D.C. faith leaders prepare to confront developers

December 7, 2011

Rev. Joseph Daniels, one of the organizing pastors of WIN. (Hamil Harris/THE WASHINGTON POST)

Faith leaders plan to visit specific job sites highlighting how city subsidized projects are making money but not hiring District residents as required under their contracts.

The tour follows the largest rally WIN has held in more than a decade Monday night when more than 2,000 people packed the Metropolitan African Methodist Church where several speakers rallied groups of people attending the event from dozens of houses of worship, mosque, synagogues and organizations.

 “We wanted our people there because we are really concerned with how the city will be shaped over the next ten years,” said WIN Co-Chair, Rev. Jeff Krehbiel, who is also pastor of the Church of the Pilgrims Presbyterian Church in Dupont Circle. “With the downtown in the economy there is a real since of urgency.”

WIN had been the impetus behind the The Neighborhood Investment Fund was set up in 2004 after community groups, in particular the Washington Interfaith Network,raised an outcry about neighborhoods that sorely needed improvements. Up to $10 million annually from personal property taxes goes into the fund.

Since then, the group has urged city leaders to retain the funding level and gather community input for how to spend that money, even in lean financial times.

During the recent rally, the Rev. Joseph Daniels, pastor of the Emory United Methodist Church in Northeast, said progress has been made since the group was founded 15 years ago. But all is not well.

WIN is calling on city officials to use $45 million from the city surplus to employ 40,000 residents and find 10,000 affordable housing units over the next four years. Corporate america also plays a role, he said.

“The real issues are the corporations and developers who are holding back jobs but are getting rich off Wall Street,” he said.

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Hamil Harris is currently a multi-platform reporter on the Local Desk of The Washington Post.
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