Iyon Johnson, Fort View Resident and Polly Donaldson, THC Executive Director

Washington DC Residents, housing advocates, and developers alike gathered at the Wilson building last Friday, May 1st, for a hearing about the 2015 budget for the DC Department of Housing and Community Development. This event was hosted by Muriel Bowser, the chair of the Economic Development Committee to hear the perspective of community members affected by the programs of this department. Three representatives from THC testified; Polly Donaldson (THC’s Executive Director), Iyon Johnson and Carlita Walker (both residents of Fort View Apartments).

Polly Donaldson was the first to testify. She explained THC’s perspective, stressing that, “We are at a critical point in our city’s history, as our population continues to grow, and we need to assure that there is sufficient safe and secure affordable housing being developed.”

After Polly laid a strong foundation of budgetary needs, two residents from THC’s Fort View Affordable Housing expressed their belief in this critical housing budget increase.

Iyon Johnson has been a participant in THC’s programs since 2008. She will also be the recipient of THC’s Client Achievement Award at Living in the City. Iyon spoke about her experience with THC:

“I juggled all the struggles of overcoming homelessness and motherhood while earning my Master’s degree, sometimes spending hours in THC’s computer lab to get schoolwork completed. We have earned the roof over our heads and the stability we feel, yet even still, we could not live in an affordable house with THC and the Local Rent Supplement Program. If I had to pay the market rent for housing, I would live in constant fear of being homeless again.”

Carlita Walker was the last to speak, sharing her path to affordable housing:

“My children recently began their own rhythm and were making it in the world. I was happy and settled about this. Then in 2007, after 18 years, my husband passed away. He was my rock and the breadwinner for our household. I had nowhere to turn. My children were thefor me emotionally, but I could not expect them to help me financially, when they were just starting out. Not wanting to be a burden and with no place to stay, I entered into the homeless system.”

The speakers from THC all made clear the incredible challenge of finding affordable housing and the impact this struggle has had on their families. To read their full testimony, see here: Polly Donaldson, Iyon Johnson and Carlita Walker. To hear more of Iyon’s story and celebrate her success, join us at THC’s Living in the City event on May 15th at the new NPR Headquarters at 6:30pm.

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