Vernell Robinson is a public housing resident in Far Rockaway, Queens. Vernell survived Superstorm Sandy and has lived with undrinkable water and mold in her apartment. The storm worsened already deplorable conditions in the city’s crumbling public housing, and she knew that something had to be done. Vernelly began organizing with other NYCHA residents to demand reinvestment and call for more accountability in NYCHA management.
Kimberly Campos-Lucas is an in-home caretaker for her mother, age 82, who lives in a senior building in Chicago. Kimberly and her mother have been trapped in out-of-code elevators several times. Although the Chicago Housing Authority has been aware of these problems for over a year, the building continues to regularly have one working elevator for the over 400 residents. This leaves residents waiting hours to get down or upstairs.
NEW YORK CITY, NY
Rose Fernandez is a public housing resident in New York City’s El Barrio/Spanish Harlem. She’s lived in public housing for over 50 years, and has seen it change for the worse. Rose is chronically ill, and her illness has been exacerbated by mold and dust in her home. The conditions have caused Rose to struggle with depression. Rose knows that what we need is a Homes Guarantee that prioritizes reinvesting in public and social housing across the country.
Section 8 / Privatization
Debra Miller is a senior housing resident in Chicago. Debra is living with a disability, was homeless for 19 months while she waited to get housing assistance after facing an eviction after she was unable to pay her rent. But even when she and her husband got a voucher, she was denied by many private landlords who wouldn’t take Section 8.
Ade Adewole lived with her son in Venice, CA for many years on a Section 8 voucher. Her landlord harassed her, wouldn’t make repairs, and even trespassed in her home without permission or notice. She couldn’t leave because she couldn’t find a landlord who would take her voucher. She finally moved into Marina del Rey after spending years on a waiting list. She thinks it isn’t fair that single mothers have to choose between constant harassment and homelessness.
Kendra Moore was born and raised in Venice, CA. She lives in a project-based Section 8 building. Since HUD sold the building to a private investor, she has been working with the Holiday Venice Tenant Association to buy the buildings back. The owner has offered to sell the buildings twice, and both times HUD blocked the deal. She wants HUD to work for tenants, not investor landlords, and wants stronger programs to return affordable housing to community control.
Bruce Kijewski has lived at The Ellison, the largest rent-stabilized property in Venice, CA for over 30 years. The building’s owner, Lance Robbins, has been bullying and bribing tenants to move out, and slowly turning the building into an unpermitted hotel. Bruce thinks HUD needs to be more proactive in defending tenants against predatory investors who displace tenants to maximize profits.
Joyce Bell was raised in Chicago and has always struggled to have clean, green, safe, affordable housing. She has experienced homelessness, and when not homeless, rented from slumlords. A landlord broke into her home and turned off her electrical services. She’s lived in buildings that were foreclosed then taken over by banks, and in homes with dangerous conditions. She has been on the waiting list for Chicago Housing Authority public housing for over 5 years. She was purged off the waitlist between 1980 and 1990, and she had to re-apply to get a spot in 2015.
NEW YORK CITY, NY
After Jermain Abdullah got out of prison, he lived in a homeless shelter in New York City for three years and a month. The shelter was filthy, the roof leaked, roaches crawled on the sink and toilet seats. To Jermain, the shelter just felt like prison all over again. Jermain knows that the answer to homelessness is not more shelters or more vouchers. It’s a homes guarantee, transformative ownership models like Community Land Trusts, and a commitment to ending homelessness.
KANSAS CITY, MO
Tiana Caldwell is a tenant in Kansas City, Missouri. She is the descendant of slaves, the granddaughter and daughter of US Military veterans who did not benefit from the G.I. Bill. Tiana grew up in poverty, and her family had virtually no wealth. She and her husband were caught in a mortgage scam, have been racially profiled by many landlords, and have struggled to find housing with an eviction on their record. Homeless after their last eviction, Tiana and Derrick paid upwards of $300-500 a week to live in a hotel for six months while Tiana was undergoing cancer treatments.
David Zoltan lost a leg after an injury on the job and discovered that less than 1% of all apartments in Chicago, where David lives, are both accessible and affordable. He finally found an accessible place to live, but it costs him $1050/month, and his disability check is only $950/mo. David is leading the statewide fight for rent control in Illinois and is committed to a national tenant bill of rights to protect tenants like him for exploitation.
LOS ANGELES, CA
Daisy Vega is a public housing resident from the westside of Los Angeles. Formerly undocumented herself, Daisy now fears for her family and friends who live in mixed-status families in public housing. She calls for a rejection of Trump’s recent plan to evict immigrant families, and for a Homes Guarantee for all, regardless of immigration status.
KANSAS CITY, MO
Brandy Granados rented a property in Kansas City, Missouri with her 7-year-old son Jude. In the winter, Brandy’s heater exploded and her house filled with smoke and the smell of gas. They ran outside in the middle of the night and called the landlord. He responded that he was out of town and couldn’t do anything. Brandy called the codes department on her landlord, and the next month he decided not to renew her lease and evicted her in an act of retaliation. Now Brandy and Jude are homeless, living in Independence, MO, more than 90 minutes away from her graveyard shift job.
Some names changed to protect the individuals involved.
Selena is 11 years old. She lives with her two brothers and her mother in public housing in Pacoima, CA. She is thriving at school and volunteers locally to support affordable housing and reduce homelessness. Her mother, who is ineligible for HUD subsidies because of her immigration status, is the only adult who can serve as head of household. If HUD’s proposed rule goes into effect, Selena and her whole family will be evicted from public housing, and they won’t be able to afford staying in Pacoima. She is afraid for her mother and family, and doesn’t want to leave her teachers and friends at her school.
Luis is a sanitation worker in Pacoima, CA, who lives in public housing community he grew up in. He is staying at home to save money to buy a house, and because if he moves out his parents—who are ineligible for HUD subsidies because of their immigration status—would lose their apartment. If HUD’s rule goes into effect, his family will be kicked out of public housing, and he will have to use his savings to pay rent he can’t afford on his salary. Without his support, his elderly parents would become homeless.