Prince George's for Housing Justice Coalition
Housing is a critical element of infrastructure. It is our core belief that housing is a human right.
The greatest asset in any community is its people – their health, prosperity, and quality of life are at the core of how we should measure community sustainability. Prince George’s County is not yet meeting the housing needs of all its residents, not equally, and not equitably. The short supply and few quality housing options means residents don’t have affordable options. Residents are desperate in not only preserving the County’s current housing but also in investing in new housing and services to benefit generations to come.
The Prince George’s for Housing Justice Coalition is centered on the voices of working-class and immigrant communities and others in need of equity-focused housing policy solutions. Their needs, desires, and ideas guide our development of the solutions necessary to deliver housing justice for our communities.
Ask 1: Housing Security
Rent stabilization was a tool used countywide during the pandemic to assist Prince Georgians impacted by the lack of jobs from the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2.6% increase limit on rents was passed by the County Council on June 9, 2020 and ends within 90 days after the expiration of the Governor’s State of Emergency, we believe a limit on annual rental increases should be codified as permanent law. Housing cost-burdens are most prevalent among renters, who pay 49 percent of their income on rent. (compared with 36 percent of homeowners). On the municipal level we are also going to actively pursue rent stabilization legislation to assist tenants living in municipalities achieve housing security.
Ask 2: Increase Funding
Housing Investment Trust Fund – The Housing Investment Trust Fund is the single greatest asset within Prince George’s County control to support public-private partnership housing projects that rehabilitate, create new and otherwise increase committed housing affordability options for residents. Additional appropriations, such as the proposed $82 million annually for the Housing Trust Fund by the Housing Opportunities of All Workgroup today would signal to private sector partners an immediate commitment to provide some resources, matched by their own investors and financing, to accomplish more projects that improve housing quality, accessibility, and affordability without displacement of residents.
Tenant Support Fund – To establish a pool of resources to support tenants living in substandard conditions at properties where landlords are not meeting resident needs or repairing units and common areas to habitability standards. Fund to address the problems that we are seeing at Bedford and Victoria Station. Funds could be used to address repairs, to help tenants relocate within their community to higher quality apartments, and/or to support the Right of Return for tenants after repairs are completed.
Housing services for vulnerable populations – Several resources and programs have been made available through partnership with the County Council and County Executive’s offices to help residents at risk of losing their housing. The coalition advocates for more funding to support advertising those programs in harder-to-reach communities and supporting their application process. This could include grants to nonprofits doing work in neighborhoods with at-risk Prince George’s residents, a permanent rental assistance program, and funds available to assist those in need of home adaptations for better accessibility. These strategic, public-private investments will help to inform more parts of the community about what emergency and permanent housing relief funds are available to prevent residents from losing faith in their ability to recover on their own from the current housing crisis.
Ask 3: Build Community Power
Support resident committees with compensation – Multifamily buildings that have tenants who want to build Resident Committees deserve to be compensated for their time, efforts, and input while serving on the committee.
Support community-led plans and initiatives – Elevating the voices of community members in the planning process is key to ensuring that their needs are met. Community members must be centered by the Department of Planning, the County Council, and the County Executive as we work to build safe and sustainable communities.
Community needs assessment – Understanding what our communities are missing and which services or resources are needed to uplift them is critical if we want sustainable communities.
Ask 4: Support the Unhoused Population
Transitional Housing – Unhoused people deserve a pathway to stability. Increasing the investments in transitional housing will improve the quality of life and opportunities for unhoused people. When provided temporary housing they can fold back into our communities. Transitional housing is a safety net needed for those in crisis.
Conditions of shelters – Shelters need to be physically accessible to individuals with disabilities or accommodations must be provided.
Increasing shelter capacity – Work with organizations to understand the needs of unhoused population in the county. Advocate for increased capacity and improving the conditions of shelters as well as supporting funding for transitional housing. Addressing the stigma and nimby attitudes that block support for this group.