Affordable housing advocates to rally outside City Hall this weekend

Organizers outside Southern Towers lead residents in a protest against CIM Group (staff photo by Vernon Miles)

A coalition of affordable housing advocacy organizations is planning to rally outside of City Hall this weekend to advocate stronger affordable housing and tenant protections.

The rally is scheduled for Market Square outside of City Hall (301 King Street) on Saturday, April 13 at 1 p.m. — while City Council is meeting inside.

The rally will be hosted by African Communities Together (ACT), an organization that’s done extensive advocacy work for residents of Southern Towers in the West End, and will include speakers from Southern Towers and advocacy group Tenants and Workers United.

“On Saturday, April 13th, African Communities Together (ACT), housing advocates, and residents of the City of Alexandria, will rally outside City Hall to call on the City of Alexandria to prioritize affordable housing and tenant protections,” ACT said in a release. “A shocking 78% of renters in Alexandria with incomes up to $75,000/yr are spending over 30% of their income on housing costs, making them housing cost-burdened.”

The rally is aimed to coincide with the city’s public budget hearing. Affordable housing advocates have been vocal throughout the budget process, along with advocates for fully funding Alexandria schools. Advocates called for the city to fully fund a pair of affordable housing developments that have been waiting in the wings for years and to expand the guaranteed income pilot.

At the same time, the city faces numerous other funding demands, from funding to Alexandria City Public Schools to long-overdue and costly infrastructure projects.

This year also marked the first time assessments for multi-family residential properties have declined — due in part to the increase in the city’s housing supply — which Director of Finance Kendal Taylor said could translate into rents decreasing, or at least stabilizing, for Alexandrians living in apartments.

The ACT release said the group will also debut a public art project from local artist and former Southern Towers resident Nana Ama Bentsi-Enchil. The artwork is called Doors of Displacement and focuses on the impacts of the housing crisis on the community through a “series of community-designed doors.”