A Public Forum with Attorney General Karl Racine
DOING JUSTICE IN DC:
How Communities of Faith Can Advocate
with Marginalized Citizens
On Sunday, April 22, DC Attorney General Karl Racine spoke at FCUCC on the work of his office to protect affordable housing and how his office’s role in this urgent crisis could be strengthened.
AG Racine noted that, while our common perception is that homeless people are adults, in fact, nationwide, the average age for homeless people is just 9 years old. The Restorative Justice Program he launched in 2016 seems to address the root problems of crime and offer juvenile prosecutors an alternative to traditional prosecution.
On affordable housing, the AG has taken steps to stem the loss of public housing and ensure that rent control is implemented. In response to several suits against local slumlords who let conditions become intolerable in their properties in order to remove residents and make way for their development projects, his office secured court orders appointing receivers to manage apartment complexes in Congress Heights and Columbia Heights. Further, the AG scored a victory this year when a federal court rejected a developer’s challenge to the constitutionality of DC’s Inclusionary Zoning law.
In answer to questions regarding large city subsidies for developers and his authority to act both as counsel to the city agencies and as defender of the people’s rights, he suggested that his office be given the authority to ensure that developers deliver fully on their contract promises to the city, and that the AG have the option to represent the plaintiff in law suits against the city should it determine that this would be the public’s best interest. His additional suggestions to more rapidly tackle the lack of affordable housing in the city included doubling the amount of money in the budget for affordable housing, especially for those below 30%; rehabilitating vacant and boarded up city-owned housing; and revising the Area Median Income (AMI), a measurement that establishes eligibility for certain programs, better to reflect the income disparities within DC.
The Forum was sponsored by the Homes-for-All Task Force of First Congregational and Cleveland Park Congregational UCCs.