As a 14-year-old in El Salvador during its brutal civil war, José Wilfredo Flores faced a choice: Join the guerrillas or join the army.

“The guerrillas would come to our house,” says Flores. “We had to hide. You couldn’t say no because then they would think you were on the army’s side and shoot you. A few hours later, the army guys would come and say, ‘We want food. We want to take you.’ If you said no, they’d think you were with the guerrillas.”

In 1984, Flores’s mother made her own painful choice. She paid $1,400 to a smuggler, or coyote, to help guide her son to Washington, D.C., where his uncle and his 18-year-old brother lived.

To read the full article referencing LEDC’s work with immigrants who want to start small businesses, click here.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE             
June 22, 2012                 

Contact: Ash Kosiewicz, Communications and Advocacy Director
Farah Fosse, Affordable Housing Preservation Program Director
(202) 425-1303; (202) 590-4369
akosiewicz@ledcmetro.org ; ffosse@ledcmetro.org

WHAT: 5th Annual Citywide Tenant Town Hall
WHERE: National City Christian Church, 5 Thomas Circle NW
WHEN: Saturday, June 23rd, 2012; 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM
WHO (confirmed): Ward 1 Councilmember  Jim Graham; Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh; Ward 4 Councilmember Muriel Bowser; At-Large Councilmember Vincent Orange; Renters from across the city (250 attendees expected); Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs Director Nicholas Majett; DC Housing Authority Director Adrianne Todman; DC Housing Finance Agency Director Harry Sewell; Department of Housing and Community Development Deputy Director Jessica Franklin; Office of the Tenant Advocate Director Johanna Shreve; Office on Latino Affairs Director Roxana Olivas; Office on African Affairs Director Ngozi Nmezi; Office on Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs; AARP Legal Counsel for the Elderly; CARECEN; Mi Casa; Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center; ONE DC; Legal Aid DC; Bread for the City; CNHED Housing for All Campaign; Empower DC; Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless; We Are Family; Many Languages, One Voice; Ethiopian Community Center; Latino Economic Development Center.

WASHINGTON – In the wake of successful efforts to restore $18 million to the Housing Production Trust Fund in the FY13 budget and the release of new data showing a dramatic loss of low-cost rental units since 2000, the Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC) is organizing the 5th Annual Tenant Town Hall with more than 250 renters and community-based organizations from across the city.

Having identified affordable housing as the #1 issue of concern at DC Mayor Vincent Gray’s One City Summit in February, residents will follow-up with Council members and directors of DC housing agencies by presenting their housing priorities and solutions on a range of critical issues. These include the pressing need to help more tenants buy their apartment buildings using the District’s Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) and public funds from the Trust Fund to prevent their displacement from communities undergoing significant revitalization.

“DC residents have been very clear – affordable housing is their #1 issue,” said Farah Fosse, director of LEDC’s Affordable Housing Preservation Program. “Renters across the city are organized and ready for the Gray Administration and Council members to stop the dramatic loss of affordable housing by making funding for key programs a continuing priority.”
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Today’s blog is the second in a series of stories previewing this Saturday’s 5th Annual Citywide Tenant Town Hall. The town hall will be held from 1-4 pm at the National City Christian Church, 5 Thomas Circle NW.

DC resident Sharon Lewis can see the writing on her apartment walls, and she doesn’t like it one bit.

One year ago, she and her neighbors received letters stating that their building – less than one block away from the Georgia/Petworth metro station in Ward 4 – had been put up for sale. Sharon, who retired from her job at the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2009, has called the building home for 35 years.

Although she admits the building could use some improvements – new windows, better security, and more appliances – the building’s location and reasonable rents are two reasons why she has enjoyed living in Petworth.

“We were all in a panic,” she recalls. “We had no info – we had no idea what to do.”
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More than 100 representatives from the private, public, and nonprofit sectors came together Tuesday morning for LEDC’s First Banking on Change Breakfast at the Pavilion Room at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center.

The event, which broadly explored how to increase the participation of low-to moderate-income communities in the financial services industry, featured a keynote speech from Stuart Ishimaru, the new Director of the Office of Minority and Women Inclusion at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Ishimaru, known for his decades of work in the civil rights arena, challenged members of the traditional banking sector to see their nonprofit partners as allies in helping to diversify access to critical financial products that help families prosper.

“You’re not doing this alone,” Ishimaru said. “There are plenty of civil society groups like LEDC that can serve as a bridge to understand what the language and cultural needs [are of low- to moderate-income communities.]”
(more…)

Today’s blog is the first in a series of stories previewing this Saturday’s 5th Annual Citywide Tenant Town Hall. The town hall will be held from 1-4 pm at the National City Christian Church, 5 Thomas Circle NW.

“Nobody should live in the terrible conditions we were living in,” says DC resident Randy Green. “And if you’re living in such conditions, you should do something about it.”

Randy’s appeal – shared just before a step-by-step explanation of how renters in the District of Columbia can fix housing code violations in their apartment buildings – is one message within a series of short, playful and informative “Tenant Rights 101” videos set for screening at the 5th Annual Citywide Tenant Town Hall.

Created through collaboration between LEDC and local community-based filmmakers, the bilingual videos aim to educate renters in the District about their legal rights as tenants through the personal experiences of four DC residents who worked with their neighbors to fight for decent, affordable housing in the up-and-coming neighborhood of Logan Circle.
(more…)

In today’s edition of the Washington Hispanic, reporter Carolina Landsberger profiles the personal history of LEDC Executive Director Manny Hidalgo.

To read the full profile in Spanish, click here.

To learn more about Manny’s work since arriving at LEDC, watch this video by the Meyer Foundation.

MEDIA ADVISORY            
June 20, 2012                  

Contact: Ash Kosiewicz, Communications and Advocacy Director
Farah Fosse, Affordable Housing Preservation Director
(202) 425-1303; (202) 590-4369
akosiewicz@ledcmetro.org; ffosse@ledcmetro.org

250 renters expected to follow-up with Council members, housing directors on #1 issue from Mayor’s One City Summit and present solutions to keep the District affordable amid trends showing dramatic loss of low-cost rental units in previous decade

WHAT: 5th Annual Citywide Tenant Town Hall
WHERE: National City Christian Church, 5 Thomas Circle NW
WHEN: Saturday, June 23rd, 2012; 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM
WHO (confirmed): Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham; Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh; Ward 4 Councilmember Muriel Bowser; At-Large Councilmember Vincent Orange; Renters from across the city (250 attendees expected); Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs Director Nicholas Majett; DC Housing Authority Director Adrianne Todman; DC Housing Finance Agency Director Harry Sewell; Office on Latino Affairs Director Roxana Olivas; Office of the Tenant Advocate Director Johanna Shreve; Department of Housing and Community Development staff; Office on African Affairs; Office on Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs; AARP Legal Counsel for the Elderly; CARECEN; Mi Casa; Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center; ONE DC; Legal Aid DC; Bread for the City; CNHED Housing for All Campaign; Empower DC; Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless; We Are Family; Many Languages, One Voice; Ethiopian Community Center; LEDC. ***Invitations to all councilmembers***

WASHINGTON – In the wake of successful efforts to restore $18 million to the Housing Production Trust Fund in the FY13 budget and the release of new data showing the number of low-cost rental units in the city has fallen by half since 2000, the Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC) is organizing the 5th Annual Tenant Town Hall with renters and community-based organizations from across the city. Residents will present their housing priorities and solutions, including the pressing need to help more renters buy their apartment buildings to prevent their displacement from communities undergoing significant revitalization. Tenants will also champion language access rights for immigrants and their role in the preservation of decent, affordable housing; continued improvements to the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs’ (DCRA) proactive housing code inspections program; and the creation of a new policy to ensure that publicly subsidized apartment buildings slated for foreclosure do not lose their subsidy. The event will also feature the screening of four short bilingual films on tenant rights. In its 5th year, the Tenant Town Hall has served as a dynamic forum through which tenants have secured major victories for DC renters, including the right to sue landlords in court for refusing to fix housing code violations and the creation of the proactive inspections program. The town hall takes place just four months after DC residents identified the lack of affordable housing as the #1 issue facing the District at Mayor Vincent Gray’s One City Summit.

#####

Working families deserve to live in affordable homes and own successful small businesses, but too many are unable to turn these dreams into a reality. The Latino Economic Development Center equips Latinos and other DC-area residents with the skills and financial tools to buy and stay in their homes, take control of the decisions affecting their apartment buildings, and start or expand small businesses. Learn more at http://www.ledcmetro.org.

For many DC renters and small business owners, many have been working up to and preparing for today’s big day at the Wilson building.

At 2 pm, members of the DC community will testify at the FY13 budget oversight hearing for the DC Department of Housing and Community Development as well as rally with the Coalition for Nonprofit Housing and Economic Development (CNHED) for Housing for All outside the Wilson building at 6 pm. More than 40 residents and community advocates have signed up to testify and call for restoration of funding to key programs, including the Housing Production Trust Fund, the Small Business Technical Assistance Program, and the Home Purchase Assistance Program (HPAP).

2012 started out strong as the grassroots tenant movement began priming itself for the 2013 budget season. In January, LEDC teamed up with CNHED for a five-week training course with community residents to improve their advocacy skills.  The training included topics such as Advocacy Basics, Creating and Giving Testimony, Relationship Building and Utilizing the Media.  More than 25 tenant leaders participated in the training to strengthen their involvement and impact during the hearing process.
(more…)

Alejandro Carrasco is approaching 25 years as host of “Calentando la Manana,” the Spanish-language morning news and talk radio show he broadcasts each weekday to thousands of area listeners.

He explained the popularity of his show and Spanish-language radio in general as a cultural circumstance.

“There’s the joke about grandpa going [to] the U.S., trying to fit his old radio in his luggage. The grandson sees it, says ‘What are you doing? They have smaller radios.’ The grandpa says, ‘Well, this one speaks Spanish,’” Carrasco said. “We come from an audio culture. There is a radio culture we bring with us and people just remain loyal to it.”

To read the full article that talks about LEDC’s radio show program “Consejos Financieros” on Radio America, click here.

Last night, members of the Coalition for the Fair Redevelopment of Wheaton, of which LEDC is a member, met with community groups and citizens of Wheaton to share our collective feedback to the latest draft Council Staff Plan for the Wheaton redevelopment project.

Since March 12th, the Wheaton community has scrambled to respond to significant proposed changes to the project. The Coalition has participated in two meetings of concerned community groups and citizens, and while there is still much work to be done, the experience has galvanized community members to work together to make sure that Montgomery County public officials and elected representatives understand and are responsive to the feedback of the Wheaton community.

The updated draft Council staff plan, which has the support of Councilmember Nancy Navarro, recommends the appropriation of $58 million in public taxpayer money to support construction on Parking Lot 13 and feasibility studies on the Bus Bays platform redevelopment. Click below the Coalition’s response to this plan.
(more…)

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