Jan 22, 2019
A conversation with Daniel del Pielago, Organizing Director at Empower DC, is a good reminder that public policy change cannot be made or sustained without an organized community. And when the community seeking change is public housing residents, the barriers to becoming organized are considerable and the stakes are extremely high. In this episode of Power Station, Daniel relates how Empower DC builds power, through tenant organizing and community engagement, in Washington DC's lowest income neighborhoods. He tells the ongoing story of Berry Farms, a public housing complex, beset by deteriorating conditions and a lack of public investment. It is now the focus of a Mayoral initiative. Berry Farms is slated to be demolished and to be replaced by mixed-use housing, featuring market rate apartments and town homes. Many residents have been dispersed throughout the City with promises to be returned. Others are left in place with an uncertain future. But they are organizing and making their voices heard in City Council hearings. And their organizing is paying off. The DC Court of Appeals recently vacated approval of the development plan, finding that resident needs are not adequately represented. And there's more to Empower DC's work. Executive Director Parisa Norouzi will join a future episode of Power Station to tell the story of DC's Ivy City, whose fortunes are changing, with uneven results. Grassroots organizing takes the long view. Empower DC is clearly in the fight for the long haul.