On May 20, Sojourners housing ministry and the neighborhood organization we helped to establish three years ago, the Southern Columbia Heights Tenants Union, participated with the New Jersey-based National Tenants Union in "National Tenant Day" here in Washington, D.C. The highlight of the day was the presentation of a large eviction notice to our nation's number-one recipient of public housing: Ronald Reagan.
We posted the eviction notice in front of the White House to announce that we, the American public, as the landlords of Reagan's public housing unit, were serving him with a "just cause" notice to quit and vacate the premises. Reagan has allowed the nation's housing stock to deteriorate and ignored the national housing crisis, activities that American tenants have determined to be criminal, and therefore grounds for eviction from a public unit.
All across the country, low- and moderate-income tenants from California to New York and Texas to Michigan used the month of May to mobilize their communities around local tenant issues and draw attention to the nationwide housing crisis. The National Tenants Union (NTU) pulled together the month's events with a press conference in Washington, D.C, introducing a resolution proclaiming the third Friday in May every year as National Tenant Day. The group was successful in meeting with representatives of the Congressional Black Caucus, and in securing Congressman Parren Mitchell of Maryland to sponsor the National Tenant Day resolution.
The Southern Columbia Heights Tenants Union (SCHTU) hosted NTU while it was in town, as well as organized local efforts aimed at drawing public attention to the housing problems the poor face in our neighborhood of Southern Columbia Heights. Disinvestment and displacement continue to be the major problems here, as many buildings deteriorate to the point of being uninhabitable.