Fifty tenants from Boston to New York to Oklahoma to Seattle picketed at the doorstep of the Volunteers of America headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia on Tuesday, June 17th, demanding that the VOA withdraw from its purchase and sale agreement and work with tenants to keep the Theodora affordable.
It was sweltering outside – over 90 degrees, plus that DC humidity – but that didn’t stop tenants from standing up for what is right. Tenants picketed along the sidewalk and driveway to the Volunteer of America’s parking lot. Tenants chanted “Hey hey VOA, how many lies did you tell today” and “We’re the Theodora Rescue Committee, You can’t Take our Right to the City” and sang popular songs with lyrics more fitting to describe what the VOA has done at the Theodora.
The VOA’s headquarters is located in a campus with many other corporations, and staff from across the campus were buzzing about what the VOA did. Midway through the protest, the VOA’s executive Vice President and general counsel, David T. Bowman, came downstairs, and spoke with a representative from the Theodora Rescue Committee. Mr. Bowman was surprised that tenants from across the country came to their headquarters to make a point. Though the VOA has refused to meet with the Theodora Rescue Committee since their organizing began, within hours of of the demonstration Mr. Bowman has contacted us to coordinate a meeting. We hope the VOA is serious about meeting with the tenants, but if they are not, we will be taking further action.
Special thank you to the National Alliance of HUD Tenants for sponsoring this action. Click here for pictures from the action.
Meanwhile, in just one week nearly 500 people have signed a petition demanding a public hearing on the Theodora!
We only needed fifty signatures, but we got more. Thank you to everyone who has signed and who continues to. We are making it increasingly difficult for the city to endorse the VOA’s actions.
What Can You Do to Help?
We have one month to show the City that we, the public, do not endorse a conversion that will cause irreparable damage to the Ravenna neighborhood and the larger community. If more than fifty people write to the city requesting a public hearing about the Theodora, the city will be compelled to grant one. Please take a few minutes to send a personalized comment letter into the Department of Planning and Development and demand our city pay close attention when our affordable housing is at stake.
Below, we have included some some points you may want to include in your letter as well as a sample letter for you to submit to the city. The more personal, the better. If you have any questions please contact Eliana at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 206-722-6848 extension 114. Please visit www.savethetheodora.wordpress.com for more information on the tenants’ struggle.
Talking points and a sample email are included at this link.
With your help, destroying affordable housing won’t come easy.