The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Washington, D.C.:
Homeless Again

Dec 11, 2023

Several months after a fire in a three-story apartment building in Washington, D.C.’s mostly working class and black Anacostia neighborhood displaced 18 residents, the city is still putting up a number of families in a hotel.

Eleven families in the burned-out building were in D.C.’s Rapid Re-Housing Stabilization program, which subsidizes rent for around a year for families who were homeless. As with many housing subsidy programs, the household pays around a third of their income toward the rent, and the city pays the landlord the difference.

Investigations after the fire exposed the shockingly bad conditions in this building. There were 59 housing violations such as holes in the walls and mold in bathrooms. The washing machines were broken. Electrical outlets were broken. Air conditioning and ovens didn’t work.

But D.C. has been paying around $1,500 per month per family to the politically connected landlord to basically warehouse these women and children in this run-down, infested ruin.

The D.C. government feels it has to do something to address homelessness. But at the same time, as a government under capitalism, it is duty-bound to not interfere with the housing market—meaning, landlords’ rights as property owners to raise rents horrifyingly high, and to maintain their investments as poorly as they please, so long as the rent money keeps coming.

This kind of outrageous situation will happen again and again, until the working class builds a better system.