Photo of Brook Hill

Brook Hill

  • Hosted by Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs
  • Sponsored by Crowell & Moring Foundation
  • Service location Washington, District of Columbia
  • Law school Georgetown University Law Center
  • Issue area Housing - Affordable Housing/Microfinance
  • Fellowship class year 2016
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Brooke provided representation to tenants’ associations and community based organizations working with tenants of properties timing out of subsidy in gentrifying Washignton, D.C. neighborhoods, to preserve affordability and ensure compliance with fair housing, relocation, and landlord/tenant laws.

Because Washington, D.C.’s housing market is so strong, owners of subsidized housing projects in gentrifying neighborhoods want to convert these properties to market rates making them unaffordable for existing tenants who are largely African Americans. The District of Columbia’s 2012 Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing recognized that if affordable housing is not preserved and expanded in gentrifying neighborhoods that there is a very real threat these neighborhoods will “re-segregate… as virtually all white.” This project sought to use fair housing laws to prevent the displacement of low-income tenants of color from formerly subsidized properties.

Fellowship Highlights

In the past two years, Brook has:

  • Filed two class action fair housing cases in federal court challenging redevelopment plans that threatened to displace hundreds of families.
  • Consulted with and provided brief advice / representation to tenants living in three other affordable housing properties.
  • Created deep ties between his host organization and two community based organizations who are now partners on multiple issues.
  • Testified at two hearings. One addressed proposed revisions to DC’s comprehensive [housing] plan and the other addressed issues surrounding the redevelopment of a public housing complex which is likely to displace long-term residents who live in family-size households.
  • Conducted a housing know your rights training for a group of parents at Columbia Heights Education Campus whom are involved with the Committee’s Education Project.

What’s Next

Now that the Fellowship is complete, Brook plans to:

  • Continue working with the Washington Lawyers’ Committee as Associate Counsel in the Fair Housing Project.
  • Complete of a report that looks at how gentrification fuels an affordable housing crisis, which in turn intensifies patterns of segregation making it only the newest mechanism through which housing choice is elusive for more African American households.
  • Continue building a group of tenant leaders to begin creating a citywide tenants’ union to preserve affordable housing.

Media

My Impact: A Conversation with 2016 Equal Justice Works Fellow Brook Hill

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