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Marsha Cole

The People’s Housing Platform Moves Us Towards Housing Justice

I’ve been to Washington, D.C. three times in my life. The first was in 1963, as a young girl, to hear Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speak at the March on Washington. The second was in 2009, for Barack Obama’s first inaugural speech. And the third is today, when I speak on Capitol Hill, with the Jane Addams Senior Caucus and People’s Action, for housing justice. Progressive lawmakers asked grassroots leaders like me to join them to create and introduce the People’s Housing Platform, an unprecedented package of bills to address our housing crisis. These include a demand for 12 million new units of social housing, a $200 billion community control fund, new tenant protections and a Green New Deal for public housing. We’re glad Members of Congress have stepped up to address this crisis –  but I want to tell you why I’m here.I was born and raised in Chicago. As a licensed contractor, I’ve built houses, and ran successful businesses. But when I returned to Chicago after more than two decades, I almost became homeless. That’s because Chicago has become unaffordable to someone like me – a senior on a fixed income. Chicago has been transformed by developers’ greed. It’s almost unrecognizable. That’s why I’m in Washington, and on Capitol Hill, today. Because the People’s Housing Platform is a step in the right direction. The door to housing justice for seniors, and for Black and brown people, needs to really be open. Not halfway open, but all the way open – so we can get in, and stay in. We have a plan. So it’s time for the big boys to give us a seat at the table.

Marsha Cole speaks at 1:30 p.m. on Capitol Hill for the Jane Addams Senior Caucus and People's Action to introduce the People's Housing Platform. Click here to watch the livestream.

HUD Seeks To Roll Back Fair Housing Protections

Rolling back fair housing protections will not ease America's housing crisis. The Hill: "More than a decade after the 2008 financial crisis, American communities from coast to coast are still struggling under the weight of a persistent housing crisis. That crisis, which is driven in large part by a disconnect between supply and demand that is exacerbated by NIMBYism and restrictive zoning, is nowhere near over. But a recently proposed rule from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that would roll back critical fair housing enforcement – ostensibly to ease the burdens causing the crisis – misses the mark. Some supporters of the new HUD proposal fundamentally misunderstand fair housing enforcement as a barrier to the widespread housing production that Americans deserve. In other words, it is possible to achieve two laudable goals at the same time: We can advance smart housing policies consistent with the reality on the ground while simultaneously preserving the federal government’s authority to enforce policies aimed at desegregating American communities."

How Housing Is Shaping 2020 Elections

How a re-energized housing movement will shape the 2020 election. Curbed: "Access to affordable housing is a rallying cry for Democrats who hope the 2020 election will usher in new policy at the federal level. The U.S. Conference of Mayors has made expanding housing opportunities and ending homelessness a key part of its 2020 policy vision. Candidates for federal and local office have embraced the Homes Guarantee pledge, a policy vision put forward by People’s Action, a national network of progressive activists. Last October in Durham, North Carolina, the group Local Progress convened a housing summit with local elected officials from around the country. Numerous states have embraced or have legislators promoting upzoning proposals, including Oregon, Virginia, Nebraska, and Maryland. California is debating numerous policy solutions, including transit-oriented zoning, renter protection, and expanding the approval and production of accessory dwelling units. And there’s been growing grassroots action as well, such as the recent protest by Moms 4 Housing, a group of homeless mothers who squatted in a corporate-owned single-family rental, leading to its purchase last week by a community land trust."

White House Undermines ACA With Block Grants

Trump administration to offer states Medicaid block grant option. WaPo: "Top Trump administration health officials are inviting states to convert part of Medicaid into a block grant — a longtime conservative goal Congress rejected more than two years ago. A letter to every state Medicaid director, to be dispatched Thursday, will offer the possibility of trading away an entitlement program that expands and contracts depending on how many poor people need the government health coverage. In exchange, for able-bodied adults in the program, states could apply to receive a fixed federal payment and freedom from many of the program’s rules, according to several individuals familiar with the plans. The offer represents the second — and boldest — step the Trump administration has taken to redefine the nation’s largest public insurance program, a cornerstone of the social safety net created as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society of the mid-1960s. It follows a guidance letter that Seema Verma, administrator of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, issued in January 2018, allowing states for the first time to compel poor Americans to work or prepare for jobs to qualify for Medicaid."

Senator Press Questions At Impeachment Trial

12 questions to expect at Trump’s impeachment trial. Politico: "After a week-long stretch of opening presentations in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, all 100 senators will have a chance to pose their most pressing questions starting on Wednesday. The process is straightforward yet important. Here’s how it will work: Any senator can write their questions on a piece of paper and specify who the question is for — someone on Trump’s defense team or one of the House impeachment managers. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer will then serve as a clearinghouse, bundling together similar asks from their party rank-and-file. From there, Chief Justice John Roberts will read the questions aloud. Only one side will get to answer each question. And it’s all expected to last up to 16 hours. If Republicans stick together and block any witnesses, the session could be one of the last chances — besides closing arguments — for senators to hear from each side’s lawyers before beginning deliberations."

McConnell Can't Block Impeachment Witnesses

McConnell concedes he lacks votes to block witnesses at impeachment trial. AP: "Republicans lack the votes to block witnesses at President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell conceded late Tuesday, a potentially major hurdle for Trump’s hopes to end the trial with a quick acquittal. Earlier, Trump’s lawyers concluded his defense with a plea to move on. Even after sitting through days and late nights of argument, several Republicans apparently are ready to join Democrats in considering in-person testimony from former National Security Adviser John Bolton and perhaps others. Trump’s lawyers made their closing case for a speedy acquittal Tuesday, but to no avail. McConnell told colleagues in a private meeting that he did not yet have the votes to block Democrats from summoning witnesses. That outcome would prolong an election-year trial that Trump and his legal team had hoped was on track, as one lawyer said, to 'end now, as soon as possible.' McConnnell’s statement, in a closed-door meeting of senators, was an acknowledgment of the extent to which revelations from Bolton have scrambled the trial’s schedule and the desire for testimony. Bolton writes in a forthcoming book that Trump told him he wanted to withhold military aid from Ukraine until it helped with investigations into Democratic rival Joe Biden. That assertion, if true, would undercut a key defense argument and go to the heart of one major article of impeachment against the president."

MD Cop Charged With Murder For Shooting Unarmed, Handcuffed Man

An Officer Who Shot A Handcuffed Man Inside A Cop Car Was Charged With Second-Degree Murder And Manslaughter. BuzzFeed: "A Maryland police officer was arrested and charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter after he fatally shot a man whose arms were handcuffed behind his back inside a squad car on Monday night, authorities said. Prince George's County Police Chief Henry Stawinski announced the charges against Cpl. Michael Owen Tuesday evening, saying that after reviewing the facts of the case the chief was unable to provide a 'reasonable explanation' for the events that led to the deadly shooting of William Green. 'I have concluded that what happened last night is a crime,' Stawinski said during a press conference. Officers responded to the scene in Temple Hills, south of Washington, DC, Monday night over reports that a driver had hit several vehicles, police spokesperson Christina Cotterman told reporters. Upon identifying the driver, police said the man appeared to be under the influence of an unknown substance and requested a drug recognition expert to assist them. The driver was then cuffed with his hands behind his back and placed in the front passenger seat of the police car, which Cotterman said is standard arrest protocol. Then, the officer got into the driver's seat. At some point while waiting for the expert, the shooting occurred, police said. Stawinski said police believe seven shots were fired, adding that was part of the reason why police filed charges against the officer. In addition to second-degree murder and manslaughter, Owen, a 10-year veteran of the department, is facing associated weapons charges in connection with the Green's death."

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