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News ::
DC: Olive Branch house being evicted!
07 Aug 2002
The Olive Branch House, which has served the hungry, poor and homeless for over two decades, is being evicted this morning, on personal orders of the Mayor. Mayor Williams has been hurt politically by the homeless campaign waged for the past year by Olive Branch activists and many others.
I just got a call from Bork who says that the U.S. marshalls and the police showed up to evict the Olive Branch House. They have started removing stuff from the building and won't let residents into the house if they don't
have ID.

There are several ways you can help. If you are an independnet journalist, please go down to their house and
cover this story. The Olive Branch is located in the 1000 block of M St. NW.

The residents also need help with transportation, so if you can help them drive stuff elsewhere with your car,
truck or van, please do so.

It's also important that the D.C. activist community show some solidarity for the Olive Branch, which is being attacked by the mayor for being a center of activist activity.

More updates later...


Mayday DC (ex-Olive Branch) Demands:

Poverty and gentrification is overwhelming the residents of Washington DC.

Over the past 10 years the number of children living in poverty in the district has increased 29%. Hundreds of families in Colombia Heights alone have been forced from their homes by housing inspectors for living in overcrowded substandard housing. Meanwhile the city has done nothing to create and preserve affordable housing as thousands of units are lost to gentrifiers: developers of luxury buildings. The city is cutting back human services like hospitals and shelters, for instance by closing La Casa – the only bilingual shelter with drug treatment on-site.

And now, the mayor is creating backlash against activist groups that have been working to fight poverty and oppression for years. August 12th is the scheduled date for the eviction of the Olive Branch Community from its longtime home on M St. NW. Mayor Williams targeted the activist and service community for eviction in retaliation for its protests against the mayor’s unjust homeless policies this winter.

In response to this attack on civil liberties by Anthony Williams, several former residents of the Olive Branch, TRIBE, and The Homeless Association National Connection have formed Mayday DC. Mayday DC intends to focus on the horrific levels of homelessness and gentrification within the city. Join us on August 9th at City Hall ,9 am, as we oppose the eviction, rally,and march with the following demands:

1) Housing is a human right.

The city must shelter, and ultimately house, every one of its residents. Until then, we demand that the city commit to a program of at least one for one replacement of affordable housing lost to developers. The past decade has seen thousands of units of affordable housing lost to gentrification. We call on our elected officials to take unused city properties like this site and to create housing for homeless individuals and families, and to provide facilities for community services.

2) Community Land Trust and Restoration of Homesteading.

We demand that the city immediately place all vacant unused city property into a land trust to protect it from predatory developers, real estate speculators and parasitic community development corporations [CDC’s]. The land and buildings owned by the city belong to the people of this community. We should be allowed to develop homes for ourselves, to create community gardens and recreation centers. Instead, our officials now warehouse the buildings and land until they are given away to the rich and well connected.

3) A right to shelter.

No human being should sleep in the street. Yet today 267 families are on the waiting list for shelter while sites like this one remain vacant for decades, heated and renovated. In the capitol of our nation over 10,000 people sleep under bridges and in parks. It is not enough to build human warehouses and forget about the problem. Our public officials must commit to a full range of services including supportive housing for the disabled and treatment on demand for those with drug and alcohol problems as well as assistance in locating and securing both housing and
employment. We demand an immediate commitment to right to shelter be reflected in the 2002 Reform Act for Homeless Services.

4) A living wage.

We demand that the city pass a living wage law guaranteeing working people a wage that allows them to support themselves and their children. One in 5 DC residents lives in poverty. Many pay 75% or more of their income in rent.

5) Equal access to services

Over 43,000 Latinos live in ward 1 alone. Many are exploited at low wage jobs with no benefits. Hundreds of Latino families have been forced to live in overcrowded and substandard housing. Now gentrification in Columbia Heights is forcing Latinos living in poverty out altogether. In the face of the housing crisis in Columbia Heights Mayor Williams wants to close La Casa the only bilingual shelter and drug rehab in Ward 1.

It is racist to deny services to a whole community to benefit the rich. We demand La Casa remain open and be given a permanent site that will allow it to expand its services to Latina women and families.

The capital of the world’s richest nation CAN, SHOULD and MUST shelter and house ALL of it’s residents!
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