The Spark

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

Washington, D.C.:
Public Housing Goes Private

Mar 5, 2012

Many hundreds of people recently waited hours on a cold morning in Washington, D.C. to apply for 160 apartments with subsidized rent. This past November people waited overnight in the rain in a three-block line for 100 apartments.

The city’s public housing waiting list is more than 36,000 families – around 14,000 of them homeless. Some have been on the list for 10 or 15 years.

It’s no mystery why so many people need affordable housing. Developers got rid of a third of the low-rent housing from 2000 to 2007 to make way for more expensive units. Rent for two-bedroom apartments in D.C. skyrocketed to an average of more than $1,400.

In addition, the city closed a third of its public housing units since 2000. Just as elsewhere in the country, local government has been replacing publicly owned housing complexes with voucher programs like Section 8. In that program people pay 30% of their income to a private landlord, and the government pays the rest of their outrageously high rent directly to the landlord.

Landlords and developers profit, but working people are left out in the cold!