"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the eruption of outrage over systemic racism and police brutality have brought America to an unprecedented crossroads. The killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and too many others have ignited our collective rage against the brutality and callousness of the men and women who swore to serve and protect. At the same time, the harsh racial disparity in death and case numbers from the coronavirus exposes the pain and injustice of a deepening inequality in America that leaders at the highest levels have failed to address or even acknowledge. We stand with those who are suffering from the threat and consequences of racial violence, economic despair, disease, and death.
Video and social media have revealed a tragic spate of police brutality. We share the anger, frustration and pain and we support the call for action and justice. But our country’s ugly history of racial violence and economic oppression is long. Men and women who are running while black, driving while black, sleeping while black, and bird watching while black are attacked with seeming impunity. In addition, a disproportionately high number of “essential” low-wage workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis are black and brown people who put their health and safety at greater risk—and lose their lives in greater numbers.
Systemic racism in housing has been another key driver in the inequality that permeates the U.S. today. In the D.C. region, rising rents and the displacement of black and brown people is the latest symptom of this inequality. Zip codes continue to define educational outcomes, healthcare accessibility, and quality housing, and therefore the likelihood of economic success. And at a time of devastating job loss and strain on government resources, the historical inequities that forced countless residents to live in crowded housing and in neighborhoods lacking in grocery stores, health care, and other vital services and amenities have left them even more vulnerable to the pandemic.
The Washington Housing Conservancy was established in late 2018 to preserve affordable housing, prevent displacement, and promote economic mobility, especially for low- and moderate-income African Americans and other people of color. We are committed to creating thriving inclusive mixed income communities throughout the DC region. Our operating principles are the following:
- Advance Racial Equity, Sense of Belonging and Inclusion
- Innovate, Improve and Be Agile
- Maximize Resident Choice, Voice and Success
- Promote Trust and Respect
- Aim for Universal Quality
In this watershed moment for America, we must learn from our painful history and current inequities and move with a collective sense of urgency on corrective actions.We must give more unheard people a voice and protect more black and brown people from shameful and corrosive discrimination. The Washington Housing Conservancy will work with our tenants, partners and community to find solutions and engender change.
Kimberly C. Driggins
Founding Executive Director