Asking questions of developers and making sure their real estate projects include deeply affordable housing is something Elissa and I have in common. In fact, it’s how we met!
Let me introduce myself: I’m Franselene Clarke. I’m a U.S. Navy veteran, a registered nurse, a super-proud Ward 8 homeowner, a wife, a mom, and the former Vice Chair of the D.C. Housing Authority Board of Commissioners. And I’m serving as chairwoman of Elissa’s 2022 re-election campaign.
I’ve seen enough over the years not to be surprised that some developers are lining up their financial power against Elissa. That’s why we need your vote and your financial support!
Let me explain: The reason that I am no longer on the Housing Authority Board is that I asked tough questions and pressed for accountability on real estate deals with the city. In 2020, then-Board Chairman Neil Albert was pushing hard to close a real estate deal involving the Housing Authority’s headquarters, which sits on very valuable property just blocks from the U.S. Capitol. I just knew something wasn’t right, so I called an emergency Board meeting. The numbers showed that the deal wasn’t helping those who needed public housing the most. Soon after the meeting, I received a call that my Board term had expired and I wouldn’t be reappointed (a move that was later covered in the Washington Post). Elissa, who had expressed similar concerns about the deal to the Board, asked why I had been so quickly dismissed. She has yet to get an answer.
That experience didn’t discourage me though! I know how important it is for the Housing Authority to provide affordable and dignified homes for our working families. Our commissioners and elected representatives need to fight for all of us — not just for developers! After serving in Afghanistan as a combat corpsman in the Navy, I returned to D.C. and faced a lot of challenges. I needed help, and I found it in D.C. Housing Authority-funded transitional housing for veterans. Having a safe, secure and affordable home made all the difference.
I enrolled in college to become a nurse. I bought my home through the Housing Authority’s homeownership program. I founded and chaired the Board’s first Housing Choice Voucher Program committee that focused on helping public housing families become first-time homeowners like myself. Ultimately, I gained self-sufficiency despite all odds against me.
That’s why I am so passionate about making sure the Housing Authority and our city spend our precious resources making sure Black families like mine can continue to afford to live here and purchase a home here. It’s also why I said yes when Elissa asked me to chair her campaign.
There’s a lot at stake in public real estate deals, which represent our taxes and resources at work. D.C.’s elected officials need to make sure those deals serve the interests of D.C. residents, not developers! I’ve seen Elissa in action, listening to and elevating voices like mine, asking tough questions of agency heads, and keeping her focus on truly making this a city for all. That’s why I believe in her and support her re-election as an at-large member of the D.C. Council.
I look forward to meeting many of you over these next few months! And today I ask that if you haven’t given to our campaign, please consider a $5 or $25 contribution. Our campaign is running on small donations and has qualified for public financing. If you are a D.C. resident, your contribution is matched 5-to-1. So $25 turns into $150!