Basilica Campaign Overview

The Basilica buildings organizing campaign was initiated by residents of 636 Girard St. NE, in collaboration with Justice First and LinkUp, and involved the tenants exercising their rights under the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act ("TOPA"). Justice First and LinkUp connected the tenants to local housing resources, including organizing, technical and legal support, and also provided strategic and tactical support for a public organizing campaign, including communications, media, public actions and rallies.


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When we organize, we can win! Thank you for your support and solidarity!

The support of the following individuals and groups were critical to the overall success of this campaign, which has resulted in agreements that protect D.C. residents in three buildings from displacement, including at 636 Girard St. NE, 1265 Raum St. N.E, and 1364 Bryant St. N.E.

Basilica Tenants
Heather Benno, lead tenant organizer and Vice President of 636 Girard St. NE Tenants Association
Jeanne Mansell, President of the 1364 Bryant St. NE Tenants Association Karen Young, 636 Girard St. NE Tenants Association
Jackie McClain, 636 Girard St. NE Tenants Association
Joy Hakuza, 636 Girard St. NE Tenants Association
Julius Tumushabe, 636 Girard St. NE Tenants Association
Juan Ferrufino, 636 Girard St. NE Tenants Association
Residents of 1364 Bryant St. NE
Residents of 1265 Raum St. NE

Justice First & LinkUp
Yasmina Mrabet, housing organizer & strategy lead
Morgan Artiyukhina, writer
Sunil Freeman, phonebanking lead
Leta Harrison, videography
Cale Holmes, video support
Katy Lang, phonebanking support
Kei Pritzker, video support
Julia Rapp, research & mobilization
Morgan Richmeier, graphic design
Nicole Roussell, outreach, events & actions
Ajoke Williams, actions planning, research

Community and Clergy Support
Kathy Boylan, Dorothy Day Catholic Worker, organizing, press & advocacy
Bob Cooke, Catholic community organizing, press & advocacy
Fr. Jacek Orzechowski, Parish Community Organizing and Advocacy, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington
Rev. Pat Mahoney, advocacy
John Ducey, Holy Redeemer Parish Bishop
Thomas Gumbleton, Retired Auxiliary Bishop of Detroit
Petition signatories: https://www.justicefirst.org/basilica_campaign

Technical Assistance & Legal Support
Shani Shih, Housing Counseling Services, legal and organizing support
Beth Harrison, Attorney - Legal Aid Society
Molly Catchen, Attorney - Legal Aid Society L. Terrance Frierson, Attorney - Of Counsel, Eisen and Rome, PC Chris Otten, activist & organizer, technical assistance
Union Market Neighbors, community loan
John Settles - Developer (raised funds, worked with tenants on technical strategy, and an agreement that prevented displacement)


Campaign / media timeline

8/28/2018 -D.C. Tenants Face Displacement as Catholic Church Puts Rent Control Buildings Up for Sale (Justice First)

8/28/2018 - D.C. Tenants Face Displacement from Catholic Church-Owned Buildings (LinkUp)

8/28/2018 - SIGN ON: SOLIDARITY WITH D.C. TENANTS FACING DISPLACEMENT BY CATHOLIC CHURCH! (Justice First)

9/6/2018 - Catholic Church to Tenants At Risk: "We Are Unable to Provide Any Assistance" (Justice First)

9/12/2018 - Take Action! Say NO to Catholic Church Displacing D.C. Tenants! (Justice First)

9/12/2018 - Brookland Manor/Brentwood Village Residents Association: Solidarity Letter to D.C. Tenants Fighting Displacement by Catholic Church (LinkUp)

9/12/2018 - (VIDEO) D.C. Tenants Call for Action as they Face Displacement by Catholic Church (LinkUp)

9/15/2018 - (VIDEO) Interview with Joy Hazuka, tenant at 636 Girard St. NE Washington, D.C. (LinkUp)

9/15/2018 - (VIDEO) Interview with Karen Young, tenant at 636 Girard St. NE Washington, D.C. (LinkUp)

9/16/2018 - Tenants protest Basilica for selling apartment complex (WUSA9)

9/19/2018 - (VIDEO) Interview with Heather Benno, tenant at 636 Girard St. NE Washington, D.C. (LinkUp)

9/19/2018 - Take Action: Contact Catholic Church Leaders in Solidarity with D.C. Tenants Facing Displacement (LinkUp)

9/19/2018 - Protesters Gather Outside National Shrine, TOPA Clock Ticks (Justice First)

9/19/2018 - Edgewood Tenants Brace for Eviction as the Catholic Church Sells Their Building (Washington City Paper)

9/21/2018 - Rally stands up to Catholic Church’s attempt to gentrify Brookland corridor (Liberation News)

9/21/2018 - (VIDEO) Human Right to Housing w/ Yasmina Mrabet (Redacted Tonight with Lee Camp, RT)

9/28/2018 - Catholic Church Knowingly Plans Displacement at 636 Girard St. NE, Suffering Continues for Residents at Montana Terrace (Justice First)

10/9/2018 - TOPA doesn’t always work for small buildings, a housing fight with the National Shrine shows

10/11/2018 - Tenants and Their Catholic Neighbors Fight for Affordable Housing (Washington City Paper)

11/6/2018 - Tenants fear rent increases as DC basilica plans to sell apartments (National Catholic Reporter)

11/17/2018 - (VIDEO) Talk by Heather Benno at DC Meeting of Popular Movements, Catholic University (Father Jacek, Facebook)

December 2018-July 2018 (NEGOTIATIONS PERIOD)

7/25/2019 - After 18 Months Of Uncertainty, Tenants In Basilica-Owned Buildings Will Avoid Eviction (DCist)

7/31/2019 - Tenants nearly lost rent-controlled apartments owned by a Catholic church. A developer found a solution. (Washington Post)

8/9/2018 - D.C. tenants defeat Catholic Church in fightback against gentrification (Liberation News)