Who’s Who In The VAHPP
National Alliance of HUD Tenants (NAHT)
Founded in 1991, NAHT is the first national membership organization of resident groups advocating for 2.1 million lower income families in privately-owned, HUD-assisted multifamily housing. Through NAHT, tenants have proven that united action can mount an effective campaign to save people’s homes. For seven years, from 1995-2002, the National Alliance of HUD Tenants (NAHT) initiated and coordinated a successful VISTA program in HUD multi-family housing. The program placed up to 60 VISTA organizers each year in local host sites, and at the conclusion of the project, reached 32 cities in 27 states. .NAHT VISTAs helped tenants form more than 520 tenant organizations that met HUD standards, including several that achieved resident ownership of their developments. With assistance from VISTAs, these tenant associations preserved or improved more than 70,000 at-risk HUD apartments, and trained tens of thousands of tenants on their rights.
Equal Justice Works has partnered with NAHT to select organizing host sites and to provide training and support for 33 VISTA organizers placed with 20 local nonprofit tenant assistance organizations.
Corporation for National and Community Service (AmeriCorps VISTA)
VISTA was founded as Volunteers in Service to America in 1965 as a national service program designed specifically to fight poverty in America. In 1993, VISTA was incorporated into the AmeriCorps network of programs. VISTA builds capacity in nonprofit organizations and communities to help bring individuals and communities out of poverty. Since 1965, over 190,000 have served as VISTA volunteers working with local organizations to strengthen communities and help people escape poverty. Eighty percent of former VISTA members continue to volunteer in their communities after their term of service ends.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has set aside funds for a national VISTA Volunteer program in privately-owned HUD multifamily housing from Section 514 of the Multifamily Assisted Housing Reform and Affordability Act (MAHRAA). To date, HUD has advanced $2 million through an Interagency Agreement with CNCS for a two year VISTA Volunteer program. CNCS has matched these funds with its own resources for program benefits to support 45 participating VISTA Volunteers in VAHPP for two years.
About Equal Justice Works
The mission of Equal Justice Works is to create a just society by mobilizing the next generation of lawyers committed to equal justice. We provide leadership to ensure a sustainable pipeline of talented and trained lawyers are involved in public service. Equal Justice Works provides a continuum of programs that begin with incoming law school students and extend into careers in the profession. We provide the nation’s leading public interest law Fellowship program and offer more postgraduate, full-time legal positions in public service than any other organization.
Equal Justice Works has been selected by CNCS as its Intermediary organization to administer the VAHPP program. Equal Justice Works will also select legal host sites and train and support 12 VISTA attorneys placed with 10 nonprofit legal service organizations.
VISTA Affordable Housing Preservation Project (VAHPP)
This project will build the capacity of tenant associations in eligible Project Based Section 8 HUD-assisted properties to increase tenants’ knowledge of their rights, responsibilities and options for preserving and improving their homes and communities as affordable housing. The project aims to (1) increase tenant outreach and training capacity of qualified local nonprofit organizations in at least 20 cities; (2) organize or strengthen up to 120 independent tenant associations that meet HUD standards at 24 CFR Part 245 (3) help tenants save or improve at least 120 eligible Section 8 communities which house more than 18,000 families. 45 VISTA members will build the capacity of tenant organizations through outreach, education, leadership development and legal services over the next two years.
Map of the current VAHPP Community Organizers and Legal Fellows across the the USA:
Harassment is a serious problem for too many tenants. We need more protections to allow us to feel safe in our homes.
HUD’s proposed rule on harassment and liability for protected classes under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) is a strong step in the right direction. The proposed rule is thoughtful, thorough, and moving in its forthright affirmation of people’s homes as a sanctuary for privacy, personal freedom, security and safety. It clearly declares that all protected classes under the FHA should be protected from broad, inclusive definitions of harassment which may be perpetrated against people because of their membership in one or more protected class.
In particular, we applaud HUD for clarifying in the proposed rule that third party providers (such as owner and their management agents) are directly liable for failing to “take prompt action to correct and end” harassment or any other unlawful discrimination under the Fair Housing Act.
Protected classes include women, people of color, people with disabilities, national origin, and people with families. One notable exception is age, which is an unfortunate gap in the federal law and not something HUD can alter.
Overall, NAHT supports the proposed rule, and endorses the recommendations filed by the National Housing Law Project, which suggests that the rule could be strengthened by highlighting, in the Preamble, additional examples of potentially harassing, unwelcome conduct that could give rise to FHA liability.
You can read our comments here, including our suggests for strengthening the preamble.
URGENT! ACT NOW to tell Congress to pass “clean” appropriations bills and prevent a government shutdown!
Tea Party forces continue to push hard for destructive policy “riders” to ban Syrian refugees; defund Planned Parenthood and Obamacare; repeal environmental and labor protections; gut campaign finance laws and weaken financial reform.
Housing “riders” have also been proposed to repeal Fair Housing protections and to abruptly terminate Section 8 contracts in “substandard” housing–potentially throwing thousands out of their homes.
THANK YOU if you are one of the thousands who have sent YOUR message to Congress! If you have, there’s time to send another one NOW!
If you haven’t done so yet, click here http://p2a.co/naht to send an email to your Members of Congress, urging “clean” appropriations bills. Then forward your message to your Facebook page and friends.
ACT NOW to tell Congress to pass “clean” appropriations bills and prevent a government shutdown!
The NAHT Board will be meeting on Friday, October 2, 2015 with senior HUD officials including Milan Ozdinec, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Housing and Voucher Programs. Ozdinec is the point person at HUD for the Museum Square crisis.
During the meeting, NAHT will push for the the recognition of enhanced vouchers, the Right to Organize and the Right to Remain.
Washington, DC’s Channel 9 report on the Museum Square Rally. Click the link below.
WAMU, the local NPR affiliate in Washington, DC, has put together a helpful “Explainer” that outlines the history and issues surrounding the ongoing battle over Museum Square. The online article can be found at:
Washington Post coverage of yesterday’s Museum Square rally organized by NAHT, CAPACD, APALA and other partners. NAHT’s Board joined the rally and march in support of the Museum Square Tenants Organization, a NAHT member.
Pictured in the photo are tenant leader Jenny Tang and her daughter Jasmine, age 9. Click the link below to read the story.
NAHT’s Rachel Johnson appeared on the Kojo Nnamdi Show on Tuesday, September 29, 2015 with Museum Square tenant Jenny Tang and organizer Sam Jewler. The audio of the program is now available. Click the link below to listen.
Right now 300 families are fighting to save their homes in DC Chinatown,
and their project-based Section 8 contract is expiring on September 30.
Please take a few minutes to do 2 actions in solidarity with the tenants:
1) Click HERE to send a fax to the landlord Bush Companies this week demanding that they:
- Extend the Section 8 contract,
- Respect the rights of tenants to organize, and
- Offer a fair price to tenants to buy the building as required by DC law.
2) Click HERE to send emails to the DC Council & Mayor requesting that they:
- Pass a permanent amendment to the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act to require a fair price offer based on current value for tenants to buy their buildings, and
- Commit to submit a Statement of Interest to buy Museum Square through the District Opportunity to Purchase Act for permanent preservation.
If you are in the DC area on September 30th, please join us at the tenants’ rally in front of Museum Square (401 K St NW) on September 30 at 4:30pm with a march through the neighborhood until 6:30pm.
If you are an organization that would like to sign-on to a community letter to DC government in support of the tenants, please sign-on HERE.
NAHT Call to Action to Save Museum Square!
Please sign and circulate the on-line petition to help 300 families at Museum Square in DC’s Chinatown save their homes!
Tenants at this year’s NAHT conference organized a support rally with the tenants of Museum Square, which is located in the heart of DC’s Chinatown. Museum Square is 301 units and it represents 50% of the remaining Chinese population and it’s one of the last affordable housing complexes in the area.
Please circulate the on-line petition today, and forward to other groups and networks! Click here for sample Facebook and Twitter postings and a sample email blast to send to your lists!