City Desk

Chatter: Collective Bargaining

solecollectiveWhat you said about what we said last week

For nearly 40 years, the Lamont Street Collective has been a home for activism, art salons, vegetarian meals, and radical politics, a legacy that may end if the current inhabitants of the “intentional” group house lose their legal struggle to stay put, as Siddhartha Mahanta wrote in last week’s cover stor. If the collective shutters, there will still be other homes for activists in D.C.—but to some readers, the woes of the Lamont Street Collective align with the closing of an era of cheap, communal living in Mount Pleasant. “Man, I remember a time when every house party in Mt. Plez had the most expensive recycled paper towels and the cheapest everything else, fun music, folks without deodorant, and gray water toilets,” wrote reader s. “Those days couldn’t last in D.C. forever.”

Still, some readers wondered why the collective can’t just decamp for a more affordable neighborhood. “Can’t they move to a more affordable crunchy lefty enclave like Takoma Park?” asked commenter monkeyrotica. Or could the house tap its network of activists to raise money in order to buy the house? Mahajohn wondered “why it is that the collective doesn’t focus on a well-publicized fundraising effort to generate a downpayment on the house, along with public assistance, rather than hope for a single and unlikely ‘angel investor.’ Given the neighborhood’s home values, I can foresee the need for a down payment of at least $120,000.”

Inn and Out

In last week’s Housing Complex column, Aaron Wiener looked at the challenges facing D.C.’s rapid rehousing program for homeless families, which subsidizes rents for a short period of time, hoping to quickly incentivize self-sufficiency in its participants. The problem: D.C. can’t find enough affordable apartments for homeless families who qualify for the program, and in the meantime, it’s spending millions putting some of them up in hotels. On Twitter, @nancyprager had a straightforward solution: “@mayorvincegray says dc has a billion $ surplus. Let’s use some for housing. Done.”

In a blog post responding to Wiener’s article, the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless argued that the problem isn’t so much a fault of D.C.’s expensive rental market as much as it a flaw in the rapid rehousing program itself. “The central problem is that D.C. has designed a program broadly targeted to homeless families, and then based it on the presumed availability of units that will be affordable to these families without a subsidy,” the post went, suggesting that D.C. make the rapid rehousing program more like other successful housing initiatives that help participants who find affordable rentals reassure landlords by guaranteeing the government portion of the rent for longer.

Department of Corrections

Due to a reporting error, an item on pop-up events incorrectly indicated that a Vin de Chez event will take place on Oct. 30, when in fact it is set for Oct. 20.

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