Today, more than 11 million families spend over half of their incomes on rent, and for the poor, it can be as much as 80 percent. That means millions of Americans face the threat of eviction, or they live in substandard housing because it’s all they can afford. NPR’s Pam Fessler has been spending time at the rent court in Washington, D.C., where the struggle between low-income renters and landlords over affordable housing often comes to a head.
In some places, it’s called rent court or housing court. Others, eviction court. In Washington, D.C., it’s known as the Landlord and Tenant Branch. This is where landlords in the city sue tenants, usually because they failed to pay the rent.
Each weekday morning, dozens of people can be seen filing into the three-story courthouse where their cases will be heard. And maybe their fates decided. Everyone passes through a metal detector. Women with small children. Elderly tenants with walkers and canes. Several of those who gather in the hallway wear work uniforms. They’re nurse’s aides, security guards, grocery store clerks.
The tenants are among the city’s poorest residents. And while this city’s population is less than half African-American, according to U.S. census data from 2014, almost every single tenant here — day after day after day — is black. The white people are usually attorneys.
In the wood-paneled courtroom the loud wooden pews squeak loudly during roll call of the day’s cases, which can run into the hundreds. This court had 32,000 cases last year alone. In an effort to help lighten the caseload, the judges encourage tenants and landlords to try to work out a settlement before they’re called into the courtroom. And many of them do, often with the help of a court-appointed mediator.
‘Could Be’ Homeless
“My name is Lisa Brown. I live in Southeast Washington, D.C., in Atlantic Terrace. I’m currently $6,000 plus in arrears, of back owed rent.”
Outside the court, Brown says she calls herself the new face of the “could be” homeless. She has just signed a deal with her landlord. If she doesn’t come up with the money she owes in a couple of weeks, the landlord can evict her from the apartment she shares with her three children and a grandchild. Brown works at a hotel, but she says it isn’t enough.
via Welcome To Rent Court, Where Tenants Can Face A Tenuous Fate : NPR
So here’s a list of topics that we’re talking about on these pages:
Affordable Housing, Employment, Food Stamps SNAP, Food, Food Deserts, Work, Jobs, Manufacturing Moved Offshore, Poverty, Welfare, Income Inequality, Occupy Homeless, Gnat, AtomGnat, Gnat-one-ette, Facebook, Twitter, Activist, Religion, Mental and Physical Health, Education, Writer, Artist, Community…
Do You Have a Story to tell?? We want to publish that on this website and our Facebook page! Come on, don’t be shy! And if you are, we’ll happily help you with a alias so that your identity can be kept private.
this is a test to figure out the placement of tags and wtf categories are…
Shared from http://www.Facebook.com/OccupyHomeless page:
Hello New friends and those that have been here all along.. we don’t know what caused this page to suddenly take off, but we are grateful and humbled to see these page likes flow in at the rate of about 100 per seven day period. 1,071 today! Wow!
We try to interact and comment as best we can, and we really do hope that each of us can become better friends and associates. That happens when we attempt to get to know one another and that happens by sharing about yourselves as we try to share who we are with you – yes You.
So, if you have a question, please ask.. if you have a suggestion or a need, state it and we’ll see if we can collectively make that happen.
Of course this page is going to be talking about some really hard topics, last winter, we mourned as a friend from the streets, froze to death. 😥 At the same time, we try to stay hopeful and happy, not always easy, but it does happen when we all try to remember that someone near by needs to be cheered up or on! (btw, i depend greatly on my cheerleaders, i hope that you know who you are and that i’m so very grateful)
If you want to write an article for us, please do. In our “Our Stories…” photo album, you can see some examples of things that we enjoy creating with others that walk or have walked the path that we are still walking.. the intent there is to show those that have not walked in our shoes, what it’s really like and who we really are.
As of now, this one little ‘gnat’ has gained a total of 5 in my tiny swarm, we all know that 1 or 3 little gnats is no problem and easily ignored… maybe if we reach a bigger amount of swarming gnats, we’ll get noticed?
~ gnat (atomgnat), with, Gnat-one-ette, ArtsyGnat, PhotoGnat and DocGnat – yes, that’s a for real doctor, although never homeless and seldom seen on this page 😉