Category Archives: Advocacy Days

Fair Lending Legislation: Serving the Underserved

In many of the District’s newly developing or distressed areas, large financial institutions are scarce – frankly they’re just not there. In distressed areas of the city there is a limited amount of basic banking amenities, but in their places are a slew of check cashing store fronts and payday loan servicers. Historically, the District has faced a disparity between banking services and its underserved communities. Data collected from the 2011 Home Mortgage Disclosure Act shows that 56% of the District’s households are African American, but all the large financial institutions together have made loans to a total of 18.5 % of their African American Borrowers. In the District, low-and moderate-income (LMI) households accounted for 40.9% of the city’s households, but lenders made only 22.9% of their loans to LMI borrowers. There is a negative trend here. According to the Community Development Act of 2000, District chartered financial institutions have an obligation to meet the credit needs of all of the Districts communities. This issue is much larger than the District of Columbia. Nationally there are some 40 million unbanked individuals, while another 100 million individuals are classified as underserved. To no surprise, this data disproportionately represents minorities, women, youth and poor individuals.

Banking origins are rooted in community development. They were instituted to put a community’s deposits and investments back to work for the community by lending to individuals to buy cars, homes, put children through college, and even start businesses. Allowing banks to neglect this obligation would be contrary to the fundamental nature of their existence. Although financial literacy is a major component in the grand scheme of financial wellness, making these institutions accessible and available is one of the first steps. If large financial institutions cannot manage to provide basic banking access to all of the Districts residents, it is only fair they be deemed ineligible to hold city funds. Introduced by Councilmember Jack Evans, the Community Development Amendment Act of 2013 looks to remind financial institutions of their primary obligation.

Part 1: A Summit to Ignite the City

At part one of Councilmember Anita Bonds’ Community Action Summit, the focus was on Housing and Jobs in Wards 1,5,7,and 8. Although this Summit focused on Housing and Jobs, it represented so much more – a commitment to help underserved communities in the District by bringing together residents, community leaders, experts and government officials. Held in the community room of the Department of Employment Services on Minnesota Avenue NE, panel discussions and work groups were the tools used to 1) Inform people about current resources and 2) discuss challenges and what other tools need to be developed.

Connie Spinner, Executive Director and Head of School for the Community College Preparatory Academy gave a presentation on her organization, which is the first adult charter school founded East of the River. CC Prep focuses on getting adults ready to be successful in post-secondary education and advanced certificate training. There is also a major push to help these students become lifelong learners. In her presentation outline, Spinner states “As most of you probably already know that the strongest indicator of the educational success for a four year old-is the educational level of that child’s mother.” This is why programs such as CC Prep are so important, that not only contribute to current community development, but for generations to come.

Housing, the other focus of the summit, focused on the Continuum of Housing. Presenters like Bob Pohlman of CNHED and Darrin Davis of Anacostia River Realty spoke on the need to continue the preservation of affordable housing, the production of more affordable housing, and the need for financial literacy in these wards. Homeownership being one of the main vehicles for wealth generation, they spoke on the importance of financially educating individuals and preparing them for homeownership. A specific focus was on launching the East of the River Homeownership Campaign, helping residents in Wards 7 and 8 become successful homeowners in their communities before prices become too great.

Fall 2013: Join our Housing Advocacy Team!

The Housing Advocacy Team core recently met for a retreat, in order to refocus on our mission, “… to join with others to create a constituency of concerned neighbors and friends who will act as a powerful voice to influence public policy and resource allocation for affordable housing and asset building in the District, with a particular focus on affordable homeownership.”

During the retreat, it was evident each member of the core team is committed to affordable housing advocacy. Their tenacity for advocacy comes from experience across the Continuum of Housing. As a team, strength comes from diversity and unity emerges around the mission. Here’s what the Manna Housing Advocacy Team will be doing this fall 2013 season:

1.) Meeting every second Monday of the month at Manna, Inc.: 6:30 p.m. @ 828 Evarts St. NE Washington, DC 20012

*Dinner & childcare is provided for all attendees

*RSVP’s should be sent to

*To get on our mailing list please e-mail

2.) Participating in the DC council public hearings and giving testimony on the following housing issues:

*Testifying on Inclusionary Zoning regulations on ownership units in the District

*Gathering signatures and support for making it possible for current residents who live in Wards 7 & 8 purchase homes over the next 1-2 years as a part of Manna’s East of the River Homeownership Campaign

*Support Affordable Dwelling Unit condo owners who purchased their units with HPAP funds to ensure they have flexibility to sell or rent their units if needed

*Join with the Housing for All campaign and CNHED’s efforts to work on any housing justice issues which arise across the housing continuum

Working and advocating for homeownership is essential for low-to-moderate income buyers in DC. Homeownership allows for people to build equity, invest in their neighborhood and gives them a tool to fight against generational poverty. Urban Turf recently reported $47,640 is needed to rent a single-bedroom apartment in DC. Meanwhile, residents can own their own home for much less than they can rent. As costs continue to increase, Manna’s housing advocacy team is focused on working with CNHED to ensure home ownership remains a possibility.

Some upcoming policy propositions take away low-to-moderate income person’s ability to purchase a home by increasing down payment requirements to 10%. This increase would deny credit worthy families from purchasing their own home. The Center for Responsible Lending wrote, “Mandated down payment levels would harm lower-wealth households, including a disproportionate number of African-American and Latino households…. With households of color accounting for an estimated 70% of household growth through 2023, down payment mandates could exclude a large portion of the market from accessing affordable mortgages”. (See article below to read more).

In order for the Housing Advocacy Team to continue to fight for home ownership and other affordable housing justice issues in DC, we need to grow our numbers! The only thing missing from the team’s most recent retreat was you! Please plan to join us for one of our monthly meetings or contact us for more information at

Click the blue link below to read more of the article referenced above: 2013 Big Lie Debunking CRL-Down-Payment-Mandates-Would-Harm-the-Economy-Credit-Worthy-Families-August-13-2013

East of the River: Have You Ever?

Manna continues to be invested in seeking affordable housing justice and econoimc opportunity for the community of people who currently live in Wards 7 & 8-commonly referred to as “East of the River”. After 150 people showed up for the East of the River Homeownership Fair hosted by Manna this spring, it was clear homeownership is priority.  Manna has wondered what our readers know about the rich history of Wards 7 & 8 and the strengths of a community so often highlighted only when negative things happen. So please take a minute, grab a coffee or a cool glass of water, and consider the following questions: “Have you ever…..”

 ….heard about the rich history of the Deanwood community in Ward 7?

…known Barry Farms was the first place in DC that African American families could own homes?

…taken a look at the Anacostia River Realty webpage, educating yourself about what homes are for sale in Wards 7 & 8?

…attended LUMEN8 Anacostia featuring the growing art scene and new Art Center?

or do you know why LUMEN8 was started?

…read Nikki Peale’s blog entitled “Congress Heights on the Rise”?

Congress Heights on the Rise blogger Nikki Peele’s message from bclemons on Vimeo.

DC Tenants-You Rock!

All Souls Unitarian Church hosted the 6th Annual Tenant Townhall on Saturday, May 18th. Over 250 tenant advocates showed strength in number by gathering to make their voices heard expressing housing concerns to local government officials. Latin Economic Development Corporation (LEDC) intentionally planned this event with the support of the Coalition of Nonprofit Housing and Economic Development (CNHED).

Main concerns verbalized by DC tenants were the following:

  • ensuring CNHED budget asks were met in the upcoming budget vote
  • addressing mold issues within different buildings
  • supporting dollars for tenants to become homeowners
  • spreading the word about the Tenant’s Right to Purchase (TOPA) program.

Marilyn Philips, currently a tenant in Ward 8, was asked to speak in support of the Housing Purchase Assistance Program (HPAP) and about her journey towards homeownership.

Following her speech, the group heard affirmation for tenant concerns from Councilmember Jim Graham, Director Michael Kelly (DHCD) and Director Adrianne Todman (DCHA).

Throughout the entire event, the predominate theme was “DC Tenants, You Rock!” Tenants were truly celebrated for their accomplishments, rights and diversity. Interpretation was provided in Spanish, Amharic and Mandarin. This was a powerful demonstration of the tenants’ power, persistance, and collective voice across the Continuum of Housing!