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Nadine P. Winter, member of District’s first elected council, dies at 87

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Nadine P. Winter, an urban-housing activist who won a seat on the first elected D.C. Council after the District was given home rule in the 1970s, died Aug. 26 at her home in Southwest Washington. She was 87.

She had pneumonia, said her son Reginald Winter Jr.

Mrs. Winter was elected in 1974 to represent Ward 6, a diverse but largely poor area stretching from Capitol Hill to Anacostia, and held the seat for 16 years.

Mrs. Winter came to the council keenly aware of the housing problems that plagued the ward and the city.

She had been the director of the Hospitality House, one of the first shelters to house entire families, and led the screening group for an urban homesteading program in the 1970s.

That plan provided for the sale of vacant government-owned properties, at prices as low as $1, to people who agreed to fix them up and stay for at least five years.

“We believe all these people are the struggling poor,” Mrs. Winter told The Washington Post in 1974. “We’re not really giving away houses, we’re stabilizing neighborhoods.”

On the council, Mrs. Winter chaired the housing and urban development committee. She supported rent control, although she called it a “stop-gap measure for housing in the city,” and pressed for greater regulation of the abandoned buildings that she said attracted drug use and crime.

Mrs. Winters also chaired the Committee on Public Works. In the 1980s, she sponsored a law instituting a recycling system for paper and glass.

Mrs. Winter beat several tough reelection challenges. She ultimately lost the seat to Harold Brazil, a former utility company lobbyist, who beat her in an upset in the 1990 Democratic primary.

After that election, Mrs. Winter created a stir by leasing a District-owned building for five years at the price of $1 a year.

She had used the building for constituent services and hoped to continue using it for a scholarship foundation she had created. She said that she had used the building even before her election but ultimately moved out after tussling with Brazil. Brazil said he wanted the building for his own use and maintained that it went with the office.

In 1979, the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics reprimanded her after finding that she had used her council office and city-purchased supplies to carry out her reelection campaign. Mrs. Winter said she was “incensed” by the accusation and denied the charges.

Nadine Kinnion Poole was born March 3, 1924, in New Bern, N.C. She was one of five children, the daughter of a brick mason and the dietician at the local high school.

Mrs. Winter graduated from Brooklyn College and came to Washington in the late 1940s to work on housing issues, her son said. She earned a master’s degree in urban studies from Federal City College.

Her husband, Reginald C. Winter Sr., died in 1973. Their son Alan Winter died in 1994.

Besides her other son, Reginald, of Washington, survivors include two grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.

Former D.C. mayor Marion Barry was another original member of the council. In an interview Monday, he recalled that after his election to the council, he decided to “integrate” his wardrobe, which often included dashikis. Mrs. Winter bought him a suit, he said.

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