by a quote from Assata Shakur: “Black revolutionaries do not drop from the moon.” In this case, they do drop from the moon, “hammering the iron of the jail cell doors into lovely wrought curls and bicycle chains, smashing the fare boxes at the train stations into wind chimes.” Racism, naturally, is the subject of a number of the poems. Two poems take off from apparently real incidents and shade into fantasy; in one, a little girl on her bike is called the N-word by an “old White lady” on the block. The girl flies up into the air, scoops the woman up and drops her on a rock in the lake. In another, a woman watching police harass 9-year-olds gives them the same flying bicycles to escape on. One of the most affecting poems along these lines deals with a group of Black poets from Chicago reading in an all-White suburban town: The work of the poet is not unlike the work of being Black. Some days it is no work at all: only ease, cascading victory, the plentitude of joy and questions and delights and curiosities. Other days, you wonder if exile would be too lonely… The second part, “oil and water,” has several poems that reveal the importance that even hair and hair treatments can have. “Shea Butter Manifesto” shows how, In this world, nothing brittle prevails, so in this world, grease is a compliment, no, it’s a weapon…

Church, I cannot tell you the message or even the topic of a single sermon. But I can tell you whose grandbaby I am.” “Origin Story” is one of the most affecting. After introducing how the narrator’s mother and father met at the Greyhound bus station, where her father was selling comic books, Ewing writes: love is like a comic book. it’s fragile and the best we can do is protect it ... if my parents’ love was a comic book, it never saw polyvinyl, never felt a backing ... memorized, mishandled, worn thin, staples rusted. a love like that doesn’t last but it has a good ending. Ewing is also known for her visual art; the collection includes several of Ewing’s artworks, which mostly don’t seem to have reproduced well. One of the better reproductions is a shot of a teacher’s blackboard — Ewing is a critic of school closures — with a schedule of thoughts like “I’m raising the children you have forgotten” and “Just Pay Me Pay me.” Although the poems are mostly about everyday topics and events — hair, food, music — the undercurrent of surviving in a racist society is always there, whether through pride, through attitude or simply through getting by. A boy becomes a man by being stopped by the police “to ask questions he could not answer because the query beneath them was ‘why are you alive.’” The last poem, appropriately, ends with the words: I am alive I am alive I am alive. Mike Wold is a contributing writer to Real Change News, the street paper of Seattle, Washington.

And in “why you cannot touch my hair,” Ewing writes, “my hair is a technology from the future and will singe your fingertips.” But there are also poems about love and friendship. One, based on a quote from Zora Neale Hurston (“I do not weep at the world — I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife”) proclaims, when I see something dull and uneven, barnacled and ruined, I know how to get to its iridescent everything. I mean I eat them alive. The third part, “letters from the flat lands,” is about city life and growing up. The piece “montage in a car” is a biography of childhood and young adulthood, told through very brief incidents in an automobile. “On Prince” lays out what the singer can mean to a young Black woman: I loved you because I had never seen someone in a movie that looked like me before, or at least how I thought I could look if I grew up to be beautiful. Another poem in this section, “What I Talk about When I Talk about Black Jesus,” deals with the relationship between the narrator (“I don’t believe that Jesus ... was the holy son of God ... But I believe in messiahs”) and her believer grandmother 450 miles away: “Of all the hours I have spent in Shiloh Baptist ILLUSTRATION COUTESY OF JON WILLIAMS, REAL CHANGE NEWS

1 2 // S T REET SENSE ME DI A / / MAY 1 6 - 2 9 , 2 018

ART Stop beating up on yourself

Product of Progression:

‘Why can’t the homeless help themselves?’

(It's not all your fault)


BY REGINALD DENNY // Artist/Vendor

Life in the ghetto, "a slum area occupied by a minority group of people," is where many of us homeless folk were raised and reared. A lot of us who resided in these obscure and demeaning locations are convinced the cards have been stacked against us because of where and what we come from — as opposed to who we are on the inside. Many of us come from dysfunctional family situations, where alcohol, drugs and sex were misused or abused. Often, that trauma is or was a great part of how we think and behave in our daily lives. I've heard it said that “everything we need in life we learned in kindergarten.” In some facets this holds true, because a lot of stuff I was exposed to in my childhood shaped and molded me into the adult I have become. The mind is a terrible thing to waste, but some minds are a terrible waste of space. What I mean is the brain stores information we don't want

and from time-to-time it is regurgitated and processed once again into our daily lives. But this is not all your fault! A lot of things we say and do are learned behavior. Whatever keeps me in the same position, when I know it's not the right thing to do, is insanity. For some reason, these old ways keep rearing their ugly head, unwarranted. Sometimes it seems I have no control and I can't do a thing about it. This selfmutilation has, at times, gotten the best of me. But it's not all your fault. Stop beating yourself up!!! We might have to spend the rest of our lives, or the best part of our lives, unlearning old behaviors and transforming our minds into new patterns of thinking. But it can be done, and it's not all your fault. If you respect yourself, you can stop blaming yourself. To be continued.

Time to move on BY MARCUS GREEN Artist/Vendor

I feel like I'm in the fourth quarter of my life, with a minute and thirty seconds left. That's why I live to the fullest and approach every day as if it's the last. I'm working with my case managers, Ms. Turner and Ms. Colleen at Street Sense Media. They are both angels, heaven-sent into my life. Just like you, my customers. Your smiles and hugs are all love. I am also job hunting and looking forward to seeing my son and my NA family. If anybody has any suggestions related to working at dog grooming, pet care or animal shelters, please let me know. Thanks for your support and God Bless.

I am a homeless 40-year-old man who has experienced all of the injustice that many in this city speak out on. In March, I was on the radio station WPFW discussing “The People’s State of D.C.,” a rally I participated in ahead of the mayor’s State of the District Address this year. The show I was on is called “Taking Action” and is hosted by the advocacy group Empower D.C. every Tuesday. A caller asked me, “why the homeless can’t help themselves.” This statement has been on my mind since that day. I am doing what I can to show that even though I’m homeless, progress is what I and most people continue to strive for. I have been steadily working to become an asset to my community for years. I have two jobs but earn less than 30 percent of the area median income. So my housing options are limited in this market. I am in a certificate program at Workforce Development LifeLong through the University of the District of Columbia community college. I have made a complete change and commitment to become better. My past obstacles included health issues, lack of training, a criminal record, and the chaos that is being homeless. But I am doing what I can do to stay afloat. I know there are no handouts or free lunches, but my work and faith to continue to do better will assist in the reconstruction of a sturdy

foundation for my life. I can do this on my own, but the assistance programs help build my soft skills. I have been upgrading myself slowly from staying in a car, to a lowbarrier shelter, to a rapid re-housing program through Friendship Place. Since I been in this setting, I have found employment and am paying some on the rent. I have kept my grades up and am on track to achieve a certificate in Construction Craft. I am a product of what can be achieved with an honest hand-up from the right support system. I am working my hardest to keep my jobs and build a career, to hold on to something that means a lot for me to accomplish. Life is full of critics with their own interpretation of social norms. But I transform that negativity into energy to keep thriving, to build a better me and a path that others can follow. We as a whole can build toward righteousness by supporting each other to overcome the conditions that hinder our productivity and progression. This is the first installment of a column I am writing to show what opportunities exist for people experiencing homelessness and answer what questions you might have about the challenges I have faced, homeless, employed and enrolled in higher education in our nation’s capital. Open dialogue and understanding is the foundation of a healthy community. Send questions to

“Ridesharing” is caring BY PHILLIP BLACK, a.k.a. “THE CAT IN THE HAT” Artist/Vendor

Uber and Lyft have taken over city transportation. Cab drivers are complaining more and more about losing money to these two new types of transportation. In addition, these companies are causing Metro to lose riders. And it’s no surprise! I’ve tried Uber and Lyft, and let me tell you both are a whole lot better than riding Metro or taking a cab. And now, Uber Eats will pick up your food and deliver it right to your door. What a great idea! One thing is for sure — cab drivers and Metro need to step up their game. Uber and Lyft are here to stay. AMEN.

Glance Nw apeare giftts, not bits, nowght eny sad eternel writs. They were on wurldes whits.



// 13

DIY Creative and Affordable Housing BY JACQUELINE PORTEE // Artist/Vendor

The rising cost of living has affected us in many troubling ways. People are tripling their expenses in overpriced rental housing that costs anywhere from $1,500 to $3,500 per month. Multiply that $3,500 by 12 months, and that equals $42,000 annually. Alternatively, you could spend less than $10,000 purchasing a 10’ x 12’ shed with wired electricity and an added loft for a bedroom or sleeping area, which saves you $32,000 to own versus renting. Here are some great websites to start your tiny but affordable house -building or -buying process: • • • •

Detroit has been leading the way, with a pilot project not only to house homeless people in tiny homes but for the residents to rent-to-own those locations. According to a December 2017 report by the Detroit Free Press, seven such homes are already in operation on land owned by Cass Community Social Services while construction had begun on five more.

Treading the Waters PART 2


Be active this Memorial Day BY GWYNETTE SMITH Artist/Vendor


I’m not the only one thinking this way. Oakland, California, is moving 40 people into a village of “Tuff Shed”-brand structures this month to address its local homeless crisis. And earlier this year, San Jose, California, identified several locations where the government could build tiny homes for the homeless community. However, according to a February report from The Mercury News, some residents have pushed back, saying the locations are too close to schools and existing residential areas. Yes, you read that correctly: Some people think those experiencing homelessness should have separate residential areas when they are given the opportunity to make a new home for themselves.

Our veterans make our country strong. We should always respect them. They should not have to live on a small salary and food stamps. Their combat pay is not taxable. I agree with that determination. When our troops are not involved in combat, like Afghanistan, I believe they should take a part of their time in the service to work on projects in the U.S. and its territories. This Memorial Day, we should remember them. Visit loved ones’ graves if members of your family have served or visit the resting place for service members you have no other connection with, such as at Arlington Cemetery. Put a small flag on the grave or go to a parade. These acts are a way to say "thank you" and "you are not forgotten." Also, it might be possible to call a place that serves soldiers and ask whether there is anything needed, like used clothing or letters and care packages for those abroad.

When we were last with him, young Gerald’s friend Gregory had just shown him how they could steal the things their families couldn’t afford to buy them.

Jacqueline Portee works on a small, temporary cabin during the 2017-18 winter season to protect herself and secure her belongings. PHOTO BY ERIC FALQUERO

Perception or Reality:

Can we make it right? BY ROBERT WILLIAMS, USMC // Artist/Vendor

I begin this segment chillin’ inside of Starbucks near Thomas Circle to get out of the inclement weather. Excellent staff here, courteous and considerate, much unlike the staff at the location near Farragut North. They won’t ever allow you to use the restroom there. I am a Marine Corp. veteran, currently housed through Obama legislation while in office to get homeless vets off the street. I am part of an alarming number of veterans who are unemployed and in need of quality health care, including dental. Veterans have continuously attempted to convey the necessity of affordable housing, for ourselves as well as other people experiencing homelessness — seemingly to no avail. We all know it's a damn shame for a veteran to make it through a war or even assimilate back into normal life, then return home and have to live on the streets. Is homelessness a perception or a reality? You tell me. How far have we come, and how far do we need to go before we realize that something is wrong in our society? Only with the unity of purpose, the acceptance of human needs, and mutual communication can we make it right.

Gregory say, “Boy, we be getting jewelry. All kindsa shit now. Sunshades. You know? Nylon t-shirts, silk t-shirts, you know?” I’m like, “Damn, I thought y’all was paying for this stuff.” He let out a Tshhhh. “Man, you know, girls — when we go out and stuff, they think we payin’. We be hustlin’, we be stealin’.” I say, “Shit, you can put me on the crew now.” So a few months later, in the neighborhood, a lot of us guys, we hang out, we meet up. We have brass knuckles, nunchucks, stuff in our bags. One day I say to Gregory, “I know what we need to call this crew.” He say, “What?” I say, “The Rat Pack Crew.” He say, “What?! The Rat Pack? What that mean?” I say, “Yeah, man, the Rat Pack mean we hustlers, we just take anything from anybody.” We’d built a clubhouse in the woods where we met at. That's where we would talk about what we gonna do, how we gonna do, what car we gonna steal, what motorbike we gonna steal. If you come in the clubhouse, you had to have a canned good, Kool-Aid, some kinda chips, cookies or something. So we would plot out what we was gonna get to bring to the clubhouse. One day we went in the K&B — Katz and Besthoff, which was a drug store in New Orleans. I went into the store and they tell me what to get, but I was new, I wasn’t a good thief yet. I put a can of tuna in my coat pocket. My friends were in different aisles. And just then, the security guard grabbed me, stopped me. He looked at me. I looked at him. He say, “Hey, excuse me. Can you step in the back with me for a second?” I say, “Nah. What make you want to take me to the back?” He say, “I wanna see something.” “You ain't gotta come, but I prefer you to come. I just want to search you, make sure you're not taking nothing.” I was going to walk out of the store, but when I looked behind me I seen another security guard. I say to myself, “Oh shit. What the hell?” So I say to him, "No problem, I'll walk with you." When we walk in the back, he say, “Can I search you?” When he say that right there, my heart fell to my stomach. Boom. This new series chronicles Gerald Anderson’s time running the streets and going in and out of prison. It will eventually become his sophomore autobiographical book. You can purchase the first book, “Still Standing: how an ex-con found salvation in the floodwaters of Katrina,” from Gerald directly or find it on

1 4 // ST REET SEN S E ME DI A / / MAY 1 6 - 2 9 , , 2018

FUN & Answers Sudoku #1 6 3 GAMES 2 1 9

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What is ambition? 'Tis a glorious cheat. Angels of light walk not so dazzlingly the sapphire walls of heaven. -- Willis

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1. Empo wer D.C.'s radio pro gram o n WPFW (t aking 1. Empo wer D.C.'s radio pro gram o n WPFW act io n) 2. peo ple in reco very fro m substance use o r co 2. peo ple in reco very fro m substance use o r co o ccurring mental health diso rders who are certified to o ccurring mental health diso rders who are certified to pro vide suppo rt toWeingarten o thers is a college dropout and Author Gene pro vide suppo rt to o thers (pe e r co unse lo r) 3. time-limited assistance and targeted a nationallyfinancial syndicated humor columnist for The 3. time-limited financial assistance and targeted Washington Post. to Author Dan Weingarten suppo rtive services co nnect individualsis oarformer families to suppo rtive services to aco nnectcollege individuals r families to college dropout and current student omajoring ho using ho using (rapid re -ho using) Many thanks to Gene in city information 4 . U.S. pilo ting technology. a rent-to -o wn tiny ho me pro gram fo r 4 . U.S. city pilo ting a rent-to -o wn tiny me pro gram fo r Weingarten and The Postho Writers Group peo ple experiencing hoWashington melessness ho melessness (de ro it ) peo ple for experiencing allowing Street Sense to run Barney & tClyde.



SHELTER HOTLINE Línea directa de alojamiento

(202) 399-7093

YOUTH HOTLINE Línea de juventud

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE Línea directa de violencia doméstica

(202) 547-7777

Education Educación

Health Care Seguro

Clothing Ropa

Legal Assistance Assistencia Legal

Case Management Coordinación de Servicios

Food Comida

Employment Assistance Assitencia con Empleo

Transportation Transportación

Showers Duchas

All services listed are referral-free Academy of Hope Public Charter School 202-269-6623 // 2315 18th Place NE

Bread for the City 202-265-2400 (NW) // 561-8587 (SE) 1525 7th St., NW // 1640 Good Hope Rd., SE

Calvary Women’s Services // 202-678-2341 1217 Good Hope Rd., SE

Catholic Charities // 202-772-4300

Central Union Mission // 202-745-7118 65 Massachusetts Ave., NW

Charlie’s Place // 202-232-3066 1830 Connecticut Ave., NW

Christ House // 202-328-1100 1717 Columbia Rd., NW

Church of the Pilgrims // 202-387-6612 2201 P St., NW food (1-1:30 on Sundays only)

Community Family Life Services 202-347-0511 // 305 E St., NW

Community of Hope // 202-232-7356

Covenant House Washington 202-610-9600 // 2001 Mississippi Ave., SE

D.C. Coalition for the Homeless 202-347-8870 // 1234 Massachusetts Ave., NW

Father McKenna Center // 202-842-1112 19 Eye St., NW

Food and Friends // 202-269-2277 219 Riggs Rd., NE (home delivery for those suffering from HIV, cancer, etc)

Foundry Methodist Church // 202-332-4010 1500 16th St., NW ID (Friday 9am–12pm only)

Friendship Place // 202-364-1419 4713 Wisconsin Ave., NW

Georgetown Ministry Center // 202-338-8301 1041 Wisconsin Ave., NW

Jobs Have Priority // 202-544-9128 425 2nd St., NW

Loaves & Fishes // 202-232-0900 1525 Newton St., NW

Martha’s Table // 202-328-6608 2114 14th St., NW

Miriam’s Kitchen // 202-452-8926 2401 Virginia Ave., NW

BEHAVIORAL HEALTH HOTLINE Línea de salud del comportamiento

(202) 749-8000

Housing/Shelter Vivienda/alojamiento

1-888-793-4357 Laundry Lavandería

Patricia Handy Place for Women 202-733-5378 // 810 5th St., NW

Samaritan Inns // 202-667-8831 2523 14th St., NW

Samaritan Ministry 202-722-2280 // 1516 Hamilton St., NW // 202-889-7702 // 1345 U St., SE

Sasha Bruce Youthwork // 202-675-9340 741 8th St., SE

So Others Might Eat (SOME) // 202-797-8806 71 O St., NW

St. Luke’s Mission Center // 202-333-4949 3655 Calvert St., NW

Thrive DC // 202-737-9311 1525 Newton St., NW

Unity Health Care // 202-745-4300 3020 14th St., NW

Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless 1200 U St., NW // 202-328-5500

The Welcome Table // 202-347-2635 1317 G St., NW

My Sister’s Place // 202-529-5991 (24-hr hotline)

N Street Village // 202-939-2060 1333 N St., NW

New York Avenue Shelter // 202-832-2359 1355-57 New York Ave., NE

// 15

Whitman-Walker Health 1701 14th St., NW // 202-745-7000 2301 MLK Jr. Ave., SE // 202-797-3567

For further information and listings, visit our online service guide at

JOB BOARD Residential Aides - On Call Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless Darnestown, MD Full-time, Part-time The Residential Aide is responsible for direct services to residents of the Safe Haven Program, ensuring that daily scheduled activities are carried out, and assists in meeting the basic needs of the residents. Conducting daily checks of residents’ rooms and the general areas of the home for safety hazards and cleanliness, and offering encouragement, modeling, and training when needed in housekeeping skills; Supervising meal preparation of residents, offering training, modeling, and assistance when needed, while fostering the individual’s development of his or her own skills and confidence; Providing emergency intervention in response to crisis situations and following protocol to address emergencies to include contacting the Case Manager, Program Director, and/or calling 911 when applicable; Responding appropriately to resident medical emergencies and performing crisis intervention when necessary, including, but not limited to, providing emergency first aid and CPR; Monitoring and reporting to the House Manager/Case Manager noteworthy information about resident behavior or mental status; and more. REQUIRED: High school graduate or GED; Minimum one year related experience (will consider combination of qualifications equal to educational and work experience). APPLY:

Janitorial Custodian Pelenti Group // Washington, D.C. $14.20 an hour - Full-time, Part-time Looking for motivated, detail-oriented custodian to perform routine cleaning of homeless shelters, drug treatment clinics, women’s shelter, administrative buildings and grounds. High School Diploma or GED preferred. REQUIRED: At least one year of experience in institutional cleaning operations such as hotels, hospitals, schools, colleges/universities; Authorization to work in the United States. APPLY:

Hiring? Send your job postings to

The urban challenge group from Mexico explores Northwest D.C., guided by James Davis (left). PHOTO COURTESY OF JAMES DAVIS

Many people struggle to understand extreme poverty in America BY JAMES DAVIS Artist/Vendor

I recently hosted a group of graduate students from Mexico as part of an "Urban Challenge" sponsored by the National Coalition for the Homeless. These students and one lawyer hope to go back to their country to make a difference combating the drug cartels and standing for civil rights in their communities.

During the challenge, they panhandled and applied for jobs in Dupont Circle. They also spoke to people experiencing homelessness in the area. It was an eye-opening experience for them. Their take was that Americans take a lot of what we have for granted.

I am the DMV


Where I am from I am from… The DMV From Martin Luther King Jr Parades and Mumbo Sauce I am from creativity and love And cherry blossoms I am from Smithsonians and the Capitol From Chuck Brown and Langston Hughes I am from Go-Go and the Metro I am from the DMV And the D-M-V is ME! Through this partnership, Street Sense Media aims to bring you a poetic perspective of our city from the future generation being shaped by it. D.C. SCORES creates neighborhood teams for kids in need by giving them the skills and confidence to succeed on the playing field, in the classroom and in life. It accomplishes this for 2,500 kids at 59 D.C. elementary and middle schools by combining poetry and spoken word, soccer, and service-learning in an innovative after-school program. To learn more or support:

MAY 16 - 29, 2018 VOLUME 15 | ISSUE 14

The masterpiece of melody’s measure is “Middle C”


BY KEN MARTIN // Artist/Vendor

Washington’s premier music retail and learning enterprise celebrated its 16th year of service to the nation’s capital with a weekend-long “Sweet 16 Anniversary” at the end of March. Myrna Sislen, the owner, not only offers customers a wide variety of the best musical instruments, sheet music, related accessories and gifts — she really knows how to throw a party! There was food, drink and, of course, non-stop music. Staff, students and “whoever wishes to drop by and play along” performed from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day: musicians of all calibers, playing everything from alto sax to zithers! Okay, maybe no zithers, but definitely xylophones. I was fortunate to be on the scene for a live kazoo serenade, the first I’ve heard in 30 years. Every visitor was in a festive mood. I was even tempted to perform, but I stuck to letting my camera click with a jazzy rhythm. It has been my pleasure to have these wonderful folks in my life, as customers of the paper and as salespeople for my daughter’s musical needs (glad that’s over...hoo boy!). Aside from all being music masters in their own right, Matthew, Michael, Max, Amos, Dave and Jane “the” Angel are class acts as human beings! As friends, Middle C came to my rescue when I had too few easels for my photo exhibit at “Art All Night” two years ago. They even gave me my first housewarming gift for my new apartment: a gift I shall always cherish that will remain on display in my living room. Everyone that knows me knows that I love music. It was in a music store that I first met the object of my eternal affection. And it is music that you hear wherever I labor. In D.C., the melodies begin with Middle C. I’m looking forward to our future collaboration and encourage you to visit their website:


Street Sense Media 1317 G Street, NW Washington, DC 20005

My Middle C Music family.

I was really excited two years ago when I had the honor of interviewing incoming National Endowment for the Arts “Jazz Master” Gary Burton. His music has influenced me for half a century. Truly an honor. Then, this year, somehow, I surpassed it. For whatever reasons, of all the jazz musicians, DJs and advocates that could have been selected, and probably should have been, the voice of this humble, well, somewhat humble, aficionado was chosen to narrate this year’s NEA “Jazz Moments.” My voice, although anonymous, introduced the 2018 class of Jazzmasters: Todd Barkin, Joanne Brackeen, Pat Metheny and Dianne Reeves. These Jazz Moments can be heard on iTunes, PRX and at:


Nonprofit Org


US Postage Paid Washington, DC Permit #568


5.5 million Thank you for reading Street Sense! From your vendor









05 16 2018  

D.C. Council adds millions to the homeless services budget, a nonprofit prevents family homelessness regardless of D.C. residency, the new P...

05 16 2018  

D.C. Council adds millions to the homeless services budget, a nonprofit prevents family homelessness regardless of D.C. residency, the new P...