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Washington nonprofit shows strength in empowering low-income housing residents

SDOP-sponsored organization generates interest in at-risk communities

by Rick Jones | Presbyterian News Service

(Photo via ONE DC website)

LOUISVILLE – Low-income residents and immigrant communities in the Washington, D.C., area are getting help from a local nonprofit, supported in part by the Presbyterian Committee on the Self-Development of People. ONE DC is working to improve social and economic equity by organizing, training and educating housing residents in Shaw and the District.

“We are community organizers, working with longtime low-income residents,” said Dominic Moulden, resource organizer for ONE DC. “This organization has been around in one form or another for 20 years now and we’ve been connected with SDOP the entire time.”

Moulden says the organization was built around three main goals; involving grassroots people in the decisions that affect their lives, minimizing hierarchy and professionalism in the organizations working for social change, and engaging in direct action to resolve social problems.

“We have this political education community meeting called the People’s Platform,” Moulden said. “SDOP is helping us organize the platform and bring in community organizers to lead the meetings. They’ve grown from around 20 people to more than 100 attending each month.”

ONE DC’s vision, according to Moulden, is to “maintain a safe place where diverse cultures and individual stories are held sacred.” The organization promotes social entrepreneurship and a collective use of community resources.

“People know about their housing and political rights and they know about the zoning process. Because so many attend the meetings, they help other people get involved,” Moulden said. “The People’s Platforms are monthly, but we are in the housing units every day meeting with people.”

“ONE DC embodies the energy and spirit of the types of programs that lift up equity, hope and transformation. SDOP is proud to be a partner in this endeavor,” said the Rev. Alonzo Johnson, SDOP coordinator. “We have learned much from Dominic about the importance of communal voice and community empowerment. We are proud to partner with ONE DC as they continue to educate, inspire and engage people who are impacted directly by poverty and injustice.”

“We hope that these platforms will generate more than 500 members next year looking at these issues,” Moulden said. “We are also hoping to help tenants buy at least two of their buildings so they will not be displaced.”

According to Moulden, the state of income, housing security and wellness for DC residents is bad and getting worse. ONE DC says the city has destroyed welfare and social programs, attacked workers’ rights and supported the reduction in programs for the most vulnerable.

Moulden says he’s encouraged by the progress ONE DC has made in recent years and believes that will translate into a better way of life for the residents they serve.

“We just got an award from the Washington Lawyers’ Committee, and that is inspiring,” Moulden said. “But we have to love the people. That’s what motivates me and I’ve been doing this for 31 years.”


Self-Development of People is able to transform the lives of people because of gifts to the One Great Hour of Sharing special offering.

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